Volunteer Forever is excited to introduce Josephina, as the recipient of the Spring 2015 Volunteer Forever Scholarship. To date, she has raised nearly $2,000 of her $2,400 goal, and has an inspiring story to share! Currently working towards master’s degrees in Public Health and Social Work, Josephina will be traveling to the Dominican Republic and Haiti, specifically working in medical clinics, with International Service Learning. She hopes that these intimate experiences will assist her in obtaining a stronger consideration of public health as a whole both domestically and internationally, and in turn, become a stronger and more efficient global humanitarian volunteer.
We’re super excited to share Josephina’s story and fundraising advice with you!
1. Can you tell us about your cause? What organization are you fundraising for?
Josephina: I will be working in both the Dominican Republic and Haiti with International Service Learning, INC. (ISL) on a public health team. We will be providing community and medical assessments and assisting already established medical clinics and the personnel working there.
2. How did you select this organization and why did you choose them?
Josephina: I had wanted to volunteer abroad for a long while, and always struggled finding an affordable NGO to go with. I wanted to ensure that the NGO did not have a “white savior” mentality and that had the mission to truly immerse volunteers within a culture and provide assistance in a productive way that allowed the communities being assisted to showcase their own strengths and capabilities.
3. How did you hear about the Volunteer Forever Scholarship? Have you researched other scholarships for volunteering or service abroad? Any tips or advice for others?
Josephina: The ISL website suggests using Volunteer Forever to fundraise for a trip, and so I decided to create a blog. I received an e-mail directly from Volunteer Forever team members alerting me of the scholarship available. This will be the first scholarship I have applied for and received. I had written my essay and was super proud of it, but then re-read it a couple of days later before submitting it and realized that it felt generic. I took the time to re-write the essay and truly discuss my desires to travel abroad and that volunteering felt like the best way to meet those personal life goals.
4. How did you let your friends, family members, and personal network know about your fundraising campaign?
Josephina: The first notification I sent out was to family and close friends via e-mail. I had made it clear that ANY amount would help immensely and that I would be incredibly appreciative if they could pass my e-mail along to any friends or co-workers they felt would want to help my cause. From there I received many donations from individuals I had actually never met. I also posted my blog on Facebook and LinkedIn on multiple occasions to alert my “not so close” friends.
5. How did you follow up with potential donors who were initially unresponsive?
Josephina: Honestly, I kept sending them e-mails until I at least received a response from them. If they had asked that I not continue to contact them, then I would end my persistent e-mailing. But if they mentioned that they were just waiting to submit a donation, I would continue sending e-mails.
6. What resources on Volunteer Forever have you been utilizing to run your campaign?
Josephina: I use all the social media websites to share my blog and post blog posts directly on my Volunteer Forever campaign page with updates about donation achievements and updates about my trip. I have shared my blog on Facebook about 5 times. I didn’t want to constantly post it in fear that my Facebook friends would slowly begin to not see the blog because it was on their feed so often. I have also asked friends to “share” my post to reach even more people.
7. Are there any specific donors or supporters that you would like to thank?
Josephina: Obviously the first supporter I would like to thank is Volunteer Forever for not only providing me an easy to use platform to create a blog but also for awarding me with this incredibly generous scholarship. I would also like to thank all my family and friends, especially those would donated when I know they should have saved their money. It means more than they could ever know that they support me and my endeavors.
8. Do you have any other tips you’d like to share?
Josephina: Go for co-workers of family members. I found that my mom was an excellent advocate for my trip and was able to describe why donations will be so invaluable better than I could myself.
9. What was the most important thing you did that contributed to your fundraising success (or anything else that you want to add)?
Josephina: Constant communication about my trip. I remind friends and family about when I am leaving and that donations can always be sent up until my departure date.
Kelly Ling · Guest Writer
Kelly Ling is a guest volunteer travel writer for Volunteer Forever.