When planning out a gap year or even deciding on travel for the future. It’s not unheard of advice to go volunteering abroad. It is a once in a lifetime experience for some and also an opportunity to help out those who are really in need. Whether it involves teaching children in India to building toilets in central Africa, there is organisation after organisation that specialise in all types of charity work. Some organisations may appeal to students, who are looking to accomplish new adventures over the summer while others appeal to qualified teachers and aim to utilize their teaching skills in the third world on a long term basis; it all boils down to one ultimatum however and that is a hefty fee for flights, accommodation and even building materials. Which in turn leads to the necessity to fundraise for any prospective volunteers; unless they intend to fork out the price of a Caribbean cruise on a week of volunteer work.
If you search online, there is no shortage of advice on how to fundraise, from pub quizzes, to local discos, coffee mornings to bag packing in the local supermarket. However with a bombardment of success stories, fundraising can be made to seem like a piece of cake. It isn’t, it takes hard-work, strategy and perseverance and there are a lot of easy mistakes to make when it comes to fundraising.
While I learned the hard way, here are some ways how not to fundraise:
Do not rely solely on networking sites: While viral marketing campaigns including ‘like and share on facebook’ may go down well for major companies like Benefit and Universal records that already have a major consumer base, not many people will respond to similar attempts for an unheard of charity. Unless someone is a close family friend or in fact a family member, it is unlikely that they will go to the effort to get out their laser card and donate online.Despite the extreme advancements in technology, word of mouth is still the most effective way to fundraise.
Do not procrastinate: You need to be dedicated to fundraising. And it is always easier to get events out of the way so that you can look forward to the trip, rather than stress about half a grand you don’t have in your account two days before the due date. If you say you are going to hold an event or go door to door, do it sooner rather than later. The longer you leave it, the more stressful fundraising becomes.
Do not be afraid to be persistent: While constantly updating people on events might leave you feeling like a pest, it has to be done. When it comes to fundraising, people can be inclined to forget, it doesn’t mean that they’re not interested. You need to constantly remind people of events, when they’re on and what work you are doing.
Do not mistake your target audience: Make sure that you target audience will in interested in any events you are trying to promote and furthermore ensure that they are the type of people who will be willing to donate money to charity, appealing to students may be as fruitful as growing a farm in a desert. Also different types of fundraising may appeal to different regions/demographics. While a pub quiz may be worth while in a small village with one pub, the same may not be said for a large town with 40 pubs. Decide on who you are targeting before you plan an events.
Don’t overspend on fundraising: It just doesn’t make sense to fork out 50 quid on fancy baking ingredients if you are having a coffee morning or 200 euro for a function room. So when planning events, always be careful with expenditure and whether the costs and effort required will make sense in the long run.
Don’t do it alone: Being alone can take the fun out of fundraising. Particularly when you go door to door, persistent refusals may be humorous when you have someone to share the experience with. Other than that, it can be pretty miserable. Fundraising can be that bit easier if you have other volunteers with you or even if you get your friends to give you a hand.
And in the end never lose faith in yourself or sight of the fact that all your work is going to towards a good cause, no matter how stressful it may seem in the short run.