How To Fund Your Volunteer Abroad Adventure

by Vanessa Santillan

Volunteering abroad is a fantastic way to travel and see the world while using your skills and time to help a community in need. It can also be a source of personal transformation while providing positive benefits to a community. However, going abroad for a volunteer experience can be expensive. There are program fees, insurance requirements, plane tickets, other overhead costs, and hopefully a little extra for fun. While some volunteers have ample access to funds for their volunteer trip, the reality is that most need to do some serious fundraising and saving to finance their trip.

A young girl enjoys a snack prepared by volunteers. Pictures like these help people connect with your project and create a successful campaign.
A young girl enjoys a snack prepared by volunteers. Pictures like these help people connect with your project and create a successful campaign. Photo by Troy Peden

Don’t let financial barriers keep you from participating in such a meaningful activity. 

1. Create a Website or Blog

Your own website or blog is not only a potential source of income or fundraising but also the ideal way to share photos and stories of your experiences. Use your blog section to tell the full story of your volunteer abroad trip and keep everyone updated of progress. A blog or website lets everyone who supports you financially take part in your adventures and could motivate others to donate. Fund My Travel allows hopeful volunteers the ability to create unique campaigns. Supporters can use easily donate, receive thank you messages and exciting updates, and view progress. Be sure to use other social media channels as well like Facebook to remind people about your campaign.

2. Tell a Compelling Story

Why have you decided to engage in this form of meaningful travel and what will donations contribute to? People respond to stories, so make sure yours is engaging, which is likely pretty easy considering you are hoping to volunteer internationally. It’s equally important to communicate in your fundraising campaign description. The more enthusiastic you are about your trip the more likely it is to get others excited.

How To Tell a Compelling Story

1) Connect the Reader to the Population or Location. Tell the reader a little about the children you hope to teach English to or the community where you want to build houses. Share with the readers the same reasons that made you want to go there.

2) Illustrate the Need. Those who have experienced international volunteering already know that it can be expensive, but your potential donors may not. Things like: you actually have to pay a program fee, travel insurance, and airfare can be a shock to someone who has never looked into international volunteerism. Be sure to provide a breakdown of how the funds will used.  

3) Directly State the Mission: How Will You Help. Tell the problem and the solution by illustrating how you will spend your time. The more intimate, the more engaging your story will be. Think about the sentence: “I will teach kids English,” versus the sentence, “I will teach young children in a local village English skills through games and daily lessons.”

*The most successful campaigns are complete and have a direct way of thanking people or showing them results* 

3. Decide on a Volunteer Project and Set a Reasonable Goal

With so many choices out there, it can be so hard to ascertain how beneficial a project is, so keep looking. Choose the organization that enables you to do “real good”. Then from there, work out how much time you have and give yourself month by month fundraising aims. This helps you visualize how best to spend your time and money.

4. Utilize Your Relationships

Don’t limit your outreach to just people you think have the money to donate or family members. Make a list of the people you know and who might be able to contribute. Remember even $5 donations add up! Always think about who you know that could help you. When you share your page, ask people to share it with their contacts too. If you don’t ask they may not even realize how they can help.

5.  Don’t forget to say “Thank you” Publicly

Make all your “thank yous” public so that everyone can see that someone has contributed to your campaign. This might just help get additional donations from others. Consider making a short video during your program then posting it online as a thank you message or making a small handmade craft for each donor. 

6.  Keep Sharing! 

People need several reminders before they act.  So spread the word among everyone continuously. Many campaigners make the mistake of a strong initial outreach then just waiting. Don’t let your drive go stagnant. Pick good beginning, middle, and nearly finish marks and do additional pushes.  A good first step is to use the “Share” widget on your campaign page to promote the page through email, Facebook, and Twitter.

You will be much more successful in raising funds if you continue to share your campaign multiple times and throughout the whole process. Use your campaign timeline to create a sense of urgency, especially towards the end. Be sure to remind people of the approaching deadline.