These days, I can't afford to travel. A trip to Canada and America (from the UK) this summer nearly bankrupted me and hopes of getting away at Christmas look to be dashed by the cost of the rest of my festivities.
Working in the UK gap year industry over the last few years, I have seen travellers becoming increasingly smart about how they finance their trips.
But when I took a gap year five years ago, things were different. I had no debts, a parent's roof over my head and a well-paid (if back-breaking) job in London. So what would I have to do today to get back out there and go travelling?
Fundraise, apparently. Working in the UK gap year industry over the last few years, I have seen travellers becoming increasingly smart about how they finance their trips. So smart, in fact, that whole charities and trusts have been set up just to help them on their way! But without a charity to bankroll your fun, who else can you turn to?
Between a few friends, some family, and a cunning fundraising event, you have loads of options. Seeing the earth need not cost it. Here are my ‘top ten' fundraising tips.
1. Think, ‘who do I know'?
Successful fundraising costs nothing and reaches everyone. Think: "who can help me?" Build your strategy around what you already have.
2. Always keep your reasons for travelling in mind
Being passionate about what you want to do always brings in the donations - especially when ‘face-to face' fundraising.
3. Choose to help someone along the way
Joining a volunteer project overseas will massively increase the chances of getting your airfare and spending money paid for.
4. Produce a fundraising leaflet
Explaining your passion for travelling and reasons for wanting to see more of/help the world. Include this leaflet in every bit of fundraising you do.
5. Have a goal
Know exactly how much you need to raise and account for every fundraising activity you do. Some ideas will work, other won't, but at least you won't repeat your mistakes.
6. Ask for specific donations
But don't stand by them. This gives your donors a benchmark and helps you gauge your progress towards your target.
7. Write well-targeted letters
To individuals, and individuals within companies, asking for support and always offering something in return, like talks, diaries or publicity.
8. Hold an (inexpensive!) event
And make it wacky. Draw attention to your goals, get sponsorship and give publicity to any companies who have already donated to your cause. It is a good idea to go for local press coverage too.
9. Offer something in return
To every sponsor who makes a donation. This could be as simple as a copy of your diary sent back to them via email when you are abroad.
10. Plan ahead
To avoid missing your targets. And be prepared for setbacks.
Fundraising ideas that worked
Louise Pearson held a sponsored car wash. Nothing unusual there you may think, except that the people doing the washing were ten of her girl friends—all of them dancers! A local TV station even turned up to film the proceedings…
Caroline Mercer auctioned her friends' services as ‘servants for a day' to her local community - raising the equivalent of $4,000.
James Vann held a ‘carbon neutral' fundraising project where he calculated the financial cost of his donor's emissions over a given period (using a special equation) and asked them to donate that amount on the promise that he would then plant the equivalent number of trees on a volunteer project in Ecuador. Absolute genius!
How to Write Successful Fundraising Letters (by Mal Warwick)
The Complete Fundraising Handbook (by Sam Clark)
Fundraising For Dummies (by John Mutz & Katherine Murray)Add this article to your reading list