Travel is expensive by nature. To help you earn money for an Unschool Adventures trip or another long-term travel experience, U.A. director Blake Boles has published The Unschool Adventures Guide to Online Travel Fundraising.
It was written back in 2012, but the advice is still relevant. Download it for free on Dropbox.
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Is this guide for me?
If you have a big dream to explore the world, insufficient funds to do so, and the courage to find a creative solution to this problem, then this book is for you.
Want to backpack across Europe for two months? Take a full-blown gap year? Join a summer camp on the other side of the country? Attend an in-depth training program or educational program? I can help you get there.
The Unschool Adventures Guide to Online Travel Fundraising is focused on younger travelers—those in their early teens to early twenties—because they typically have the least money and the most opportunity for extended travel. But travelers of all ages will benefit from the fundraising advice found within this book.
How much can I raise?
The travel campaigns that I’ve helped build have successfully raised $1,200–$4,800. But for a well-run campaign, there is literally no limit to how much you might raise.
That being said, fundraising is not easy and shouldn’t be attempted lightly. Here are the general challenge levels to expect:
$500–$1,000 goal: Less Challenging
$1,000–$3,000 goal: Challenging
$3,000–$5,000 goal: Very Challenging
$5,000–$10,000 goal: Extremely Challenging
What do I owe my contributors?
The type of fundraising promoted in this book is not charitable giving, where you simply ask people for donations. Instead, it’s a specific type of fundraising called crowdfunding, in which you design and offer “perks” in exchange for every contribution. The best perks make use of your unique talents.
Which crowdfunding website do you suggest I use?
This book focuses on Indiegogo, one of the original crowdfunding websites and the one friendliest to travel-oriented campaigns.
Who will fund my campaign?
Know this now: there is no army of anonymous philanthropic donors waiting for you on the Internet! In other words, just because you create an online fundraising campaign, don’t expect random strangers to donate to it. Maybe they will once or twice, but never consistently.
So who will contribute to your campaign?
Your first and best donors will be the people who typically support you in other realms of life: your immediate family, extended family, family friends, and personal friends.
The next donors will come from your face-to-face communities: your educational circle, workplace, sports team, drama group, or place of worship.
Your online communities—Facebook friends, Twitter followers, blog readers—will also contribute.
Finally, you’ll receive donations from people who don’t know you personally but who heard about you through the grapevine: the “six degrees of separation” phenomenon.
Having more social connections, especially face-to-face connections, will drastically improve your chances of fundraising success.
Do I need to be 18 or older?
You may run an online fundraising campaign at any age. You will need access to a PayPal account (and possibly a checking account) in order to collect your funds. For minors, a parent typically provides these accounts.
Online fundraising sounds great! Should I use it to fund every awesome trip I dream up?
No! Launching back-to-back campaigns, especially for trips that you could conceivably fund yourself, will quickly alienate potential contributors.
Online fundraising is not about seeking handouts for every goal in life. Instead, it’s about exercising your creative and entrepreneurial muscles to seize a big, life-changing travel opportunity that you clearly cannot afford on your own.
How do I prepare for a campaign?
Work hard toward your travel goal in whatever way you can.
Did you work and save for months before starting this campaign? Conduct hundreds of hours of background research? Study a language intensely? These are the kinds of committed actions that will earn you sympathy and generate a lot of energy for your campaign.
Did you just think up this trip yesterday? Have you not yet researched the important facts and costs behind the trip? Are you not really committed to going? Then it’s not time to run a fundraiser. Crowdfunding is a powerful tool that should be used sparingly.
What’s Unschool Adventures?
I’m glad you asked! Unschool Adventures is my travel and education company. Since 2008, I’ve been organizing and leading adventures for groups of self-directed young adults. Sometimes our programs go internationally—to Argentina or Australia, for example—and sometimes we stay in the United States for writing retreats and leadership programs.
In my time running Unschool Adventures, I often hear young people say, “Blake, I’d love to go on a big trip, but I just can’t afford it.”
This book is my answer to that eternal roadblock.
Now, let’s get started. You’ve got places to go.