Crowdfunding has grown in popularity over the past decade, both for creative or business projects needing backers (commonly referred to as a kickstarter, often with a reward for the backers if a goal is reached), and for individuals trying to fundraise within their community for assistance with unexpected bills and sudden changes of circumstances.
In recent years we have learnt of many students successfully using the crowdfunding model to help them raise money towards study abroad costs. Below we share some top tips from students, as well as a case study.
1: TELL YOUR STORY.
Upload at least four images and videos of you- tell people about your life, your studies, your goals, your upcoming study abroad program and your destination city. How will the study abroad program help you reach your longer term academic/career goals? Consider using travel videos from youtube or link to your program/college webpage- anything to share more information with your backers.
2: EXPLAIN WHAT THE MONEY WILL BE USED FOR.
Do you hope to have help covering your tuition, the program fee, your plane ticket? Go into detail about how the money will be spent so that backers know right from the start what they are donating towards.
3: ASK FOR A SMALL AMOUNT – IT ALL ADDS UP.
Asking backers for a $2 or $5 donation doesn’t seem like much. But it all adds up. And asking for a smaller amount means that more people will feel that they can help out. Who knows, they may want to donate more once they reach your platform and learn about your story.
4: SHARE THE CAMPAIGN WIDELY.
Once set up, make sure you post the crowdfunding campaign across your social media channels and ask your friends and followers to share on their profiles too.
5: SAY THANK YOU.
Remember to check the site regularly and say thank you right away when you receive a donation. Keep track of who has donated.
6: UPDATE YOUR BACKERS ON YOUR JOURNEY.
Keep your backers updated on your progress- are you attending pre-departure info sessions? Did you buy your plane ticket? How is packing going? Once you are overseas, let them know how the program is going. Consider sending a personalised update or postcard to anyone who has donated a larger amount.
6: CONSIDER A KICK-STARTER MODEL – BUT ONLY IF IT IS REALISTIC AND ACHIEVABLE.
The kickstarter model offers a reward based on tiered donations, but should only be used if you know you will be able to honor your promises. You will be plenty busy once you are abroad with classes, cultural activities and enjoying your destination city, so don’t over-commit to what you can offer. Depending on the tiers you set up- maybe offer to send a postcard or two, depending on the length of the program, or set up a private photo album or blog for donors to follow. We wouldn’t recommend promising a physical souvenir- you’ll be limited on suitcase space by the time you come home!
7: BE HONEST AND ACCOUNTABLE WITH YOUR BACKERS.
If plans change and you are no longer able to travel, or you decide not to, make sure you return all monies donated. Ensure you use a crowdfunding platform that offers this feature and offers protection both for you, and your backers. Honesty is always the best policy, and good karma too, if that’s your thing. Remember that you’ll have shared personal details, and are representing your college and program. The generosity of strangers should never be taken advantage of.
CASE STUDY: HAILIE
In Spring 2018, Hailie studied abroad in Florence, Italy. To help her raise money for the program, she decided to crowdfund. As well as advertising her crowdfunding page on her social media networks, she had business cards printed and gave one to everyone she crossed paths with – she even got permission to share it with her customers at her part-time jobs as a waitress and real estate assistant.
By asking for only a $2 donation, she found people were more willing to donate and the donations soon added up.
“Most donations came from perfect strangers. I raised over $2,000 by sharing this card.”Hailie G, Spring semester in Florence, 2018
Looking for more inspiration? Not sure if crowdfunding is for you? Have a look at our Top Ten Creative Fundraising Ideas and check social media for more case studies!