Not many people have the funds available to just book and pay for their volunteering adventure straight off, and one of the most often asked questions we get is How can I afford to pay?
Further down you will see our traditional advice for fundraising. However, many of our volunteers now choose to use fundraising/crowdfunding sites like "GoFundMe" - which really make the whole process really simple and can be set up and raising funds for you with a few clicks.*
IF YOU DON'T ASK, YOU DON'T GET
The object of fundraising is to obtain/earn sufficient money to enable you to travel
to a different culture and gain a better understanding of different ethnic groups
and how they live, at the same time helping underprivileged children or doing your
bit towards conservation.
So, when dealing with people who’re hopefully going to fund you, emphasise the good
you’ll be doing while on your placement and the benefit you’ll derive from your
placement in your future life/career. Nobody’s going to give you money to travel
to some faraway contry to … lie on the beach! So shout about the good results your
project will achieve – it could get you a long way!!
WHERE TO START?
We can’t tell you to "go to so-and-so and they’ll give you the money", but we can
give you lots of ideas on how to earn or raise funds. It’s then up to you as to
how determined you are and how hard you’re prepared to work. There are many things
you can do to raise funds for your trip, including:
- Charities and Charitable Trusts
- Travellers Tips
- Local Businesses
- Fundraising Events You Can Do
- Book Ahead, Work Hard & Save Up!
- Suggestions: What Other Volunteers Have Done to Raise Money
PUBLICITY - THE MORE YOU GET, THE BETTER!
► Local Newspapers
Your small local paper is often on the hunt for stories with a local interest. Contact
them – it’s great publicity for you and a great story for them! You’ll be able to
shout about the fantastic things you’ll be doing on your placement, which the local
community will love to hear about! Don’t forget to ask to include contact information
and details of how people can sponsor you – you never know how many people will
read the article and chip in to the cause!
Do your research and then contact magazines that may be interested in sponsoring
you / advertising for you. If you’re a keen writer, you could suggest writing some
small articles for the Magazine in return for sponsorship. For example, if you’re
teaching Drama or Arts, you could contact a local Arts & Crafts Magazine and offer
to write an article about your placement in return for sponsorship and publicity.
► Local Radio Stations
They're always on the look-out for interesting local stories too! A presenter may
want to have you as a guest on his show to talk about what you’re hoping to do –
and then another interview on your return about what it was like in the country
you volunteered in. The station may not sponsor you themselves but many of our volunteers
have been invited to talk about their upcoming adventure, and many have had the
presenter slip in a mention about your need for sponsorship and a contact email
or telephone number.
Start a blog and and tell people what you’re doing! Gina volunteered in Knysna with
Travellers and started a blog to which people could donate – she raised $5000! (about
£3,125). Since returning from her placement, she’s been raising funds to send to
the Centre where she did her project.
► Social Networks
It's a quick and easy way to tell people what you’re up to! Tell your friends on
Facebook, Twitter or any other social network you’re a member of! Set up a Paypal
account and ask people for donations – if each of your Facebook friends donated
£1 to £5, how much would you raise?!
CHARITIES AND CHARITABLE TRUSTS
Local Funds and Charities will sometimes sponsor people to either get involved with
projects that improve the lives of less developed communities, or to help you develop
as a person through an activity that will benefit others too.
► UK SPECIFICALLY: In your local library there should be a book called ‘Directory
of Grant Making Trusts’ – it is usually reference only as it is very expensive (£120).
It is a comprehensive list of all the local grant making trusts and charities in
the UK and details who is eligible to apply. It also tells you how to apply to each
of the different charities.
Remember each Library in the UK has an online catalogue, so check the book is stocked
in your local library before visiting - you can request books if they are unavailable
at your most local library (they’ll transfer them from another library for you!)
When applying to charities and trusts, only apply to relevant ones that you are eligible
for, otherwise you’ll be wasting time and energy.
► WORLDWIDE: You can apply to charities and trusts in your local area. Some countries
will have an equivalent book to ‘Directory of Grant Making Trusts’ (see above).
For example, in the USA there is a book of the same name (Travellers is unable to
verify its content, though.)
You may also find it helpful to ask your local government if they have a list of
Charities or Trusts that give grants. If they don’t have such a list, they may
be able to tell you who to contact in order to get one.
If you are between the ages of 17 – 24 you should also ask around at school or university
as a lot of teachers are involved with charitable trusts themselves, or may be able
to advise you where to turn.
If you’re not between the ages of 17-24 it doesn’t mean that you won't be eligible
for this type of sponsorship, it may just be harder to find appropriate trusts and
charities to write to.
Some of you will be lucky and raise enough cash very quickly - others may find it
harder. You must remember that not every letter you send will be successful, but
don’t give up hope. One volunteer wrote 40 letters and only got 6 replies ... but
she raised over £750 from those 6 replies!
► Example: If you’re going to Sri Lanka to teach football to poor kids, contact a
Sports foundation because, let’s face it, what you’ll be doing is pretty unique.
You could mention that the first few Travellers volunteers who went to coach football
in Sri Lanka ended their project by organising an Inter-School football match for
a “Volunteers Trophy” (which they bought at a local store). As a result, Travellers
now sponsors an annual event at the schools. The children's standard of football
improved dramatically and so did their confidence. Our volunteers teach the students
a sport – and valuable life skills too.
That sort of on-going help resulting from a few people doing a voluntary placement
together and teaching football is pretty impressive - and there are many charities
out there who would view your sponsorship favourably.
► Other Useful UK Publications:
- The Directory of Grant Making Trusts
- The Directory of Smaller Grant Making Trusts
- The Educational Grants Directory
- The Guide to UK Company Giving
- Hollis Sponsorship & Donations Year Book
- The Complete Fundraising Handbook
- The Complete Guide to Fundraising
REMEMBER: The old cliché of “If you don’t ask, you won’t get” is true. If you do
ask, you may get!!
BUSINESSES AND COMPANIES
Some local businesses and companies have a 'Charity Budget' that they must use up
every year. If you are lucky you may persuade them to use some of this budget towards
- Ask around – friends of friends might work for companies like this. It’s always
good to have insider knowledge about whether companies are likely to contribute
- Keep it short! Make sure that your letter to the company is informative but concise.
If they have to spend a lot of time reading exactly what you want, they might not
get to the end of the letter! Emphasise the good that you’re doing and the personal
development that will be achieved.
- If possible apply to relevant organisations – i.e. if you’re taking part in a law
placement in Sri Lanka, write to the local law firms in your town.
- Tell them what you will do for them, i.e. mention the company's kind contribution
in any blogs, social network pages, or stories that you submit to newspapers or
- Offer to let them have a report on your placement so that they can see what you've
been able to achieve while you were there as a result of their generosity.
Some companies may only donate if they can send the donation directly to us – this
is not a problem, we will deduct the donated amount from the total cost of your
There are some fantastic companies and educational trusts that offer scholarships
to deserving volunteers. Ask around and check publications in your library for more
information about schemes in your area.
If you look hard enough you'll find some great international schemes as well. For example GoOverseas
offers scholarships of US$1000 to 'anyone participating in a volunteer program'
- regardless of nationality or age. For more details on their scholarship scheme
please click here.
FUNDRAISING EVENTS YOU CAN DO
Organising a fundraising event isn't as scary as it sounds! It can be as simple
as organising a barbeque for your friends and charging £10 per person entry – provide
food and people will come, but you’ll still make a good profit towards your project!
Below is a list of some suggested events, it’s far from comprehensive, but should
Remember: some of the activities listed below require permission from the appropriate authorities
– please ensure you comply with the law.
- A cake sale at school / work – ask your friends or colleagues to donate cakes for
the event and sell them to make a profit.
- Organise a car boot sale – or ask one of the local car boot sales to donate their
profits to your cause one day.
- Take part in a car boot sale – if you (or your parents) have lots of junk around,
get down to your local car boot sale and sell it – remember every penny you fundraise
- Dress up and collect on the street – make sure you speak to your local authority
first and get their permission.
- Do something sponsored – shave your head, run a marathon, bathe in baked beans etc…
- Organise an auction or raffle in your local town. Ask local businesses to supply
goods (i.e. a free haircut, a voucher for a meal in a restaurant) and either auction
the prizes for charity, or raffle them off! If you decide to auction, you must find
a public place to hold the auction – your friends could sell tea and cakes for added
- If you’re musically minded, approach your local shopping centre management and ask
if you can busk at a popular time of the week – explain it’s for a good cause and
advertise this as you busk.
- Throw a party / event – charge an entrance fee. When people know it’s for a charitable
cause they’re more likely to invite their friends and attend. If you’re unable to
host the event at home, ask your local school / town hall if you can use their facilities
– you’ll still have to pay the deposit but it should be returned to you. Remember
to emphasise that it’s for a good cause and they may waive their usual fee. Make
sure everyone pays for their ticket up front!!
- Local Fairs: If you live out in the sticks there are always summer fairs and local
fairs where they have tombola’s, cakes stalls, guess the weight of 6 bicycles, 2
cricket bats and little Johnny. Well, think of something you could do, a stall you
could run, perhaps busking your way around the fair, a service you could offer,
like dressing up as Captain Kirk or Spiderman and have a friend who can take instant
photos – then persuade Johnny’s mother to cough up £2 for a souvenir photo of Johnny
with his hero!!!
- Make the most of your friends and relatives!!! In your Christmas Cards (or Holiday
Cards) this year add in a little note explaining what you’re doing and how they
can help you, if they wish to donate!
- Set up your own weekend CAR WASHING business – ask some of your friends to lend
a helping hand and get them busy with sponges. You’ll soon build up a regular clientele!
If you don’t like the idea – why not wash windows, that’s a job no one wants to
do and you’ll raise money very quickly!
BOOK AHEAD, WORK HARD & SAVE UP!
Well there is the plain old fashioned way! People book projects with Travellers 6
months, 1, 2, even 3 years ahead (our orang-utans in Malaysia have appointments
well into the future) Payment for your project is not due until 3 months prior to
your departure with just the deposit of £190.00 required upfront to secure your
place. Book a project for next year giving yourself 12 months to save up and set
up a direct debit into a different account to help you put aside a little each month.
Let’s take an example, one hundred pounds a month for 12 months - plus the deposit
you’ve already paid - and you have just under £1400. Enough for a return flight
and a months project!
Add to this any kind relations or friends who might want to contribute to your fund
over the year for your birthday or Christmas say (£10/$10 here and there adds up
and they can pay directly into your project via our payment login button on the
homepage) and you’re looking at even more! With this additional money, you can bring
the date of your trip forward, or buy some fancy travelling kit, or add an add-on
project, or extend your trip by a week or month or include some independent travel
If £100 a month is too much, book your trip for 18 months ahead and put aside £70
a month (that’s just £17 a week). Or maybe you can budget for more if you can making
more drastic changes such as reducing your rent costs or taking on a temporary second
job for example.
I wanted to travel so much that
I moved back in with my mum after living on my own for 3 years. I got a full-time
temp job doing admin in an office, on top of this I took on a local bar job some
evenings and weekends. I also fitted in some swimming teaching lessons I was qualified
to do on Sundays. All this work meant I didn’t have time to go out anyway but I
chose to stay in or opted for free fun with friends and always the ‘take your own’
option! I didn’t go shopping at all and made minor everyday changes such as making
my lunches at home and taking coffee in a flask saving me £10+everyday. I sold my
clapped out fiesta and a few bits on eBay. You know what, within 9 months I was
on that plane to Sri Lanka and I didn’t return for 14 months, a browner, satisfied
and more accomplished version of myself. I now know how to budget when I want something
and it was the first of many great lessons travelling gave me. You can create whatever
you want - even when you start with nothing.
Letitia Beisly, elephant orphanage volunteer.
If cost is a huge option and you want to go soon, pick a cheap project for 2 weeks
in a destination that is not expensive to get to. For example 2 weeks in Morocco
including a return Ryan Air flight from the UK and you’re looking at around £750
- internal travel, food and accommodation included! Start with something you can
afford and see a destination you would never have dreamt you would visit. All this
is building your confidence and life experience and maybe next time you can commit
to a longer project or a further away destination.
Part of the process is figuring out how to fund this experience. That’s part of what
makes it so rewarding once you get there, as well as particularly impressive to
employers who can see you’re able to take initiative, source funds and invest in
yourself wisely. Great skills to have. If you’re not one of those to be offered
this opportunity on a plate, don’t worry, you’re in the majority. We speak from
personal experience when we say trust us, you’ll enjoy each moment even more once
you do get there!
I applied in October for the following
March for a 3 month placement in Knysna. At the time I was renting student accommodation
and earning minimal wage on my industrial placement year at Uni. I immediately took
on an evening job waiting in a restaurant and worked all the shifts they gave me
(including Christmas Day – great tips!). My parents bought my flight as a joint
birthday/Christmas present and within 5 months I had the funds I needed, plus enough
to stay for an extra month for some independent travel around South Africa. Since
this placement with Travellers I’ve visited a further 27 countries!
Andrew Kemp, design-tech volunteer teacher.
SUGGESTIONS: WHAT OTHER VOLUNTEERS
HAVE DONE TO RAISE MONEY SUCCESSFULLY
Remember, you will have to WORK HARD – it doesn’t come easy (usually), but you’ll
feel that your efforts were all well worth it when you’re trekking through the jungle
in Borneo or teaching English in Brazil!
- Planting trees for the local district council – raised £400
- Organised school friends on a sponsored litter collection – raised £1,000
- Collecting bottles from factories – raised £240
- Designed a conservation oriented tea towel and had them printed. Cost £1.20, sold
for £3.00 – Profited to the tune of £450
- Lots of car boot sales – raising between £30 and £600 – many people advertise for
junk in local papers and then sell it at car boot sales
- Coffee morning cake sales in the local Church Hall
- Organised car boot sale in school grounds and charged £5.00 per car to sellers.
- Organised a Ceilidh – raised £600
- Organised a black-tie Rhythm-&-Blues Ball – raised £2,400
- Champagne Party – appealed to a local brewery who donated a case of champagne –
some bottles used as prizes for raffles, others were sold – raised £210
- Wine and cheese party – “Guess the Cheese” – asked for donations.
- Halloween Parties
- Race nights in the Pub – and lots of Pub Quizzes with donated prizes and entry fee
- Raffles – wrote to companies for prizes and received things like Holiday for two,
Telephones, Jewellery, Haversacks, Beauty vouchers. Sold 5,000 tickets, 20p each
– raised £950.
- Skittles evening in local Working Men’s Club. – raised £200
- Porridge sit-in (sponsored, and money raised from passers-by – raised £330 from
passers-by and £1,320 from sponsorship
- One girl spent a day on a building site in fancy dress (very scantily clad! – embarrassing
… but she raised £300 and lots of publicity.
- Read an excellent case study by a group that raised the funds to work with township
schools in South Africa
- Sponsored silence (made a lot of people very happy!)
- Spaghetti soak in a bath in the centre of town – raised £115 from passers-by and
- Parachute jump – lots of people have done these – raising anything up to £1,500
- Marathon mountain trek – climbed 15 mountains in 3 days – raised £600
- Walked coast to coast across Wales – raised £1,600
- Lots of mountain climbing events – sponsored – raising anything up to £1,000
- Three-legged walk in fancy dress – raised £1,650 plus £200 from other people who
- 26-mile blindfold walk – raised £1,100. Sent out lots of letters asking for sponsorship.
- Fancy dress canoe trip – raised £1,000, including sponsorship from Rotary and various
- Sponsored swim – raised £800
- One volunteer organised a 3-day fashion show that included food, raffles and prizes
and raised a lot of money. The models were friends of hers. Of course, to do something
on a grand scale like this, you need some money up front (borrowed and repaid after
the event?) up front to pay for a facility, food, prizes (although you could ask
local companies to donate prizes) etc. and this may not be practical. You’ll also
need a lot of publicity from local radio and in your local newspapers.
- 24-hour pony ride – complicated by having to change horses regularly. Post Office
donated postage for sponsorship appeal letters. – Raised sufficient money to cover
her entire placement in one go.
- 24-hour trampoline jumping
- London Marathon – raised £1,500 through sponsorship.
- Lots of sponsored bike rides – raising anything from small amounts up to £1,600
- Sponsored bike ride London to Monte Carlo
- Sponsored Diet– sponsored per lb of weigh lost. 60 people joined in the initial
diet, 30 returned 8 weeks later. Result? 30 happy slimmer people and £1,000 raised.
Clever catchwords in resulting newspaper coverage were “The Weigh to do it” and
“Pounds for pounds”.
- Sponsored silence for 1 hour in a pub on campus – raised £75 in the hour.
- Fashion show – raised £600
- International evening held in school hall – about 80 people attended – everyone
who attended brought one international dish for the refreshments AND paid £2.50
- Writing begging letters – lots of people have done this – general advice is write
to companies, your old school, friends and family, local religious organisation
or other local associations. Success is more forthcoming if you explain that your
placement will benefit not only to yourself, but also some disadvantaged people,
communities or a conservation project.
How one young volunteer raised over £1,000
"For fundraising, firstly I applied to the school PTA and board of governors, after
writing a letter I got a cheque for £100. I think it helped that I have done loads
of things around the school/college, like Drama and the student council so I'm pretty
well known. I also wrote to the local Rotary club, who are donating £50. I was
unsuccessful with groups such as the Lions and the Conservative club. I've had a
jumble sale, which raised £130 and we've got enough stuff left to have another one.
I went through our loft and study and sorted out our books. I managed to sell all
my old revision guides and school books back to school for £50. A family friend,
and ex-English teacher was moving house and gave me lots of English books, which
I sold to school for £25. I sorted out the garage and shed and sold things like
old bikes and furniture left over from our previous house in the local paper, which
raised lots of money.
At the moment I am doing a Calendar draw, where each date on the calendar is worth
£1. Each participant then pays a pound to 'buy' a day of the year - usually a birthday.
When the calendar is full, I'll cut up the dates and draw them out of a hat. Lots
of prizes have been donated by local businesses, such as hairdressers. I didn't
receive any help from large businesses like banks and clothes shops. So now I've
got just over £1000." Lara.
- Look locally – people are more willing to fund local people.
- Ask around– you may well hear about a local trust / memorial fund that doesn’t advertise
– if not many people hear about they may not make donations / approve sponsorship
each year. Take advantage of this and write to them!
- Remember many religious organisations, educational establishments and town councils
have bursary / award schemes. Past volunteers of school leaver age from the UK have
successfully applied to the BFSS (British & Foreign School Society.). This page
on their website may also be useful: http://www.bfss.org.uk/grants_subsidiary.shtml
- Focus on matching interest and criteria - don't waste time randomly hitting everyone;
target companies or people more likely to have an interest in what you’re doing.
They will appreciate the fact that you’re going to them specifically (which implies
you have a knowledge of them) rather than the thought that you’re going to anybody
and everybody and just hoping to get lucky.
- Remember charitable organisations such as Rotary Clubs, Lions Clubs and Roundtable
Clubs – All of these organisations donate money to local people. These associations’
members are usually local business people who socialise together and have lots of
business contacts. If they can’t help you, maybe they know someone who can!
- Bear in mind you might need to do something for the donation – Rotary clubs in particular
may stipulate that you must give a short talk about your experiences on your return
– we can vouch that our placements are worth 5-10 minutes of your time!
- Be professional with your approach.
PRACTICALITIES OF FUNDRAISING - TRAVELLERS
- You may wish to set up a separate bank account for your Voluntary Placement Fund
– you'll be motivated to raise more for your placement when you see it increase!
- Make sure your contact details are professional. E.g. if your email address is email@example.com
... CHANGE IT! You won’t impress your potential sponsor and your letter may well
just go straight in the bin.
- Be organised!
- If you’re writing to companies and charitable trusts. Keep your letter concise –
one page, preferably 2-4 short paragraphs maximum. They can ask you for more information
if they’re interested! Make sure you mention that you’d be delighted to provide
more information / give them a talk or presentation in person if required. (in 9
out of 10 cases you won’t actually have to do this!)
- Stick to the guidelines the charity / trust supply – i.e if they ask for an application
form, make sure it’s included, if they ask for a proposal, write one (we can give
you more help with this if you wish – just ask!)
- ALWAYS BE TOTALLY HONEST – If they catch you out on a contradiction, you probably
won’t even know it – they’ll just refuse you, whether you’re deserving or not.
- Ring around all the Organisations that you intend approaching and ask for the name
of the person you should address your letter to. Nobody likes mail addressed to
“Dear Occupier” – the personal touch is the ONLY way to go! If you’re pushed and
they want to know what it is all about before you send it, ensure you’re speaking
to the relevant person first – and then be brief. If they want to know more, they’ll
ask you. Make sure you have all the information to hand!
- Follow up your application with a telephone call to the relevant person. Allow at
least two days for the post to arrive on their desk and for them to read your letter.
If you ring too soon, your call will be ineffective because they won’t know what
you’re talking about. If you leave it too long, any enthusiasm they may have had
for your letter may have waned – or they may just have forgotten what they had read!
Don’t leave a message on voice mail – rather try again later. Have a notebook in
front of you and make notes about the conversation.
You can print this page or you can download this Document in .pdf format
DON’T FORGET: Once you have applied, we can provide you with a letter of support
stating that you’re taking part in one of our placements! We can also help you with
examples of the type of letter to write when approaching institutions for funds.
GOOD LUCK !
We hope you raise lots of money and that you join us soon - you'll love it!
**Travelquest Ltd Trading as Travellers Worldwide are in no way connected or affiliated with "GoFundMe" (or any other fundraising site) and cannot accept liability or claims in connection with these sites. You should research any such site thoroughly before deciding and committing to raise funds via this route.
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