Volunteer Tips

These tips were written with Hope to Haiti in mind, but many of them can also be used for Dreams to Acts: Nicaragua!

Andrea NiessenFrom Rea:

  • Make it clear to people why you are fundraising, why this project is so important to you. What fascinates you about it? Why is your heart in this project? Be personal.
  • Let people know that we’re helping people local to Jacmel, and doing things their way, not imposing our own ideas.
  • Talk, talk, talk! Everywhere and to everybody. I’ve learned that there are donors everywhere – sometimes where you least expect. Talk to them, they might become your biggest donors.
  • Think about where you can find people who might be interested. Maybe someone you know works in a big company. Last year I distributed fliers at the gym and the doctors office.
  • For me, the most important way to share is the internet – are you on facebook or twitter? Share it there.
  • Never forget to say Thank You. Do it in public, mentioning people and saying they donated and that they are an important part of your team now.
  • And finally, don’t let people bring you down. Keep your enthusiasm, go for your dreams, you can make it!

Vanesha GyaFrom Vanesha:

  • I’m trying to make the people and projects in Jacmel seem as real as possible. I’m sending several email appeals, each concentrating on a different program in Jacmel that RA is supporting.
  • Make it easy to give – link to your Crowdrise page.
  • Include photos and link to nicaragua.randomacts.org

Highlights from Vanesha’s first fundraising email:

  • “When people see Haiti on the news it always seems to be images of people living in fear and negativity.  What those images don’t show us is that even though the people of Haiti are poor, they are rich in courage and strength and hope.  The kids welcomed us with open hearts and smiles and the people who wanted better lives for the children of Jacmel worked selflessly and tirelessly. It’s amazing how so many lives were changed in such a short space of time and your money helped achieve that.  I wanted you to meet some of the people whose lives your money will help.
  • I know you must get lots of requests for donations but I can promise you I can put names and faces to every person your money is helping.  Every penny makes a huge difference – if you can help, please do.  100% of the money will go to Haiti, I will be covering my own travel and accommodation expenses. If you’re not in a position to help, please feel free to spread the word and forward this e-mail on.”

From Abby:

  • Figure out what unique skills, abilities, and resources *you* can bring to the table.
  • Are you a social butterfly, and good at talking to people? Raise donations by word of mouth, and bug people until they donate!
  • Are you an introvert who’s shy about this kind of thing? Me too! It’s still worth spreading the word to your friends and family, because a few hundred dollars in donations is less you have to raise using other methods.
  • Are you a good writer, artist, crafter, or do you have any other particular talent? Figure out a way to monetize it for the cause.
  • Do you have any special skills at all? (Heck, knowing English is a skill, so I’m willing to bet the answer is “yes” if you think hard enough!) Teach what you know. Help people learn how to use a computer, design websites for people, teach them yoga — whatever you can dream up.
  • Are you more of a “one huge burst of effort” person? One big event that raises $5K can do it, and you only have to find 50 people willing to pay $100, some companies willing to donate space, services, or products, and the motivation to follow through every single day on making it happen!
  • Marketing is key. You NEED to get the word out however possible, so use social media, Kijiji, Craigslist, post up flyers, and send emails about what you’re offering.
  • Figure out how much you have to raise per week and try a few different ways of fundraising until you find one that’s working, then ramp it up another level or two. Change your weekly goals as necessary, but check in every week to see how you’re doing relative to those goals.
  • Keep some concrete reminder of your goal nearby. I changed all my forum signatures to a tickerfactory.com ticker of how much I’d raised, and how much remained. Draw out a fundraising thermometer and put it on your wall, colouring in another bubble or section for every $100. Keeping your brain engaged in fundraising every day will help the ideas and motivation flow faster.
  • Break it down a little. I always tried to think of it as raising just 50 x $100. Can you persuade someone to donate $100 in exchange for [insert your talent, product, or winning smile here]? Only 49 people left to persuade.