Top 5 Volunteer Abroad Crowdfunding Myths Dispelled
You’ve selected your volunteer abroad placement and launched your online fundraising campaign to raise money for your trip. Now it's time to sit back and watch the donations roll in! Err, not exactly. Sure, you no longer have to go door-to-door asking for donations or set up a lemonade stand, but you’re still going to have to work to get those donations. Here are the top 5 myths that fundraisers have when raising money for their trips abroad.
1) “People ‘get’ why I’m volunteering abroad”
As you’re setting up your fundraising campaign, the MOST important thing you must do is tell a compelling story. Each person has their own motivation for volunteering overseas, but it’s important to communicate in your fundraising campaign description why you’ve decide to engage in this form of meaningful travel. Also, talk about what you plan to do while you are abroad- whether you’ll be teaching English in Africa or serving on a medical mission in Peru – be sure to highlight how you’re going to add value to the host community. Furthermore, describe why you need the funds. Those of us experienced with international volunteering know that it can be expensive, but your potential donors may not know that you have to pay a program fee, travel insurance, and airfare (all of which can easily add up to thousands of dollars). Lastly, discuss how the experience will contribute to your personal development. For example, will volunteering on a medical volunteer abroad trip aid in your development as a doctor, nurse, dentist, or veterinarian? Be sure to weave all of these details into a thoughtful narrative that will connect with donors.
2) “If I build it, they will come”
This myth is definitely the biggest one to dispel! Just because your campaign is live, it doesn’t mean the donations will automatically follow. You’re going to have to work hard to actively promote it and bring donors to your crowdfunding page. E-mail, text messages, Facebook, and other social media tools are now your best friends. While you may not have to organize a car wash or go door-to-door asking for donations, you will have to put in some work to connect with donors and communicate your story.
Tip- check out what Yesenia, who raised over $1500 in four days, did to promote her campaign:
1. "I immediately sent out an email to all my friends and family. I asked them to check out the page and then SHARE it with all their friends."
2. "I posted [my crowdfunding] page onto my Facebook account."
3. "I sent out a text message with the link to the [crowdfunding] page to pretty much everyone I know."
3) “I can count on random acts of kindness to fund my campaign”
Unfortunately, there isn’t a group of random strangers waiting to donate to your crowdfunding campaign. There’s an art to crowdfunding and it starts by tapping into your core network. Think for a second and jot down the 10 closest people in your life.Parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, close friends- these are the people you should engage first in asking for a donation for your volunteering abroad crowdfunding campaign. These people know and trust you and will be comfortable donating to your cause. People outside your core network such as acquaintances, friends of the family, and distant relatives may only be comfortable donating to you after they’ve seen that other people have done so.
4) “If someone doesn’t donate, they’re a lost cause.”
There are two parts to this myth. The first part of the myth is that people will donate as soon as you ask them to. However, people lead increasingly busy lives and are constantly bombarded by ads, e-mails, and requests for their time. Your donation may get lost in the barrage of everyday life. Or, your donor may intend to donate to you, but higher priority items on the to-do list prevent them from getting around to it. You’ll need to re-engage your donors multiple times to get them to donate. Send follow-up e-mails, text messages, and phone calls. Post and re-post your link on Facebook periodically and let your donors know that your campaign only has XX days to go!
The second part is that a person must donate in order to be helpful to your campaign. Crowdfunding can be a numbers a game. Typically, what we have seen is the fundraising campaigns with the most views tend to have the most donations. So, if your Aunt Sally can’t donate moeny, there might be someone in her network who can. Therefore, in addition to asking people to donate to your campaign, ask them to share your campaign as well.
Tip- Include the following statement in your e-mails and Facebook posts: “Even if you can’t donate, will you support the cause by sharing my fundraising page with your family and friends?”
5) “It’s Day X and I don’t have any donations- I should give up”
You pour your heart out letting the world know about your volunteer trip, you send your fundraising link out to your family and friends, you follow-up regularly, and still nothing. The truth is getting that first donation can be the hardest. Crowdfunding is definitely not for the faint of heart! If you’re not having any luck with your campaign, it’s time to start tweaking your approach. You’ve heard the quote: “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” Take a look at look at your profile and see what you can improve. Can you upload a better picture or be clearer in telling your story? Ask people you trust to look at your profile and ask “why or why not would you donate to my campaign?” It’s hard to ask for critical feedback, but it could make the difference between crowdfunding success and failure!
Tip: Follow-up with people who haven’t donated to your campaign and ask them why. Include this line in your e-mail to potential donors you trust, but haven’t responded: “If you have thirty seconds, can you let me know what’s preventing you from supporting my campaign?”
Need more tips? Check out this fundraising guide to learn how to maximize your Volunteer Forever fundraising campaign. Also, check out our tips for finding low-cost projects, finding free airfare, and scholarships to travel abroad.