Every online fundraising campaign needs a boost from time to time. When your donations have slowed down to all but a trickle, it’s time to liven things up! There’s much more to online fundraising than just directing people to a donation page, and it’s important to keep your online fundraising campaign fresh and relevant to appeal to donors. The key to keeping donations high is to find a way to connect with your supporters in a meaningful way; this is at the heart of all successful fundraising campaigns!

Two women high fiving at a cafe table

Making meaningful connections is a surefire way to achieve successful online fundraising campaigns.

Hitting your fundraising goal can make or break your time abroad, which means you need to put your best foot forward when crowdfunding online. There is always room for improvement to your online campaign! Little tweaks can offer big returns, so it is worth revisiting your online campaign page and updating your fundraising strategy. These 7 tips will help you figure out how to increase donations and liven up your fundraising campaign!

How to improve your online fundraising campaign—small changes with big returns

1. Tap into your passion—and show it!

You can’t fake passion and authenticity, and these are two things that many people value deeply. One of the best ways to connect with people is through a shared passion. At the very least, even if your opportunity abroad is not related to their passions, showing your donors that you are passionate will pique their interest.

Everyone knows how it feels to be passionate about something, and when you’re moved by a story or a cause, you want to support it. When people realize how close to your heart this opportunity abroad is, the donation process feels much more meaningful. Most importantly: you have to be able to communicate your passion. It is a way of proving that people should donate to you.

Here are a couple of questions to start with: Why is this opportunity so important to you, and how will it make you and the world around you a better place? These questions should reveal the passion behind your journey abroad. Your campaign doesn’t have to be over the top to convey passion; you can convey it through writing something heartfelt, and even a genuine smile in a campaign video can make it clear that your cause is close to your heart.

Woman smiling outdoors

Don’t hide how you feel! If you want to know how to get donations online, the answer is to be passionate and genuine.

2. Make sure you are telling a story

Everyone loves a good backstory! Stories humanize us and connect us. There’s a reason why you are fundraising (beyond the fact that you just need the moola). There’s a history of decisions, passions, and maybe even coincidences behind your decision to go abroad. Tell it!

Once again, connections help drive donations. There is probably an aspect to your story that donors can connect to: a love for travel, a love for helping others, a dream of studying abroad—these are all things that many people have experienced at some point! Your backstory gives donors more insight into who you are and your reasons for going abroad. A good story is a major driving factor behind successful fundraising campaigns!

3. Put a face to your story

This small change can elevate your fundraising campaign. If you are using generic photos (or even worse—NO photos), you’re missing out on a big way to connect to your donors. Sure, many of your donors will probably already know what you look like, but you can take your story to the next level by using imagery to your advantage. When people can connect a story to a face, it humanizes the narrative. It’s not just words on a page; it shows that the story is connected to a person with a past, and with hopes and dreams for the future.

You can do this in a number of ways. For example, if you are saving to volunteer abroad, you can include photos of the communities you will be helping. You can include photos of individual within that community, and the ways that this trip may help them. For environmental volunteering, you can include photos of the flora and fauna you will be conserving (who doesn’t love some cute animal photos)? If it is a more personal cause, like work or study abroad, you can include photos of yourself participating in activities that are related to your job or field of study.

Woman on top of a mountain taking photos

Stellar photography does a ton of heavy lifting when it comes to your online fundraising campaign.

4. Use compelling images

Images that tell a story, images that are beautiful, images that capture an important or emotional moment…these are the types of images that draw people in! It is easy to scroll past a bunch of words on a page. But pair it with a compelling image, and people are more likely to stop and pay attention.

First, make sure you have the basics covered. Images that are focused, not too dark or light, and that have a connection to your campaign (they need to have a reason for being on your page). Then there are some aspects that can bring your images to the next level. For example, capturing an authentic moment or emotion related to your trip, interesting related subject matter (e.g. a famous or unique location, or aspect of the country you will be visiting), and bright or photogenic color scheme that captures your attention. The main point is: images are important. Make sure to take the time to choose and edit meaningful photos to use for your campaign!

5. Let donors know exactly where their money will go

When it comes to donations, most people want to know where their money will go. When you are giving away money in good faith, it feels good to know that it will be used wisely. One simple way of showing this is by including a list of expenses you are fundraising for. For example, are you fundraising for flights, program fees, or tuition (maybe all of the above)? Donors are more likely to donate if they know their money is going towards the intended cause and not being spent frivolously.

If you want to take it a step further, you can even show a budget break down and the amount you hope to raise per expense. Figuring out a budget is something that you need to do for any trip, and one way to keep control of your spending is by sharing this information. Creating a budget will give you an accurate idea of how much money you need to raise. By making it public (even just between you and a few of your donors) it will set you up to be more accountable for your spending.

Three women laughing together

While running an online fundraising campaign, make sure to be transparent with your donors about what their money is funding.

6. Edit with a fine-toothed comb

There is nothing worse than reading something littered with spelling and grammar mistakes. It can make a good fundraising campaign look careless and slapped together—which is definitely not the kind of look you want when you are asking for donations!

Beyond just editing grammar and spelling mistakes, you should also edit the tone and flow of your campaign. Try your best to let your personality shine through! A personable piece is much more likely to attract the attention of donors. Your online fundraising campaign is integral to your fundraising efforts, so it is worth your time to double (and triple check) your work.

7. Say “Thank You” effectively by offering a token of appreciation

Hopefully, you are already doing something to make your donors feel appreciated (if not, you really, really need to start!). Your donors are helping you achieve your dreams, and that is something to be thankful for. There’s more to online fundraising than just figuring out how to get donations online; you also need to make sure your past donors feel appreciated!

This can be as simple as a grateful email to say thank you and let your donors know that their donation will take you far (literally)! Other ideas can include postcards or small gifts from your time abroad. You can also highlight donors in a social media post (everyone loves a shout-out). Just make sure you are saying thank you in some way!

A thank you card next to a latte on a table top

Whether by text, by letter, or in person over a latte, showing your donors that they’re appreciated is a fundraising best practice.

Need some examples? Here are 4 successful FundMyTravel fundraising campaigns

1. Interning in Dublin

This campaign answers the three most important questions within the first few sentences: what, where, and why. They explain why they are passionate about their internship field and also why they chose Ireland as their destination. The photos used reflect the beauty of Ireland (it even makes us want to jet over there!) This fundraising campaign managed to surpass its goal by 20%. Not too shabby!

2. Mental Health Placement in Sri Lanka

This fundraiser breaks down exactly how the volunteer will help mental health efforts in Sri Lanka. It gives an excellent explanation of the importance of this volunteer trip. They specify that they are collecting donations towards their program fee, which gives donors a good idea of how their money is being spent. This online fundraising campaign managed to reach its goal with almost a month left to spare.

3. Honeymoon Fund

This one takes advantage of a sentimental event to raise travel funds. Instead of asking for gifts, it is a call for donations towards a honeymoon trip. Asking for donations in lieu of physical gifts is a great way to maximize your donations!

4. Volunteer in Bali

This campaign shares a detailed background story, and also a cost breakdown. It is easy to see that effort was put into this campaign (and it paid off!). It even includes a list of donor gifts that will be given depending on how much you donate. All of these aspects definitely helped make this a successful fundraising campaign.

Now you know how to increase donations online!

Friends hanging out together at golden hour

Make connections, be genuine, and tell a great story, and you’ll be well on your way to a successful online fundraising campaign.

It can be tough to get over your mid-campaign lull. After the initial surge of donations starts slowing down, you can be left wondering how to keep the wave going. No matter how excellent your original idea was, every campaign can use some livening up from time to time! You need to put in work at every step to keep your campaign memorable and relevant, and to keep those donations coming in.

A strong online fundraising campaign can give the push you need to reach your donation goal. Creating a clear and concise fundraising campaign is a big task, but it is totally doable! If you’re wondering how to get donations online, the main aspect you should focus on is forging a connection with your donors. There are small improvements that you can make to any fundraising campaign to boost its effectiveness. These tips will help your online fundraising campaign stand out from the rest!

Haven’t started your fundraising campaign yet? It’s time! Create a Fund My Travel fundraising campaign and start collecting donations today!

jasmine harding headshotThis article was written by Jasmine Harding. Jasmine recently graduated from Western University with a degree in Media, Information, and Technoculture. She lived in 5 different countries before she turned 7 years old, but she claims that none of them “count” since she doesn’t remember them. She can’t wait to actually live in 5 different countries! In her spare time, you can find her playing with cats or watching food documentaries on Netflix.