Advice on fundraising
1. Make contacts
Find some local contacts in the area where you want to work BEFORE you travel there. Ask them what the situation is like, what sort of materials are needed, if other volunteers are around etc. You’ll need this background information not only for yourself but also for potential donors and journalists. People are generally willing to help you with your efforts; journalists can write articles about your trip and donors can help you to make it happen. You just have to convince them that you are capable, trustworthy and well prepared. That’s why it's important to get as much local information as you can in advance.
2. Start blogging
Start your own weblog. It’s easy and free! A perfect way to keep your friends, the media and your donors informed about the progress you make with your work. Maintain it well. Try to write something new at least every ten days. Remember – it is not important to write long stories, just to keep the blog up to date.
3. “Snowball” a mail asking for support
Send an e-mail or letter to all the high-potential donors in your circle of friends. Inform them about your plans and tell them that you need money to make it happen. Don’t hesitate. Convince them that your project is much more worth supporting than the usual black hole of the major NGOs. Give them the address of your blog. Offer to send pictures before and after. Beg, beg, beg. Beg a little more. And then tell them to forward the mail to their personal friends who might also like to do some good.
4. Get in touch with the media
Send an e-mail and a letter to all the newspapers, TV-stations and radio-stations in your area, no matter if they are big or small. Tell them your ideas and progress so far and emphasise to them what’s different and special about your work. What is it that you want to do better than the others? How? Why? Make it sound really interesting. Especially with small local papers / stations. Personalize the story; “The young girl from our village…” Call them again. And again. Offer to give an interview on the open channel. Do not hesitate, your time will come.
5. Get in touch with local shops or companies
What you need is sponsors, what they need is advertising. Charity work is worth sponsoring and gives good feedback! Why not do a slideshow-evening about the country you want to work in at your local shop for outdoor-gear? Good way to grab some extra money – and extra publicity. And never forget, you NEED the publicity. Do good and talk about it, that’s the way it goes.
6. Get your financial stuff organised
If you were lucky on steps 1-5 (if you tried hard enough…;-) you should make sure that your cashflow is transparent. Ask your local bank if they can open a special account for your project. Find out what you have to do to make it valid for tax reductions. I managed to get my own account opened under the umbrella of a big NGO. It needed a couple of media contacts before that though. Remember to write down what you spent the money on - every single dollar and keep receipts if possible. There will often be suspicious people in the community who won't trust you; and you need to be accountable to your funders. If you know what it was spent on, you are safe. You can even use some of the money to cover your own expenses. People understand that – but they want to know about it.
7. Be accountable to your funders
Those who are funding you are often funded by other people and need to show where the money has gone. It's important to be able to provide this information. Keeping a thorough track record of your spending will also help you for future quotes and fundraising. Being thorough will also help prepare you for future paid or unpaid positions with an organisation.
8. Do a follow-up when you get back home
I announced a slideshow-evening on the radio after I got back. I showed some nice pictures, answered some questions, told some stories – and got lots of money for my second trip to Sri Lanka where I continued working for another four months. Again, do good and talk about it.
9. Sell yourself!
Don't be afraid to sell yourself and the work that you're doing. It can be a challenge, but one that will ultimately get you your goal of raising money. Don't be shy; show off all that you're done; convince people of the benefits of what you're planning on doing!
I hope this will help you to get started. For further information please don’t hesitate to contact me at info(at)srilankanot.de ! or by using the contact us link on this website.