Fundraising Guide

  • Getting Started

    While finding the funds for your travel costs, program deposit and fee requires commitment and planning, you’ve already taken a huge leap in the right direction. Now, keep your energy high, get excited, and get going!

    Watch the experience of a Chicago-based school who successfully raised $40,000 for their group to volunteer in Costa Rica!

  • Asking for Donations

    Start with Easy Wins

    Make a quick list of the top people in your life who care about you and your success and are always there to help you achieve your goals. Your mom, dad, brother, sister, grandparents, friends, etc. Give them a call and ask them in a genuine and heartfelt way to help start your fundraising efforts on the right foot. You get extra bonuses for doing this first because:

    • Asking them first will give you practice for asking other people.
    • These people are likely to be more generous.

    Another easy win? Maybe one of these top-tier supporters would be willing to MATCH your gifts! To double your money, identify someone who loves you, or the cause, very much. Ask them if they would consider matching your donations. You can tailor this matching incentive to the donor’s comfort level or interest. For example, the donor can:

    • Match up to a certain point (i.e. “will match up to $200”)
    • Match a certain type of gift (i.e. “will match donations of $25 and above”)
    • Match a certain group’s gift (i.e. Uncle Freddie will match only your cousin’s gifts; or your soccer team captain will match any player’s gift)
    • Match donations made on a certain day – as a way to incentivize giving on that day (“donate today and my great Uncle Freddie or Captain Doug will match your gift!”)

    Ask, Ask, Ask! 

    One of the biggest reasons people claim they don’t give is because, “No one asked me!” So don’t be nervous: just go out there and give someone the opportunity to give back. As you get more comfortable asking for money, you will start to hone your pitch.

    Tips to Perfect Your Pitch:

    1. Know your audience. Are you speaking to a friend, a professor, a family member or a business professional? Remember to focus on what would interest your audience!
    2. Be enthusiastic. Share why you are excited about traveling abroad. Involve your audience in your pitch by asking questions about your destination country. See what they know already! Then tell them some more fun facts.
    3. Keep it Short. Don’t overwhelm with too much information at once. Instead share a short overview, some photos, and explain how they can get involved in supporting you in this amazing opportunity.
    4. Follow up. Email your new contacts in less than week, reminding them how they know you, thanking them for their time and support and providing more information on how they can help support your fundraising efforts.

    To reach a lot of people: strategize by group. Make a list of everyone you possibly think could sponsor you and don’t leave anybody out! Group these people according to their connection to you.  Consider each group and what would motivate them the MOST to give. Example: Bring in some delicious treats or homemade goodies to class… and voila! Donut for a donation!

    Here are a few other groups that you might consider reaching out to:

    • Neighbors
    • School clubs
    • Sports teams
    • Your parents’ friends
    • Church or religious group
    • Your favorite restaurant owners
    • Local services you use (your hair dresser; your cobbler)
    • Your teachers/professors
    • Anyone you come into contact with on a regular basis

    To activate a lot of people, consider getting help from a trendsetter (your favorite teacher, the friend who always throws the best parties, etc.). Identify a leader in each group and ask them to help you strategize a more successful incentive program for gift-getting in that particular group.

  • Letter Campaigns

    Tips for Asking by Email or Letter

    We already know it’s SUPER awkward writing a “give me money” plea. Fear not. We think you’re awesome, we want to get you started with the fundraising letter template below.

    Just a quick note: while the template below is easy and already written, be sure to make it personal to you and why you believe in the cause – and more importantly, why your donor should believe the importance of cultural exchange and in YOU.

    Perhaps you want to include a line or two about how you hope to grow from this experience or mention you know they also traveled so you would relate on a personal level. Perhaps you want to include a line about their passion for the environment, or young people, or education. Tailor it to the recipient, and don’t be afraid to ask for a specific amount. If you need it – usually people will step up and give at that level.


    Dear _____ (or “Hi”)

    You’ve always been a great supporter of [ME, YOUTH, COMMUNITY CAUSES, THE ENVIRONMENT-WHAT’S THE CONNECTION? WHY ARE YOU WRITING THEM?]. Recently, I have been accepted into Greenheart Travel’s [PROGRAM] in [COUNTRY] for [LENGTH] starting on [DATE].

    Established in 1985, Greenheart is a nonprofit cultural exchange organization dedicated to the promotion of cultural understanding, academic development, environmental consciousness, and world peace.

    Through Greenheart Travel, I will be making the journey to [COUNTRY] to [YOUR GOALS/MISSION]. I have already begun planning, researching and saving, but I will also need your help. To pay for my airfare and part of my program fee, I am looking to meet a fundraising goal of $2,000. I realize you are asked constantly to contribute to various causes on top of bills and everyday expenses, but you can make this dream a reality by contributing just $25. This the price of a night at the movies with popcorn and soda or a week’s worth of Starbuck coffee runs. Your donation would help me [YOUR GOAL] and assist me in learning about a new culture.

    Thank you for helping me reach my goals and I can’t wait to come back and share stories and pictures from my trip. With your donation you are making this dream a reality.

    Thank you! Yours truly,


    Start emailing your contacts, or better yet, press print and make your grandmother feels super special by getting something in the mail.

    Maybe they won’t respond to one letter, but have faith. In a few days, a week, the next time you see them over lunch, follow up or ask again. Most nonprofits have a system with three or four solicitations per donor. You don’t have to do that much, but definitely remember that it’s worth it to check back!

  • Say Thank You

    Don’t overlook this crucial step!

    This person is a rock star for donating to you, so make them feel that way. Send a thank you email, tag them on Facebook or send a handwritten note (this always impresses!). Once you’re aboard, send them a postcard and share your travel blog.

    Whatever you do, make sure these people know how important their gift is to you. Authentic thank you’s and real gratitude have amazing power. Use it wisely… and often.

  • Creative Ideas

    Use Your Strengths

    Do you have a creative talent or skill? Use it to your advantage. You can sell photos from your trip, write songs about your experience or create art based on your host country as an incentive for people to donate or thank you for people at the end of your trip. One of our alumni Jaime Gastelle painted as a way to fundraise her program fee! Read about her success story here.

    Host a Party

    To corner people to give (yeah, we said it) host a brunch, dinner or whatever. Get people to your home, share a meal and then ask away.

    • Not comfortable with the surprise attack? Openly host a party asking for a $5 donation at the door for your program. People like parties. They like you. They feel good giving. It’s a classic win-win-win.
    • Not comfortable with a party for money’s sake? Plan ahead and tag your party to an important milestone, holiday, house warming or event. It’s your birthday! Make a $20 donation in lieu of gifts. It’s the 4th of July! Come to my house for hotdogs and to support a good cause!

    Remember to make it fun and personal to you and your guests. Wheather it be a DIY spa party or Tag-football game,  make it work for this amazing cause.

    Other event options include:

    • Trivia contest night ($20 for a team to enter; split the pot for the winner)
    • Board game night (pay to play; split the pot for the winner)
    • BINGO night (pay to play; split the pot for the winner)

    Organize a Raffle

    Have a friend or family member donate something – a real, tangible item that anyone would be thrilled to receive. What do people get excited about in your friends group? Offer it up in a raffle and see who throws their glove in the ring!

    Do you have a special skill or trait you can raffle off? Perhaps you organize closets strangely well, or can teach basic beginner skills of a foreign language. Perhaps you simply could be a photographer for a friend’s event. Raffle off a skill or service that you feel comfortable sharing to incentivize more people to donate.

    Have a Garage Sale

    Have your friends or colleagues to bring in / donate their gently-used clothes. Organize either a “garage sale” sell-all situation; or have friends who donated pay a small fee to swap to their hearts’ contents. You’re helping them clean out their closets and find that book they always wanted to read.

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