How I Raised $1500 in 30 Days By: Kinsey Preece

Raising the funds is one of the most rewarding and ambitious undertakings for a humanitarian trip.  In 30 days I raised $1500 toward my YMAD expedition to India this summer. The total money raised was $3900 covering the hard cost of the trip itself, and funds earmarked for improving the schools and school supplies etc. for the kids.  It will also enable me to dedicate two weeks of my service while there. The first deadline came quickly, and each of the Denver YMAD teens had only one month to raise the first half. There were many triumphs as well as tears along the way and I would like to share my process with you.

1) I could not do it alone. This was a lesson I had to learn early on. Crowdfunding is a community effort and it takes a lot of collaboration to get it right. To me, this meant talking to everyone I know about my trip. Spreading the word not only about the money I was trying to raise, but the causes you I am passionate about supporting was crucial. My first fundraising effort was to sell twenty dollar t-shirts with our team logo on the back. I first reached out via text message to roughly 70 people asking them to buy one. I only ended up selling around 20 of the shirts but this was an effective way to let members of my community know that I was raising money. Even if you don’t think someone will want to buy what you are selling, odds are they will still want to contribute to your cause. This was an effective way to kick off my fundraising because it spread the word that I was going to be working the next few months to make the $1500.

2) Donation request letters. This was low-budget and minimal risk. Early on I wrote letters to my family and friends asking for a donation of any amount. The loved ones I mailed became my first backers. Although the results were not instant or all at once I received a large sum of my money as a return on my letters. I found that early traction was a key predictor in success and once I had money from selling t-shirts and sending letters I was able to gain traction for the rest of my efforts. This is where it was important for me to build a following and get the members of my community aware.

3) Determined what would be successful for me. Once I secured the first half of my money I decided to get more creative in my fundraising efforts. There was a certain fundraiser where men in the group would aerate lawns for money. I knew that for me a 115 pound 5’ 7’’ girl with no upper or lower body strength I may not be able to aerate a lawn. I sure could sell the service though! Looking at situations and figuring out how I fit and what I could do was a key part of my fundraising efforts. I have always loved reading and writing so I put an ad on craigslist and started to tutor English as a second language at a Starbucks every week for awhile. I sold home-made goods such as cookies and bath bombs. I made art and sold some of my paintings and dream catchers. I love kids so I accepted every babysitting job offered to me that month I was raising money. This was so rewarding for me to see what I am capable of when I utilize my talent to achieve a greater goal.

4) Estimate and plan accordingly. Choosing campaign goals and breaking it down helped me stay motivated and see where I was in relation to the final goal. For me I broke it down into daily and weekly goals, then I could see where I should be putting my efforts. I calculated what I needed to raise and what my time span was. I knew if some days I wouldn’t be able to do much I needed to put more effort into the days that I could. Simple math can save a lot of heartache.

5) Fundraising can be fun. I learned that it did not have to feel hard, draining or stressful. I really enjoyed the opportunities I had and the new ways to challenge myself.  I built new relationships and strengthened existing ones, and even got to know myself a little bit better. The hard work and late nights paid off in the end knowing that because of my fundraising I am one step closer to being in India and changing lives.

Raising the funds needed to go on a humanitarian trip was, to say the least, a dream come true. It took planning and skill but it is possible!