The greatest obstacle I faced in studying abroad as an independent first-generation college student was the daunting task of coming up with the money for the trip. I didn’t have a fancy job to pay for the trip myself, nor did I have a generous friend or family member who was willing to fork out thousands of dollars to me. What I did have was internet access and determination. With these two things, I came up with a couple scholarships and a generous Go Fund Me account. Here are a few suggestions I offer if you are considering a trip and possibly going the crowd-funding route to get your cash.
1. Release the website early enough so that people can plan ahead and budget (think of sharing it on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.).
2. Share your post more often as the trip comes closer.
3. Put a new message with each post, personalized with the percentage of coverage you have received, scholarships you have been awarded, and possibly even tag individuals in thank you messages. People spent personal time working for the money they are giving you, you should be able to take a moment to make your request feel personal as well.
4. Ask your friends (in a personal one-on-one conversation) to click “share” on your post. Try to ask a friend from each group you frequent (if they are a good friend, you can ask them to include a personal message with their share as well). For example – one friend from your church group, one from your family, one from your job, and one from the nonprofit organization you volunteer at (so that people who know who you are but might not be your Facebook friend can see it, more people will donate if they repeatedly see the post, especially if it is not always coming from you).
5. Birthday coming up? Holiday? Ask for gifts on GoFundMe in lieu of other gifts.
You could also make an Amazon wish list with the items you need for your trip, which would ease the burden of the collection you’ll need on GoFundMe as well as give people the chance to feel like they’re picking you out a gift instead of giving you money (which some people really like). On my Amazon Wishlist I included a universal power adapter, a wallet for my credit cards that has a protective feature sewn into the lining, an external cell phone charger, comfortable walking shoes… you can set your amazon settings for these gifts to be sent directly to your house and they are removed off of the gift list when they are purchased to avoid double gifting.
6. MAKE SURE TO SEND THANK YOUS – one right away, so they know how much you appreciate them, and then again when you return and settle down so you can share a photo and a story with them. This can be done face to face, online, or on paper BUT one of the two thank-yous should be a nice card/letter which the person can keep (the type of people that donate to young people’s academic futures are often times the type of people that love to hang on to thank you cards on their fridge as a reminder of the kind thing they did and the person they love who got to enjoy the trip).
Good luck, and happy fund raising!