1. Can you tell us about your cause and why you chose Global Leadership Adventures?
Riley: I will be traveling to Guatemala with Global Leadership Adventures. For the community service aspect of the trip, I will be working at a school that seeks to keep the indigenous Maya language and culture at the forefront of the children’s education.
I knew I wanted to interact with and help to better the lives of children so from that standpoint GLA was a good fit. I’m excited that my service will be two-pronged – the mornings will be spent making tangible changes at the school through helping to build and/or refurbish classrooms, while the afternoons will enable me to interact personally with the students. From my parent’s standpoint, they thoroughly researched GLA and were impressed with their commitment to details and safety.
2. How did you let your friends and family members know about your fundraising campaign?
Riley: The first thing I did after setting up my Volunteer Forever page was to share it on Facebook. After that, I wrote a letter detailing in-depth why achieving this goal was so important to me. The past year of my life has been full of personal challenges, and our family received so much love and support that having an opportunity to “give back” is very important to me. In addition to sharing my Volunteer Forever page on Facebook 2-3 times a week, I also shared the letter I wrote in private Facebook messages, or via e-mail or “snail mail” to folks who are not active on social media.
3. How did you follow up with potential donors who were initially unresponsive?
Riley: This aspect of my campaign was an uncomfortable hurdle at first because I didn’t want to bother people. What finally worked for me as a follow up was to shoot a quick e-mail or private message on Facebook that provided my total amount raised to date. Rather than asking for a donation in the follow-up, I often just asked for help in casting a wider net. Many contacts immediately shared my link on their Facebook pages after receiving this follow up communication.
4. What resources on Volunteer Forever did you utilize while running your campaign?
Riley: Honestly, not many, although the amount of resources available is great. After initially setting up my page I intended to come back and post a video, do a blog post, etc., but focused more on the one-on-one appeal my letter provided.
5. Are there any specific donors that you would like to thank?
Riley: I honestly couldn’t begin to single out any specific donors. Each donation, no matter the size, touched me immensely. Most of the people who donated have never even met me, but my mom made sure to tell me personal stories about each donor, highlighting challenges and successes from their lives that may have led to their willingness to donate to my campaign. As I prepare to embark on this journey, which will be my first time traveling alone, and first time leaving the country, I feel so confident and supported thanks to the good wishes and words of encouragement that accompanied many of the donations I received.
6. What was the most important thing you did that contributed to your fundraising success (or anything else that you want to add)?
Riley: I feel the most important thing I did that contributed to my success was to vary my approach. Not only did this keep my campaign fun and interesting, but it enabled me to reach a wider audience. I used the Volunteer Forever page, Facebook, a personal letter, spoke to a moderate-sized group at a retreat my mom and I attended and will be holding three bake sales in the next week.
7. Do you have any other tips you’d like to share?
Riley: Don’t be afraid to ask, and don’t be afraid to really personalize why this experience is important to you. When I first began this campaign it felt weird asking people for money, but once the donations began I began to really embrace the fundraising campaign as an integral part of this experience. I also found that sharing the story of the challenges I’ve faced that led me to this point was very empowering. With the increasing popularity of crowdfunding, I think it’s so important to take the time before you begin fundraising to really think about your reasons for making this journey. Ask yourself: Why this trip? Why now? What do I feel I can bring to this experience that will benefit my host community? What do I hope to bring back, in terms of personal growth, and impacting others by sharing my story?