Oftentimes people create a campaign without any prep work – they just jump right in! While we love how excited new fundraisers are, the truth is that sometimes this up front enthusiasm can be lost after a few weeks. At FundMyTravel, we want to do what we can to support the success of your campaign, but the only person who can make it truly successful is you. Here are some things to ask yourself before you get started – figuring out these things ahead of time will give you a game plan, which is half the battle. If you’ve already created a campaign, no worries – you can use these tips, too!
What is my story?
What led you to be interested in this location or trip? How does it fit into your current identity, past experiences, and future goals? Why should people donate to your campaign? Trips volunteering abroad sometimes have an easier time explaining the impact they will have on the community and people, but fundraisers going on programs to study, intern, or learn a language also have a great opportunity to tell their story. Figuring out the narrative for your story is an important part of getting people interested and making it resonate.
What am I doing offline?
Even though you are fundraising online, it’s still important to inform your donors what you are doing outside of your FundMyTravel campaign. This can be a key element to ensuring that your campaign doesn’t come across as asking for a handout and is instead seen as a tool you’re using to reach your goals. If you have financial aid, scholarships, or grants, it is good to mention this (you don’t have to give specific numbers). It’s also important to mention you’ll be using your own funds if that’s something you’re doing – for example sharing that you’ve been saving money the last two years for the trip makes people understand the importance.
What updates will I post?
Successful fundraisers keep their past and potential donors informed with updates. We suggest posting an update at least twice per month. Lay out how often you’re going to post an update and brainstorm different types of updates you could share. You could post when you get your housing assignment or internship placement, or when you register for a cultural excursion. Updates don’t have to be long or involved, but they are another way to stay on people’s mind. They also give you something to push out on social media other than your default campaign page. Keeping your audience informed makes them a part of your journey and makes them feel rewarded.
Who will support me?
Everyone has a core group of friends and family who they know they can reach out to. You can for sure count on your mom, your Aunt Dorothy, and that strange guy from high school who still likes your Facebook posts for at least a small donation. If you notice someone from your core group who hasn’t donated, sometimes an individual email or message is all it takes. But the key to a successful campaign is getting support from people beyond that core group – your acquaintances, the friends of friends, and others you may not think of such as your employer. The best way to do this goes back to #1 – how can you make your story resonate with the most people possible?
You should also establish who within your network has a high level of resources or connections. By reaching out to these people individually, you can show that you appreciate them. If they have a big community that they could share your campaign with, they might be willing to do so. You could also consider approaching newspapers, blogs, and television – especially in a small town, or at your college, someone crowdfunding for an international trip might be newsworthy. Finally, list out friends or family who could donate their skills if they are not able to support you financially. Maybe your friend is really into film – can she create a video for your campaign? Perhaps your cousin works for a local arts venue – can he get you a free night to hold a fundraising event?
How will I stay motivated?
There will come a time when you get discouraged during your campaign – maybe more than once. During these times, it helps to have a plan for staying motivated. Maybe you write thank you notes and mail them to all of your donors, as a way to focus on what you’ve already raised. Perhaps you go back to your motivation for wanting to take the trip in the first place – whether it’s to help a community or expand your mind. Maybe you take another look at our Fundraising Toolkit to see if any of the suggestions resonate with you. Maybe you wait to send out any individual outreach until you reach a lull – that way you can get motivated again by the incoming donations!
What will I do for my donors during and after the campaign?
Donors want to feel exclusive. They want to feel like they are special and get something that your followers and friends don’t get. Can you give them an exclusive post on your blog every few weeks? Can you send them video updates along the way that are emailed, rather than public? What information can you give them that won’t be shared with anyone else? This is important to include in your campaign description because it might motivate someone to donate who otherwise wouldn’t have.
Another thing to determine ahead of time is how to thank your donors. You don’t have to include this in your campaign description, but it’s good to know for yourself. You should say “thank you” to donors publicly if you’re able to – writing on their Facebook wall or tagging them in a status is great! Publicly thanking can actually lead to more donations, since others see this and want to be a part of it. If your donor is not on Facebook, sending a written thank you note would be a great choice.
So you’ve answered all of these questions? Great! The good news is, you can use your answers to numbers 1, 2, and 6 to basically create your campaign description. Plus, you’ve already outlined your future updates (#3), outreach plan (#4), and given yourself the tools you need to stay motivated (#5). Well done! We can’t wait to see what you do.
And remember, if you ever feel like you need a little extra motivation, you can always email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
About the Author:
As a member of the FundMyTravel team, Nikki likes supporting fundraisers so they can be successful. She’s always looking for tips and tricks that can help campaigners. When she’s not at work, she might be snowboarding, traveling abroad, or visiting her family back home in Wisconsin.