(Disclosure, these are my thoughts and opinions, and not judgements of others...this blog is about my relationship to "Go Fund Me" campaigns and is not meant to offend anyone)
About twice a month I get either a Facebook notification or an email from someone I know asking for me to support their child’s dream of travelling abroad on a service trip. And about twice a month I find myself getting extremely annoyed and resentful. Now, don’t get me wrong, I think it’s wonderful that their child has an appetite for adventure and longs to travel to another part of the world and help those less fortunate. Here’s where I insert my “BUT”.
My child would love to practice social responsibility and how great it feels to help others who are truly in need (Not, like my iPhone cracked and I need a new screen, kind of need). The kind of need that my child has no idea yet exists in this world. Furthermore, she would love to experience the independence that travelling alone with a group of volunteers she has never met generates. Finally, I would give anything for my child to discover herself and her life’s purpose as a result of such an amazing opportunity.
I find it bold to ask other parents to help fund your child’s oversea adventure. Now, some may think differently and that’s their opinion, and this is my opinion. On a positive note, this feeling of annoyance ignited my own hunger to travel and experience another culture. One that would change me (and my daughter), maybe even change how we lived our lives. I wanted to experience the magic advertised in my friend’s pleas for funding. I wanted my daughter and me to have the opportunity to change the lives of others for the better. The only problem with this plan was that I didn’t have the funding. My oldest was away in college, and my middle daughter would be a college freshman over the next few months and most of our money was tied up in Higher Education tuition. I would not allow this minor fact to deter my plans. I got creative and figured out how to raise the money for my daughter and me to go on a service trip together without hitting up friends and family?
Here’s a few tips for raising money to fund a service trip without hitting people up with “Go Fund Me” campaigns
Tax Deduction: Look for a Travel Abroad Service Program that is a Non-Profit. For U.S. taxpayers, the program fee may be tax-deductible (many volunteers have even been able to deduct the cost of airfare!). Tax deductibility can be a significant benefit to you reducing your real out-of-pocket contributions, on average, between 25–33%
Offer your skills for donation: Are you an artist? A chef? A photographer? Offer to Paint pictures for friends who have inquired in the past. Ask your neighbors to give you a donation for preparing them a delicious dinner at home. Offer an exclusive Holiday card photoshoot for friends for a small donation to your volunteer trip abroad. Why it will work: Since it's a talent you already possess, all you're spending is time and you are providing a needed service!
Create an online store: Set up an etsy page and sell crafts you make or get a booth at a local festival or flea market and sell your items there. (My daughter did Henna at the local festivals)
Have a good old fashioned yard sale with a twist: Ask your friends and family to clean out their attics and garages, and donate any old furniture, clothing, toys, fashion jewelry etc. and organize a yard sale. Many people would love to get rid of old household items but just don’t have the time or energy to have their own sale. Be sure to let folks know that all proceeds will help fund your volunteer abroad adventure. You could also sell items on virtual yard sale sites/apps, craigslist or EBay.
Simply get a job and set a goal and work for it! Babysit, dog walk, house sit, bag groceries, scoop ice-cream, waitress. Create a travel fund account and work towards your goal!
In Lieu of: When planning way in advance, you could ask your family members to forgo Birthday and holiday gifts and contribute to your trip fund.
Having a goal to shoot for and achieving it through hard work and dedication creates more excitement for your adventure. My daughter and I were able to pool together our creatively earned resources and travel to Dharamsala, India on a service trip in May 2015 (just 1 month prior to her High School graduation).
Here’s what I learned.
The experience of a volunteer trip abroad will change you, Change the way you see other cultures, and change the way you live your life. The opportunity is more than just an opportunity, it’s a life changer! I no longer pass judgement on those who email me requests for funding for service trips for their children. I get it! (However, I still don’t contribute as I’m planning my next trip with daughter #3). The experience your child will have is worth the vulnerability of putting yourself out there, and asking for help. I personally choose being vulnerable by hosting yard sales, working flea markets and hocking my wares. Tomato, Tomato as they say. If my trip to India taught me anything, it was acceptance. Acceptance of others, acceptance of my own feelings and acceptance of everyone’s individual human experience. Getting annoyed or angry, is ok, it’s natural. But having the self-awareness to pay attention to those feeling of judgement and to transform them into a positive shift in perspective is transformative. I hope that my new perspective will start a ripple effect in finding wisdom and beauty in a way of life different from my own.
Megan Murphy, CPC, ELI-MP