Guest post by Billy Beltz
Co-Founder & CMO
For many people traveling abroad and participating in a meaningful activity such as volunteering, studying, teaching, or interning can be a life-changing experience. But the costs associated with these trips can be overwhelming, especially for young people. A recent graduate may have the time, passion and dedication to serve or learn overseas but not the funds. They might be surprised, however, how willing their personal network is to help them make the trip a reality. At Volunteer Forever we’ve created a solution to help harness that collective support and allow travelers to raise funds for their trip abroad.
The Volunteer Forever fundraising solution is built off the concept of allow users to create a campaign page that conveys their story and fundraising needs in a simple yet powerful way, and provides them with the tools to promote the campaign to their extended network. This is basically what many people refer to as ‘crowdfunding.’ If done correctly it can allow people to reach exponentially more donors than they ever would have through traditional fundraising methods.
Interested? The first step is to create a campaign page on Volunteer Forever. But setting up your page is the easy part- the success of your fundraising campaign is determined by what you do afterwards! So here are 7 tips to ensure you optimize your fundraising campaign:
- Give a Good First Impression. Because you may not be speaking to some of your donors directly, your profile page must present a strong first impression for your fundraising project and goals. Include all of the information on your profile that potential donors will want - your itinerary, a purposeful budget and most importantly, the details of the organization and project you plan to work with.
- 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. If you’re volunteering, why are you choosing to serve and what do you hope to achieve? If you’re studying abroad, how do you foresee this trip impacting your life now and in the future? 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 crowdfunding 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.
- 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. If you’re in the U.S., take advantage of having everyone around for Thanksgiving. Make donations to your campaign the first thing you ask for as a Christmas, birthday, or graduation gift. And use other holidays or 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.
Remember- the wider audience you reach, the more likely it is that you’ll catch the attention of people who will donate to your cause. If your story is engaging and persuasive enough, you may find that you exceed your fundraising goal, as some users have already done on Volunteer Forever! And then suddenly your dream of travelling abroad in a meaningful way becomes a reality.
Volunteer Forever makes it easier for people to find and fund their volunteer abroad trips. The website features program reviews to help volunteers discover and select the right overseas placement, as well as a unique crowdfunding platform that allows users to tap into the power of their extended networks and raise funds for their trip more effectively. To learn more visit www.volunteerforever.com.