For many people, the main concern when considering whether or not to volunteer abroad is the cost. Raising funds to cover your costs is entirely possible if you are prepared to put in the effort and be creative - and you will get more from your volunteer experience having done so. Furthermore, by organising fundraising events, you will raise awareness of issues in the country you will be travelling to.
It is important to let people know that you will be volunteering in a local project which is not in a position to cover your costs, so by helping you they are helping the project you will be volunteering at. It is really important that your donors understand that if you are fundraising for your programme fee, that these funds are not donated to your project. Your programme fees cover the costs of having you in-country, and cover such things as your transport, food, accommodation, staff costs etc.
While EIL is a not-for-profit organisation, it is not a charity, therefore you cannot fundraise under EIL's name.
It is important that you and your sponsors know how much money you aim to raise and what it will be spent on: this could be the programme fee or the cost of the flights, or funds specifically for your project. Be realistic - if you wish to cover all your costs, it will require commitment on your part.
- There are many ways to fundraise, and the more unique your idea the better chance it has of attracting attention.
- It's a good idea to link your fundraising activity with the type of voluntary work you will be doing or the country you are going to. For example, an Indian themed cultural evening if you are going to India, or a beach clean-up if you are going to do conservation work.
- Keep a record of all your fundraising activities, how much was raised, and who your sponsors are.
- EIL Intercultural Learning is not responsible for the money you will raise and you cannot ask for any official fundraising permits in the name of EIL.
Who Will Sponsor You?
- Your workplace/college is a great place to start. Organise an event (such as a head-shave, raffle etc) and make sure everyone donates. See if your employer will match your fundraising or make a contribution.
- Local businesses are often willing to contribute. Be sure to use any contacts you may have, and write to as many as you can. Try to make it more attractive by offering to use their name at any events you are organising.
When organising a fundraising event, try to get as much publicity for it as possible. Local/college newspapers and radio stations will often give such events a mention; use notice-boards in the locality; and most importantly make sure everyone you know spreads the word. If you are using a venue for the event, try to use your contacts to find somewhere free of charge. For ticketed events, print out plenty of tickets - people may by them even if they cannot attend.
The more unique your event the better. Use your imagination, and organise something that will suit your personality and the resources you can call upon. Here are some ideas to get you started:
- Table quiz
- Raffle (if you know someone who has a shop, they might sell tickets and provide a prize)
- Cultural event (live music, themed night etc)
- Sponsored run/swim/cycle
- Sponsored community service (clean-up etc)
- Cake sale
- Selling lines (again if you know a shop/pub owner, they might put up a sheet and take donations)
- Car-boot sale
- Supermarket bag pack
June Keohane has been volunteering in Guatemala and tells us about her successful fundraising experience:
"When I first applied for a volunteer abroad programme what worried me most was the fundraising. I had never done anything like that before and was afraid that I wouldn't reach my target, as it turned out I raised enough to pay for the program and extra to donate to the care centre I went to volunteer with. The best advice I can give with regards to fundraising is just to speak to as many people as possible about what you are doing. Not just your friends and family but local business owners, teachers at your school/college, your employers anybody who will listen really.
- Ask people to tell you about fundraisers they've been to and find out how they were organised. I found the best people to ask about this were local bar owners, they hold so many events for sports clubs, well-known charities and individuals like you that their advice can be invaluable. They will know what kind of events will be the most successful, who can help you to organise an event and they may even pay for the advertising!
- You can get extra publicity by writing to a local newspaper or speaking on local radio as well, you may even get sponsorship from business owners in your area to print posters.
- If you are looking for prizes for a raffle or something similar don't be shy about approaching businesses for donations. Most places will be happy to donate something if the name of their business will be advertised as it is very good publicity for them!
- It may help to have a short letter explaining what you are doing and a letter of reference from EIL to give to the manager of the business. Just tell them briefly what you are looking for and say that you can return in a few days to collect any donation they can give.
- Other than this it would be a good idea to approach local schools and ask if they would be willing to hold a non-uniform day or a bake sale to raise funds as well.
- Try to approach as many people as possible as there are so many causes looking for support that you may only get a positive response from 50% of the people you approach, you should consider any more than that an extra bonus.
- As well as all this I have to say don't refuse any offers of help when it comes to organising events, campaigning for support/donations or any other aspect of your fundraising. You will have a lot to do before starting your program and you don't want any unnecessary stress!
Most people can help just by making sure to bring a few people along to your events or bringing a sponsorship card to their place of work, to their friends and their family. The whole process can be a bit nerve-wracking but I think you will be surprised by how well people respond to projects like these. So good luck, have fun and I hope this advice will help you get to where you want to go!"