From having nothing…to making a start!
I volunteered in Togo, West Africa, for three months last year (September through December). I went with an organisation (not FSIP) that charged me a fee per month to volunteer in order to cover their admin and other fees. Included in this cost was my placement (in a school), my insurance and my accommodation. I had to find more money extra to that for flights and spending money.
Having made the decision to volunteer in April 2015, and taking into account the volunteering costs that had to be paid well in advance, I had barely three months to raise around £5,000; a challenge that daunts me to this very day. I was only 17 years old at the time, so my mother agreed to match what I managed to raise, which meant that my target was thankfully cut to £2500 (although that was still a phenomenal amount to my ears).
I knew right away that I could count on my friends and family to get involved in sponsoring me, but I also recognized that I needed a money-making plan with more longevity than a single sponsored event. Of course I set up a JustGiving page, but it’s incredibly easy for people to disregard or ignore this, purely because it’s online. So, I needed to raise my money in person. I had to get physical.
I researched local fetes and village carnivals, and decided to attend as many of them as possible, plastering fake tattoos onto unsuspecting young children. Most of these events required a table to be hired at around £5-£15. I got a job as a waitress and used my first pay cheques to stock up on wholesale supplies (all bought from eBay) and put money aside for the hire of tables. It does sound like a bit of a ridiculous venture, but even the worst days turned a profit of over £100, and it was brilliant fun to do besides.
Putting myself out there!
Another more long-term fundraiser was gardening and general dogs-bodying for my neighbours: I mowed lawns, walked dogs, babysat- I live in an area dense with pensioners, so it made sense to utilize that to my advantage. I collected dozens of bags of clothes that I then either weighed in or sold on eBay. Anything works, as long as you have the drive and confidence to put yourself out there.
Perhaps the most radical thing I did was my sponsored head shave, which I (or rather, my overexcited friends) did on the 29 May 2015. This was my big sponsored ‘event’, which raised just over £200. Once again, it sounds completely mad, but I was so determined to be able to go and volunteer that I overcame my fears. Outside of the fact that shaving my head raised so much for my cause, it was an incredible experience.
A ‘can do’ attitude leads to success
In the end, I personally raised £2,200: not my target but still such a vast amount for such a short space of time, especially given that my mum’s bargain doubled that amount to £4,400. I learned a lot about fundraising, and if I had to give any advice I would say to plan trips further in advance than I did. I know I could have raised much more money had I had even a little bit more time.
Another key thing to remember is to never dismiss an idea out of hand. The fake tattoo stall was my mum’s idea, and at first I thought it was the most stupid suggestion, but it turned out to be the biggest contributor to my funds.
Finally – be determined: there are thousands of fundraising options. Sponsored events, arts and crafts stalls, cosmetics and candles parties: the secret is finding what works and sticking to it with a 100% “can do” attitude.
Maisey Midgley is from Doncaster in the North of England. She worked for three months in a school and an orphanage in Lome, Togo, with young children. She met Jeni (who later started FSIP) whilst in Togo.