Adventures in fundraising (Part 1)

Let me paint you a picture:

I’m a college student. I just spent $400 on books. I buy chicken flavored ramen in bulk when it’s on sale. I work part-time at a pizza place and have an unpaid internship. I’ve also got a pretty rockin’ social life. I’m a busy lady living on a modest budget. All this, and I’ve just decided to enroll with CCS for a four-week volunteer adventure of a lifetime in Tanzania.

That was me just before my junior year of college. I had made my initial deposit to CCS and was about to make my ultimate dream into a reality! The only question was how I’d save for the remainder of the fee. And then, like a pizza pie in the face, it hit me!

“If I can fundraise for my clubs and sports teams, why not fundraise for an international volunteer trip?”

Long story short: I fundraised, I volunteered in Tanzania, I rocked. Since it worked so well for me, I want to tell you about my letter-writing campaign, and show you how you can get one started for yourself.

  • Step 1: Make a list. Include every family member you can think of. Add family friends, High School teachers with whom you’re still in touch, and a few college profs. I hail from a little town where everyone knows everyone, so I also added some local business owners to the list. By the time my list was complete, I had over 170 prospective donors!

  • Step 2: Write your letters. You'll want to write two kinds of letters: one for family and friends, and one for businesses. I printed mine on bright yellow and green paper -- the colors of the Tanzanian flag. Spend some time figuring out how to put some emotion into the ask. International travel, volunteering in places that many of your donors have never been, and making a global impact are some pretty inspirational topics. Do yourself a favor and find a thoughtful and emotional way to address these big ideas.

  • Step 3: Make it personal. I hand wrote a short note to go with each letter. I asked about their kids, their dogs, or what books they were reading. It took a little longer, but the personal touch really spoke to people.

  • Step 4: Make it easy for folks to give! I included self-addressed, stamped envelopes with my letters. The only thing my sponsors had to do was write a check and drop it in the mailbox. My email campaign cost me about $100 and a few weeks collecting addresses, stuffing envelopes, and bandaging paper-cuts. A small price to pay.

Want to hear how much I raised? Check back soon for the riveting conclusion of my adventures in fundraising, and some final thoughts. Spoiler alert: My campaign was a huge success.

In the meantime, there’s nothing stopping you from enrolling with CCS and starting your list of potential donors today. Added bonus: it's holiday time -- the season of giving -- which makes now a great time of year to kick off a letter-writing campaign in support of an amazing cause.


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