How I raised $3,000 in 10 days to volunteer with CCS Cartago in Costa Rica

My Cross-Cultural Solutions trip to Costa Rica to volunteer at an orphanage last Thanksgiving was one of the best experiences of my life. I was immersed into Costa Rican culture, I met inspiring people from around the world, and I was able to contribute to the betterment of the orphanage and the children living there. But the impact the children and families had on me is far larger than the impact I could ever make.

Here is how I raised $3,000 in 10 days to make my volunteer abroad trip possible.

Fundraising for my trip was an an incredibly rewarding and enlightening experience.

It doesn't take a certain kind of person to be able to ask for donations. Asking friends, family and acquaintances for donations can be a humbling experience. And by offering a contribution to your program fee, they become a part of the effort. It’s about more than simply making a donation but rather working towards a larger cause. Don't be nervous to ask - all they have to say is "no" if they'd rather not donate. Yet, you'll find that people really care.

I tapped into my network via email and kept people updated as to where I was in the process on social media. I approached small businesses by simply walking in and asking for a few minutes for me to explain the cause and how they could help. Once they were aware of how their simple gestures could have large effects they were more than happy to be a part of the process. One local business right up the street from my school even offered discounts to students who donated to funding my volunteer abroad trip.

I also linked up with national businesses by focusing on their local shops. For example, Peet’s Coffee donated Costa Rican coffee for a daytime music show I held at Miami Ad School in San Francisco, where I was a student.

The memory of the show will stay with me forever. A famous guitarist from Spain volunteered to headline, and attendees donated an amount they felt appropriate. Allowing people to donate the amount they desired, as opposed to asking for a certain amount, helped them feel comfortable. One attendee of the show actually reached into her pocket and gave me the change she had saying, “I heard what you’re doing and I think it’s really great.” Looking around the room at everyone moved by the show - and the cause - made me realize how powerful and unifying sharing a common interest through a donation can be.

There’s a reason there’s no “u” in the word impossible. Sure we’ll get a “no” from time to time so it’s up to us to listen or push forward. Embracing the possibility of failure helps the momentum of the fundraising process and for me, the support of the community and CCS during the process inspired me to always appreciate individuals and the small moments we share together.

My volunteer experience taught me about cultural immersion. It showed me the importance of leaving opinions and your current lifestyle behind and giving 100% of your mind and body to service. Volunteering showed me the power of the intangible gestures we so often overlook in this fast paced world; the power of a smile, laugh and reaching out your hand to help.

I will forever be touched by this opportunity and recommend anyone interested to take a leap of faith and give it a try!

how I raised money to volunteer abroad in Costa Rica

CCS asked Nick if he could change one thing about his experience what would he do differently?

"If I could change one thing about the way I went about raising funds, it would be to involve a local high school. After a school politely declined my request for them to be involved, I offered to come speak to children about my experience once I returned. I wish that worked out, but maybe next time! I think the experience had is worth sharing with children so they’re aware of social issues abroad and how they could possibly add value in the future."

Thanks, Nick! We love your idea!

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saving money for your volunteer adventure


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