by Samantha Martin, Guest Blogger and Director of Partner Relations & Project Advising at Project Travel

What is stopping you from traveling on a Greenheart Travel program? If your barrier starts with dollars and ends in cents, consider peer-funding! In addition to raising money to pay for your program expenses, you are also inviting your community to be a part of something that is important to you. Plus, you are building important professional skills like how to fundraise and communicate effectively on digital platforms. (You can even put a peer-funding Project on your resume!)

Here’s 5 steps to peer-fund your international  program.

1)  Start your Project. Getting started with your Project is simple. Create a username and follow the steps to edit your Project profile.

2)  Prepare your Project for launch by crafting your pitch, uploading photos, and organizing your engagement strategy. Write down a list of questions and concerns about peer-funding to discuss with your Project Adviser. Just like your Program Manager at Greenheart Travel is there to help you prepare for your international experience, your Project Adviser is there to help you successfully reach your Project goals!

3)  Share your Project with your community and include a clear call to action in every outreach message. A call to action should always link back to your Project and lets your supporters know what they can do to help you reach your goal.

For example:

  • (Call to action based on helping reach a milestone):  Hey everyone! I need to reach my 15% tipping point in order to access funds to buy my plane ticket for my upcoming Greenheart Travel program to Thailand. Will you help me get there by Friday? Thanks so much!
  • (Call to action based on a specific event) Hello friends and family! My birthday wish this year is to participate in a public health volunteer placement in Ecuador with Greenheart Travel. Will you help me get closer to my goal by the time I blow out my candles on Tuesday? Thanks! It means a lot to me.

4)  Stay engaged! People want to know what’s new, so tell them! Frequent updates are important to your success but avoid boring or annoying messages by giving brief updates via a short video, Tweet, or Facebook status message whenever you reach milestones such as getting accepted into your program, buying your plane ticket, reaching your 15% tipping point on your Project, etc. You can also get creative and engage your community beyond the Internet. Throw an event or give a presentation let attendees know that the optional donations for attending your event will go towards helping you reach your Project goal.

5)  Say thank you. Thank every single person personally who supports you by sharing your Project and/or donating money to you. If you do it via Facebook or Twitter, tag the supporter so they get extra props (and you get extra eyeballs on the newsfeed!). You may even consider going as far as sending a handwritten post-card to some of your supporters. While you are on your program and/or shortly after you return, follow up with your supporters (this time it is okay to simply send a group update) and thank them again and include photos and content about what your experience meant to you. They will feel special for being included on your VIP list and appreciate hearing how their support helped you have a life-altering experience.

Ready to peer-fund your international experience? Check out some other great resources on the Project Travel blog and start your Project today.