Raising Money for Your Trip
You may be surprised at how many ways there are to raise money for your trip and for the projects that you are interested in. You can create a fundraising plan that will put you over the top. Click on the links below for implementation details about each fundraising idea:
- Fundraising Opportunities
- Letter Writing Campaigns
- Special Events & Parties
- Silent Auctions & Raffles
- School Clubs or Service-learning Offices
- Scholarships & Grants
- Local Business Sponsorships
- Religious, Service & Civic Organizations
- And more…
- Figure out what your trip will cost
- Start early
- List fundraising activities that you want to try
- Make a plan
- Create fundraising materials
- Stay organized
- Follow up
Click here to view a detailed explanation of each fundraising step listed above.
Letter Writing Campaigns
Writing letters is probably the easiest and fastest way to raise funds for your airfare and service fee. Don’t be shy! Many people admire others who are trying to make a difference and really want to help. Most appreciate the chance to be personally involved, to help you, and to help people in poverty. They will be proud of what you are doing and what they will be doing by funding you.
- Assemble a list of 100 names and addresses (e.g., family greeting card list, relatives and friends, work associates, neighbors, church and club membership lists, etc.
- Write a letter letting them know about your project, as well as who, why, and how you will be helping. You can send a photocopy of the letter if you wish, though personalizing it with their name at the top is always better.
- Include information about how your donors can get a tax deduction. To qualify, they should write checks to International Partners and ask them to send the checks to you.
- Keep track of the donation in your log. Make sure that your name is included on the memo line so that the donation is credited to you.
- When you have several checks you can send them with a copy of your log to: International Partners, 1320 Fenwick Lane, Suite 400, Silver Spring, Maryland 20910.
- You can also explain how they can donate by mail or by phone or online using their credit card with PayPal. By directing them to Donate they can find details about donating including a direct link to PayPal.
Sample forms to help in your letter writing campaign can be downloaded from the following list:
- Fundraising Letter Writing Checklist
- Sample Fundraising Letter
- Donor Form Return Card
- Fundraising Check Log
Special Events & Parties
Many delegates raise funds by hosting house parties or special events – either individually or as a group. For example, some groups have a fiesta with a Salvadoran theme where they invite friends to come and enjoy music, food and can get information about your trip. If there is a good size Salvadoran community in your area, local Salvadoran restaurants can be persuaded to donate food. Others may be able to provide live music, offer crafts for sale, or speak about personal experiences. If you have a fiesta, the following list may help you plan:
- Set a date
- Find a location
- Solicit donations of food, music, beverages and other items
- Invite speakers, musicians, dancers and any other entertainment
- Decide how much entry fees will cost and any other costs (will you sell food and drinks? Will you sell crafts, hold a silent auction, have a raffle?)
- Create a budget for non-donated expenses
- Develop a publicity campaign (to include invitations, tickets, posters, pieces in local newspapers, list serves)
- Decide how to decorate
- Hold you event
Sample documents that can help you plan and run your special events and parties can be downloaded from the following list:
You will find it easiest if you form committees to handle different parts of the event. Then, hold the event and have fun!!
Some delegates hold house parties where they explain their trip and ask for donations. If you or a friend has a talent, such as playing a musical instrument, you can make it a home concert. If you or someone you know has been on a previous trip, ask them to speak briefly about their experience and what it meant to them and pass around some pictures. Be creative, plan ahead, and have fun!
Silent Auctions & Raffles
Silent auctions and raffles are also effective ways to raise funds. These activities involve getting donations of items and services. In a silent auction, other people bid on each item and the highest bidder wins. For a raffle, you sell tickets offering the opportunity to win an item if their ticket is drawn. Then you do a drawing to see who wins it. The steps below should get you started:
- Figure out where and how you are going to do the auction. Ideas include a parties or fiestas, events at school or clubs.
- Get donations of items or services – the more interesting, helpful, or fun, the more you are likely to earn. Examples of popular offerings include:
- Lessons — computer skills, music, dance, cooking, yoga
- Gift certificates — from restaurants, specialty stores or business
- Professional services — such as accounting, car maintenance, legal services, handyman
- Tickets — for performances, sports events, movies
- Services — such as pet sitting, dog walking, party planning, lawn work, organizing
- Weekend at your beach or mountain house
- Art work, pottery, crafts
Approach potential donors of such items by explaining the purpose of your auction and how they can help. Click here for a sample silent auction invitation.
- Figure out necessary systems – example for a silent auction, figure out a way to keep track of bids on items, determine winners, and making sure that all items are paid for and distributed.
- Annouce you winners.
School Clubs or Service-learning Offices
Check with school administrators and alumni groups to find out if they allocate funds to individuals or clubs that are doing service projects. If other students at your school also want to participate on the delegation, you may be able to form a club or chapter and officially raise money for your project at school. Find out what you have to do to get permission and then have fun working together.
Scholarships & Grants
You can check with your school’s administration or service learning office to see if scholarships are available for service learning activities. Some universities also have special programs to support service learning. And, although local businesses are your best bet for support, large companies sometimes have programs that promote social responsibility and many are interested in supporting local youth. And, if you check with Human Resources at your place of employment, they may have matching grant programs.
Some nonprofit organizations promote youth participation and service learning and offer grant support for activities. Check out www.ysa.org and www.servenet.org for grant opportunities listed by Youth Service America to see if any of them apply to you.
Local Business Sponsorships
Many businesses are committed to supporting the community and will sometimes make donations or help you raise funds. You are most likely to have success if you solicit donations from local businesses and businesses where you or someone you know well has a relationship. To do this:
- Make a list of businesses (e.g., restaurants, shops, etc) that you frequent regularly.
- Create a flyer or polite letter, explaining what you are doing and what you need.
- Bring a neat, professional looking budget.
- Think of a specific amount you want (for example: $100) and ask if they can help you.
- If you are asking for matching contributions, explain what you are doing to earn money.
- Set a goal and share it with them: “To meet my goal, I need ten businesses to contribute $100. I have five now, so I only need five more.”
- Tell them how they can get a tax deduction for their donation.
There are also other ways to work with local businesses for example some restaurants are willing to donate a small percentage of the proceeds on one night (or one night a week for a month). Others might put a special box for change near their cash register. Others might be willing to put a poster in their window or leave flyers to advertise an event. And, if your community has a large number of immigrants from Central America, don’t overlook Salvadoran restaurants and vendors as a possible source of help. Find out what they would like to do and how they would like to be acknowledged.
Religious, Service & Civic Organizations
Many delegates have found donations by approaching their local place of worship. Such groups often have service and social justice missions and your participation may fit well. Some will permit some portion of a Sunday collection to be donated to a project or allow you to hold a bake sale or car wash on their premises. Others might let you place an appeal in their monthly newsletter or make an appeal after a service. Similarly, local Rotary, Kiwanis and other civic clubs and fraternal organizations are sometimes willing to sponsor delegates or provide a “matching grant” to help you. In all these cases, you should:
- Have a clear write-up about what you want to do, a budget, and a goal.
- Offer to make a presentation when you return.
- Offer to write a letter for their newsletter.
There are a seemingly endless number of other activities that can also generate some funds. Car washes, pizza sales, bake sales and other similar activities can sometimes raise a little money. Run a marathon and ask friends and family to donate money for each mile you run. The possibilities are only limited by your creativity, time, and interests. Use all of them as opportunities to explain what you are doing and why. You will likely be surprised at how much help you can find.