As you may have already discovered, participating in a quality volunteer abroad project is not cheap. But don’t let financial barriers keep you from participating in such a meaningful activity!
Paying for a trip can be overwhelming at times; trip costs, insurance, airfare, and other unexpected fees might make you lose interest. However; there many options out there to help you fund your travel expenses.
Once you apply, we will send you a sponsorship letter for you to send to friends, family and local business owners telling them about the cause. We have had volunteers in the past who have gotten their full trip balance paid this way.
You can also try fundraising for your trip. See if your church or local community center would let you hold a bake sale or other fundraiser. Past volunteers have held all kinds of events from car washes to formal black tie evenings to raise money for their trip. It all depends on how motivated and creative you are. You can have bake sales at your work or school or even ask a friend if they could donate a painting or jewelry for you to sell to raise money. This applies to jewelry sales as well which might work. One group did a weekly lunch at work and charged per coworker for sandwiches which they made themselves. Another volunteer's boyfriend was in a band and they convinced a local restaurant/bar owner to give them part of the proceeds from a night’s sales if her boyfriend's band played for free. There are lots of ways that you can make money for your trip; you might just have to work a little harder!
You can also speak with local small business owners or even send a letter to your local chain stores as most have a community service project and are willing to sponsor for volunteer opportunities. I hope that these ideas have been of some help to you.
Here are a couple of successful tips from past volunteers who funded their entire trip on donations and sponsorships!
- Handwrite a personal message on each letter asking for medical, dental or veterinary supplies and/or sponsorships to help offset your trip costs.
- Incorporate your goals and expectations for the trip, and then follow-up with your donors after your trip.
- Make your own sponsorship letter. Be creative! Highlight what about the trip sparks your interest and how you feel your experience will help those in need as well as help you define your career path.
- Make it personal! Address the letter to each individual you send it to, and sign your name at the bottom.
- Send your letter in an email and encourage family and friends to spread the word
- Give clear and easy instructions on how to make online donations or send a check. Create addressed envelopes with VIDA's address and the donor's personal return address and place a stamp on it so it is ready to send!
- Don't be shy! Send the letter to everyone you can: family, friends, church members, local doctors, dentists, veterinarians, pharmacies, etc. Think of all the people that sent you a high school graduation card and contact them!
- Start early! As soon as you confirm your spot on an upcoming trip, be sure to reach out to your community to help offset your trip cost. Having more time gives you a chance to analyze who you can contact and widen your reach depending on the response from your initial search.
- Send Thank-You letters! This is an extremely important part of fundraising, as you show that you are grateful for their support.
- Follow-up after your trip with a recap of your adventure and photos that explain how your experience changed your life.
You can also fundraise for your trip with Volunteer Forever!
Volunteer Forever’s mission is to make it easier for people to volunteer abroad, and their website is the perfect resource to kick-off your fundraising efforts.
Volunteer Forever offers a crowd funding platform where you can create a customized page highlighting your project and fundraising needs and receive online donations towards your trip. The Volunteer Forever crowd funding tool allows you to tap into the power of social media and your extended networks to reach out to as many people as possible. The donation process is simple and even allows for donors to share your campaign with their own networks!
Here are 10 tips to ensure you optimize your fundraising campaign:
- Tell Your Story. Your campaign page should be much more than the basic facts of where you’re going and how much money you need to raise. People respond to stories, so make sure your page explains yours. Why are you volunteering and what do you hope to achieve? What will their donations contribute towards? Don’t hold anything back- this is a life-changing experience, and the more enthusiastic you are about your trip the more likely it is they’ll get excited too.
- Share Your Page. Spread the word among everyone you can! This may include family, friends, past teachers, co-workers, community members, or even just people that you know on a Christmas-card basis. A good first step is to use the “Share” widget on your campaign page to promote the page through email, Facebook and Twitter.
- Ask Your Contacts to Share Your Page. Don’t limit your outreach to just people you think have the money to donate. One of the most powerful benefits of our crowd funding platform is that it makes it easy for others to share your page and reach an exponentially larger network. So when you share your page, ask people to share it with their contacts as well! If you don’t ask they may not even realize how they can help.
- Create Blog Posts. Use your blog section to tell the full story of your volunteer abroad trip and keep everyone updated of your progress. Are you doing anything to prepare for your adventure? Write a post about your training regimen or research work.
- Reach Out to Local Media. Send a short press release to your local media about the campaign. Make sure to include your campaign page link in the press release so people know where to go to donate. If you’re not comfortable writing a press release you can contact your local media and tell them about your volunteer abroad story, and they’ll let you know what they need from you.
- Take Advantage of Holidays & Special Events. No matter what time of the year you’re running your campaign, there’s usually some kind of holiday or special event you can integrate into your campaign. Make donations to your campaign the first thing you ask for as a Christmas, birthday, or graduation gift. And use holidays or other family get-togethers as an opportunity to show everyone your campaign page in person all at once.
- Thank Donors Publicly. People love recognition and this is your chance to give them well-deserved praise! Make it public so that everyone can see that someone has contributed to your campaign- this will help get additional donations from others. Also, when you thank your donors make sure to ask them to help you spread the word among their contacts as well.
- Share Your Page Again. And Again. You will be much more successful in raising funds if you continue to share your campaign multiple times. People may need several reminders before they take action. And use your campaign timeline to create a sense of urgency, especially towards the end.