So, you’ve decided to take the plunge and fundraise for Dreams to Acts: Nicaragua. First of all, thank you from the bottom of our hearts. Whether you raise $5 or $5,000+ your contribution is going to make a real difference for the students of San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua.

We know that raising $5,000 can be a daunting idea, but the hard work you put into fundraising will be what makes the trip truly meaningful. We’ve put together some tips to make your goal much more achievable.

The good news is that 25 people raised at least $5,000 last year and 46 people did it for our previous 3-year project, Hope to Haiti. Many have done it multiple times. You’ll find some tips from successful fundraisers on this page.

Our Tips and Ideas

The first thing to do is ask everyone you know for their support! People give to people; make your case, let your friends and family know why this is important to you, and you’re already off to a great start.

Second, let everyone know about the charity and the cause the funds are being raised for. The more the people know about the charity and what their money will be used for, the higher the chances of receiving financial donations. Email and other sources of communication over the internet such as blogs, forums, chat networks, social networks, etc are a great source for spreading the word.

Another important thing to do is seek out possible sources of matching donations. Many, many corporations, both large and small, participate in matching gifts—employers like Starbucks, McDonalds, Home Depot, Radio Shack, and Gap. Check with your own employer and see if they have a similar program. You will likely need to submit some paperwork and wait for approvals, so it’s best to get the ball rolling with this process as early as possible.

Clear as mud? Don’t worry. We’re going to break it down for you…

Let’s start with a writing exercise. Think about why you care about this project, what inspires you about the work Random Acts is doing in Nicaragua, and why you want to help. Then start drafting a letter to your friends and family telling them what this means to you. A successful fundraising appeal does a few things; it makes a connection between the reader and the writer (in the case of written appeals), it explains the pertinent details of the project you’re raising funds for, and it makes giving easy.

Once you’ve explained why this is important to you, grab some facts off of this website and the crowdrise project page and let folks know in a nutshell what D2A: Nicaragua is all about.

Then, to make giving easy, link to your personal page on Crowdrise. And don’t forget to fill out your Crowdrise page first; add a few pictures, fill in your story, make it interesting.

Once your appeal is ready to go, send it to everyone you know, and personalize wherever possible. For example, send it as a message to all of your Facebook friends, addressed to each person with a line or two about why you think that friend will be interested in the project. (Pace yourself when sending Facebook messages, or they’ll think you’re spamming.) You can also send your appeal by email, tweet links to your Crowdrise page, and post appeals on LiveJournal, Tumblr, or your personal blog. Get your message out there in any way you can. Ask your friends to cross-post for you.

In some cases, asking by phone or in person is more effective. Grandma might not appreciate an email as much as a phone call. Some people like close relatives or good friends deserve the courtesy of a personal ask.

Next, get creative. What can you do to stand out? Maybe try some old-school fundraising methods — they’re classics for a reason — like bake sales, garage sales, or offering your services as a dog walker. What about a dog wash or hosting a spaghetti dinner?

We’ll do our best to keep the ideas coming, so watch this space. Also, remember that we’re all in this together. Feel free to share your great ideas in the comments on this page!

Share Your Tips!