Fundraising is a challenging project. The key to success is a combination of hard work, careful planning, persistence, and inspiration. The process, however, can be interesting and enjoyable, and you will be surprised at the warmth with which people often respond to your requests. Just keep your mind set on your goals, believe that you need and deserve the money, and don't be embarrassed to ask for money --- we realize that most of us are. The most important thing is to try! Here are some ideas that have worked for others:
Write a letter asking for sponsorship. Send it to your friends, family, co-workers, professors, etc. Ask for $5-$100 -- or whatever you think people can afford. You might write different letters for different recipients, and offer something in return. Photographs, a report back, a small craft, or simply a postcard are all appreciated. One traveler sent out only 15 letters and raised $300, mostly from people who didn't have much money.
Get organizational sponsors. Local social change organizations, civic, academic, and religious groups are likely to offer their support, especially in exchange for a presentation or article upon return. Your city's Chamber of Commerce should have a list of local civic groups. Approach organizations with a specific interest in the area you are to visit.
- If you're a student, approach the Latin American Studies department or student groups that are interested in the area. Ask them to sponsor you for $25-$100 in return for a report from your trip to a class or a meeting. Your university may have funds available for students or alumni.
- Approach research groups that work around issues you'll be learning about. Your local chapter of environmental or political groups may sponsor you if you agree to help with an event or a mailing upon your return. They may also be interested in a report-back for their newsletter, or photographs from the trip.
- If you are active in a religious group, find out if part of a collection could go to sponsor your trip.
- Contact research institutes, cultural centers, cafes, bookstores, and community centers that have presentations. Set up a report-back in return for support.
- Local media may also be interested in your trip. Contact newspapers, television and radio stations and offer to write an article or send a letter.
- Hold a fundraising event. You can do this yourself or with friends. Hold a party, a pot-luck, a walk-a-thon or bike-a-thon and ask friends for donations and pledges. Try to think of what resources you and your friends have and put them to use. Do you have friends in a band who would hold a concert and split the profits? Would your friends chip in a few extra dollars for a bar-be-que? Two travelers raised over $1,000 through a pot-luck dinner-- they charged $5-$10 donation for friends. One friend cooked, others played music, and another auctioned off old political posters. People tend to spend a little extra knowing their money is going to a good cause.
- Yard/garage sale
- Sell books or T-shirts-- We supply the books and shirts. You can sell them and keep part of the money.
- Part-time job-- Keep your eyes open and let your friends know, and you may be able to find one-time jobs that can pay $50-$100 dollars for a day's work.
In any of these cases, personal contact and accountability are key to the success of your fundraising efforts.
Brainstorm with friends and try anything that you think may work. Your enthusiasm and motivation will motivate others to help you. So keep a positive attitude and keep trying. Get creative, and let us know what works for you so that we can continue to expand our suggestion list.