Getting Started

While finding the funds for your travel costs, program deposit and fee requires commitment and planning, you’ve already taken a huge leap in the right direction. Now, keep your energy high, get excited, and get going!

Asking for Donations

START WITH THE EASY WINS

Make a quick list of the top people in your life who care about you and your success and are always there to help you achieve your goals. Your mom, dad, brother, sister, grandparents, friends, etc. Shoot them a quick note. Give them a call. If they love you as much as you think, you don’t need to do anything fancy – just ask them in a genuine and heartfelt way to help start your fundraising efforts on the right foot. You get extra bonuses for doing this first because:

  • Asking them first will give you practice for asking other people.
  • These people are likely to be more generous – so they’ll set the trend for donation size!

 

Another easy win? Maybe one of these top-tier supporters would be willing to MATCH your gifts! To double your money, identify someone who loves you, or the cause, very much. Ask them if they would consider matching your donations. You can tailor this matching incentive to the donor’s comfort level or interest. For example, the donor can:

  • Match up to a certain point (i.e. “will match up to $200”)
  • Match a certain type of gift (i.e. “will match donations of $25 and above”)
  • Match a certain group’s gift (i.e. Uncle Freddie will match only your cousin’s gifts; or your soccer team captain will match any player’s gift)
  • Match donations made on a certain day – as a way to incentivize giving on that day (“donate today and my great Uncle Freddie or Captain Doug will match your gift!”)

 

ASK, ASK, AND DON’T BE AFRAID TO ASK AGAIN

Now that you’ve exhausted your inside circle for donations, start thinking bigger. One of the biggest reasons people claim they don’t give is because, “No one asked me!” So don’t be nervous: just go out there and give someone the opportunity to give back.

To reach a lot of people: strategize by group. Make a list of everyone you possibly think could sponsor you and don’t leave anybody out! Group these people according to their connection to you.  Consider each group and what would motivate them the MOST to give. Example: Bring in some delicious treats or homemade goodies to class… and voila! Donut for a donation!

Here are a few other groups that you might consider reaching out to:

  • neighbors
  • school clubs
  • sports teams
  • your parents’ friends
  • church or religious group
  • your favorite restaurant owners
  • local services you use (your hair dresser; your cobbler)
  • your teachers/professors
  • anyone you come into contact with on a regular basis

To activate a lot of people, consider getting help from a trendsetter (your favorite teacher, the friend who always throws the best parties, etc.). Identify a champion in each group and ask them to help you strategize a more successful incentive program for gift-getting in that particular group. Why should you identify a personal champion?:

  • Most likely the champion will be more generous.
  • If a champion feels strongly for you, they may pull more people into the fold – people they’re close to, but you might not know well.

 

Letter Campaigns

TIPS FOR ASKING BY EMAIL OR LETTER

There are a lot of helpful resources online about writing fundraising letters, but you don’t have to tell us that you might be reluctant to reach out. We already know. You feel SUPER awkward writing a “give me money” plea. Fear not. Because we think you’re awesome, we want to get you started with the fundraising letter template below.

Just a quick note: while the template below is easy and already written, be sure to make it personal to you and why you believe in the cause – and more importantly, why your donor should believe the importance of cultural exchange and in YOU.

Perhaps you want to include a line or two about how you hope to grow from this experience, or mention you know they also traveled so you would relate on a personal level. Perhaps you want to include a line about their passion for the environment, or young people, or education. Tailor it to the recipient, and don’t be afraid to ask for a specific amount. If you need it – usually people will step up and give at that level.

GREENHEART TRAVEL FUNDRAISING LETTER – TEMPLATE

Dear _____ (or “hi”… obviously!)

You’ve always been a great supporter of [ME, YOUTH, COMMUNITY CAUSES, THE ENVIRONMENT… WHAT MAKES THEM TICK? WHAT’S THE CONNECTION? WHY ARE YOU WRITING THEM?]. Recently, I have been accepted into Greenheart Travel’s [VOLUNTEER, LANGUAGE IMMERSION, SUMMER EXCHANGE, TEACH, HIGH SCHOOL…etc.] program in XXXX for {PROGRAM LENGTH] starting on [DATE]! Established in 1985, Greenheart is a nonprofit cultural exchange organization dedicated to the promotion of cultural understanding, academic development, environmental consciousness, and world peace.

Through Greenheart Travel, I will be making the journey to XXXX to [ACHIEVE YOUR GOALS/MISSION]…I have already begun planning, researching and saving, but I will also need your help. To pay for my airfare and part of my program fee, I am looking to meet a fundraising goal of $2,000. I realize you are asked constantly to contribute to various causes on top of bills and everyday expenses, but you can make this dream a reality by contributing just $25. This is what you would spend on a night at the movies with popcorn and soda or a week’s worth of Starbuck coffee runs. Your donation would help me [ONE GOAL YOU HOPE TO ACHIEVE BY GOING ABROAD] and assist me in learning about a new culture.

Thank you for helping me reach my goals and I can’t wait to come back and share stories and pictures from my trip. With your donation you are making this dream a reality.

Thank you! Yours truly,

[YOU]

Start emailing your contacts, or better yet, press print and make your grandmother feels super special by getting something in the mail.

Maybe they won’t respond to one letter, but have faith. In a few days, a week, the next time you see them over lunch… follow up or ask again. Most nonprofits have a system with three or four solicitations per donor… obviously, you don’t have to do that, but definitely remember that it’s worth it to check back!

Say Thank You

SAY THANK YOU

Don’t overlook this crucial step!!!

This person is a rock star for donating to you, so make them feel that way. Send a thank you email, tag them on Facebook or send a handwritten note (this always impresses!). Once you’re aboard, send them a postcard and share your travel blog. Whatever you do, make sure these people know how important their gift is to you. Authentic thank you’s and real gratitude have amazing power. Use it wisely… and often.

Fundraising Ideas

 FUN IDEAS TO STEP UP YOUR FUNDRAISING

Google “fundraising ideas.” No, seriously, try it. You’ll get about 51 million results. There is no shortage of fun, crazy – and effective! – ways to get people excited to give. Here are a few of our favorites…

IT’S PARTY TIME!

To corner people to give (yeah, we said it!): BE THE HOST(ESS) WITH THE MOST(EST) Who can resist a good party? Brunch, dinner – whatever – get people to your home, share a meal and then BOOM: ask for it.

  • Not comfortable with the surprise attack? Openly host a party asking for a $5 donation at the door for your program. People like parties. They like you. They feel good giving. It’s a classic win-win-win.
  • Not comfortable with a party for money’s sake? Plan ahead and tag your party to an important milestone, holiday, house warming or event. It’s your birthday! Make a $20 donation in lieu of gifts. It’s the 4th of July! Come to my house for hotdogs and to support a good cause!

Remember to make it fun and personal to you and your guests. DIY spa party. Tag-football game. Whatever your friends enjoy: make it work for this amazing cause.

Other event options include:

  • Trivia contest night ($20 for a team to enter; split the pot for the winner)
  • Board game night (pay to play; split the pot for the winner)
  • BINGO night (pay to play; split the pot for the winner)

 

RAFFLE MANIA!

Organize a prize drawing for your friends, colleagues and family who donate during a certain time period. (“Donate this week and be entered into win…”) 50/50 raffles are always fun, but you can always spice it up by:

Raffle off a treat or service: Have a friend or family member donate someTHING – a real, tangible item that anyone would be thrilled to receive, personal to your friends and family (such as a jar of Mom’s treasured strawberry jam, or your best friend’s no-bake cookies). What do people get excited about in your friends group? Offer it up in a raffle and see who throws their glove in the ring!

Raffle off a prized service: Do you have a special skill or trait you can raffle off? Perhaps you organize closets strangely well, or can teach basic beginner skills of a foreign language. Perhaps you simply could be a photographer for a friend’s event. Raffle off a skill or service that you feel comfortable sharing to incentivize more people to donate.

 

GARAGE SALE / SWAP!

Be green and give back! Organize your friends or colleagues to bring in / donate their gently-used clothes. Organize either a “garage sale” sell-all situation; or have friends who donated pay a small fee to swap to their hearts’ contents. You’re helping them clean out their closets and find that book they always wanted to read! What’s not to love?

 

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES