February 15, 2013

Crowd Funding Your Trip

Traveling can be very expensive. In some cases, depending on where you decide to go, you can easily spend over a thousand dollars on transportation, entry fees, and visas before you even set foot in another country.

For many aspiring travelers, financial limitations are a seemingly insurmountable obstacle to overcome in order to realize their travel ambitions. But thanks to people’s generosity and the increasing popularity of crowd funding, those dreams are able to become reality.

Crowd funding has been around for centuries, but its essentially an effort to raise a funds for a project or endeavor by collecting money from a large group of people, typically from the Internet, according to Forbes Magazine.

However, while there is an endless supply of potential backers out there, there are no guarantees that they will find out about your project or choose to fund it.

The first step in personal travel fundraising is finding the best site for your project. Indiegogo is a good option as it allows people to start campaigns for anything. One benefit of using Indiegogo is the Flexible Funding option; Flexible Funding guarantees that in the event that the campaign raises money but fails to reach the goal, the user is still able to keep the funds that were raised, aside from the 9 percent platform fee.

On Indiegogo, it’s a common practice to offer backers a reward for their donation, and these tokens of gratitude are usually on a tiered scale. For example, backers who donate $5 to your trip to Chile can get a postcard while those who give $200 can get lapis lazuli jewelry. These rewards are tokens of gratitude, which are optional for backers to claim, that can also serve as incentives for potential backers.

If you want to travel abroad in order to volunteer, consider posting your campaign on Volunteer Forever. The site has an extensive list of volunteer opportunities. If you’re interested in volunteering but haven’t found the perfect program yet, Volunteer Forever can help you find your dream opportunity and raise the funds necessary to get there. Unlike Indiegogo, Volunteer Forever doesn’t have a rewards system, so backers support your project without wanting or expecting anything in return.

For newlywed couples planning on embarking on their honeymoon, HoneyFund helps you raise money from loved ones for your trip. Rather than choosing from your registry at the department store, people can donate money to fund your trip. Unlike projects posted on Indiegogo and Volunteer Forever which practically depend on the kindness of strangers, HoneyFund allows people who were already planning on spending money on a gift for you spend it in a different way.

After you’ve selected the best site for your travel fundraising project, you have to convincingly plead your case to the Internet. A quick glance on Indiegogo and Volunteer Forever shows that there are countless people seeking funding for their dreams, and some have found considerably more success than others. Campaigns become successful because the people behind them articulate their objectively clearly.

From the outset, you need to engage the visitor. If you decide to put a video on your page, make sure it’s well made and isn’t just a boring talking head clip. If you’re interested in environmental science and want to go see Mount Kilimanjaro before all of the snow melts, put photos illustrating the mountain’s snow loss in your video.

Share a brief personal anecdote that conveys your desire to go on this trip; this will resonate with potential backers. If you choose to write and include photos rather than a video, be sure that your statement is well-written. Also, if you’ve been saving money for the trip, mention it. This shows that you are actively involved in making this trip a reality, and you’re asking for help to achieve a goal that, despite your best efforts, is frustratingly out of your reach.

Lastly, remember that fundraising is an active process. Use social media to raise awareness of your project.  Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr are all great platforms for interacting with people who may fund your trip. Share links to interesting articles relevant to the destination. Post captivating photos of your potential trip sites with a sentence or two detailing why you want to go there. Use other social media friendly materials to get people interested in your trip. After all, the more you sell the trip, the more likely you are to get people’s support.

About the author: Joshua John is the digital strategist for the MBA@UNC program, the University of North Carolinas mba online. In addition to traveling, he also loves gadgets, movies, and all things Batman. Follow him on twitter @joshuavjohn.


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