After reading all about Real Break, you head straight to the Real Break page to see what trips are during your spring break. After agonizing over which of these amazing journeys to embark on, you finally pick one and set out to register…until you see the price.

Not many college students have extra cash lying around. You’re left with fundraising and asking people for money, which can be awkward and uncomfortable.

My godmother, who has made her career out of fundraising, helped me greatly when I was raising money for my two Real Break trips, so I  asked her to share some of her pro tips. Here’s some advice for different ways to politely and successfully get the donations flowing in.

Personal Asks

  • Ask.  If you don’t ask, people don’t give.  Sounds simple but so many forget to “make the ask.”
  • You are not asking for people to give you cash just to spend as you wish.  You are asking for them to INVEST in an experience that will change your lives and help you grow as people.
  • Don’t ask without context.  Outline the purpose of the trip – why is it important to you and to others for you to go.  Explain what the money is going for (it is actually an incredible deal that it covers airfare, accommodations, and site fees) and say that it is a trip sponsored by OCF.
  • Say, “Would you be willing to invest in making this experience possible for me?”  THEN BE SILENT (if asking in person).  Nature/people abhor silence.  Count to 25 slowly and let the other person come back with a reply.  They are processing and thinking.  Your inclination as the solicitor will be to feel uncomfortable and start to fill the silence by saying “it’s ok…there’s no need for you to give now….”  BE SILENT.
  • Share what your goal is and state a gift range. Don’t shoot too low and don’t shoot too high.  For example, say that the entire trip is costing $2500 and that people have given from $10 to $250.

Parish Fundraising

  • Speak in front of the parish during announcements. Explain what the trip is, what the money will cover, and why you’re going.  Talking in front of large crowds can be scary, but the personal address gives the audience and real person and cause their money goes to. Practice your speech on some friends beforehand if you’re nervous.
  • Sell something during coffee hour. Taking time to make or bake goods shows that you are dedicated to raising this money. People, especially little kids, like to get something in return for their giving. It also allows you to open up the conversation further about your Real Break trip.
  • Write to your home parish. If you live far from school and don’t regularly attend your home church, write a letter and ask the priest to put in the bulletin. People who watched you grow up will be proud you’re still an active member of the church and want to support you.

Crowdfunding Sites

Heads up: most crowdfunding sites (GoFundMe, KickStarter, etc.) take a small percentage of your donations for their own profit. I recommend GoFundMe for Real Break–their charge is 7.9%.

  • Explain your trip and goal in a narrative and in bullet points.  People learn and process information in different ways.  Some people will respond to reading and others to a video – if you can, shoot a short (30 second) video of yourself and attach it to your email or post on your crowdfunding page.
  • Share your GoFundMe page on social media and encourage others to share it to to reach max audience. Post some sort of update everyday to show people the progress you’re making so they’re encouraged to give.
  • Email your GoFundMe page out. Even if people have a Facebook, they may not check it every day. Most people check their email regularly, and it expands your range of potential donors outside of social media.