Getting ready to start up a Facebook fundraiser to help you afford your semester volunteering abroad with ILP? Awesome! Here's some tips first.
All in all this is a really cool tool for fundraising. Facebook wasn't very popular for fundraising in past years because they imposed fees, but they made some changes at the end of 2017 and they're now a great option with zero fees (more on that in a minute). This is a great way to let a large audience know that you're going to volunteer abroad and would love some support without really having to invest anything.
Need another cool fundraising tool? We've linked all of our fundraising ideas and tips on our Guide To Affording A Semester Abroad (it'll help no matter which organization you choose).
There's a few things to know before you venture into the world of Facebook donations though. The biggest thing is that ...
There are two ways to start a Facebook fundraiser:
- For yourself (in your own name)
- For a charity (in ILP's name)
So which way is best for ILP volunteers?
Fundraising in your name:
There's a fee (2.6% + $0.30 USD/donation to be exact). You can find other ways to receive donations (like the Charity way that we're talking about below) where there are zero fees to fundraise which means the entire portion goes to you and your ILP program fee. This is still a bit cheaper than Gofundme though (which is the leading fundraising platform and you've probably seen those floating around often because it's so popular). At the time this article was written their processing fee was 2.9% + $0.30. That fee may be small enough to not be a big deal for you, but if you ask me every little bit counts.
There's aren't any. It's not tax-deductible this way. If you donate directly to a non-profit (like ILP) it is tax-deductible and that can actually be a huge benefit for many of the people who make donations to you (especially large ones) so that's usually something to let people know when you're doing a fundraiser because that's just an added reason for them to donate to your trip. But if you do it this way - as a fundraiser to yourself - make sure you let them know that it's not tax-deductible.
Really the only good thing I see about doing it this way is that you would have all of the donations go directly to you and you receive them more quickly than ILP does (we'll explain below). Facebook says that they'll initiate the donations to be deposited into your bank account 1 week after you receive them (and then your bank may take a few business days before it's actually sitting available in your account). Pretty easy that way. Then you'll just turn around and make a payment towards your ILP program fee from your account.
Here's Facebook's FAQ page about personal fundraisers, including information on how you can start one!
Fundraising for a charity:
There's no fee. This is huge because if you do any research about fundraising platforms you'll see that even the best ones who advertise themselves as "no fee" (like Gofundme) still have a payment processing fee (that's just the typical cost to process payments online - usually around 3%). However, at the end of 2017 Facebook announced that they would absorb the processing fee for payments made towards a charity. Pretty cool. You won't find a better deal anywhere else (at least right now).
Also, it's tax-deductible! We talked about this a little bit above, but this can be a good thing for those who make donations to you. If you do fundraising this way, make sure to make it known that it's tax-deductible.
When you receive a donation on your Facebook fundraiser for a charity, they turn around and mail a check directly to our ILP office, but the catch is that it may take quite a bit of time. Online Facebook states that it takes about two weeks to process donation checks (and add a few days for the mail) -- but we've seen it take a 2-3 months before we receive some donation checks. Yikes.
So why is that a big deal? Your donations can't be applied to your ILP account until we receive the physical check. If you're fundraising far enough in advance this shouldn't really matter. But ... if your ILP monthly program fee payment is due in a couple weeks, this isn't your best fundraising option because it actually won't be available for possibly a couple of months.
The other issue to know about is that Facebook doesn't tell us who the donation check is for. Yeah ... that's sort of a problem if we don't know who to give the check to right? Facebook is set up for you to fundraise in behalf of an entire charitable organization (like ILP), but they don't give you the power to say what the donation is supposed to be for within that organization -- they let ILP decide what the check goes towards. Well, we know that you're obviously fundraising for your program fee (not for ILP in general out of the goodness of your heart) and we want to make sure that check goes towards you!
So this is REALLY important. Critical actually.
We receive checks in the mail with your donor's name (like your Uncle Joe or your mom's best friend Jan) and are made out to ILP in the amount of $50 (for example) ... and that's pretty much all the information we get. So here's some strategies to help us know that they check needs to go to you.
1) Ask your friends and family to include their email with their donation. People usually don't do this, but if there's an email then we can reach out and ask them who they made the donation for (that's you) in case you forget to email and let us know you're expecting a check to come for $50 from Uncle Joe. There's a spot where they can leave their email when they make the donation, but it's not required so just make sure to ask them to include it.
2) After you have received donations, you should be able to see the details on your fundraiser like how many donations you received and how much money you're expecting to get. Write ILP an email (firstname.lastname@example.org) and just let us know that you're expecting that we will receive some Facebook donation checks in the mail, what the amount of each donation was, and attach a screenshot of your fundraiser where it shows the donations. We'll make a note of that and then when we receive those checks in the next couple of months we'll know to allocate them to your program fee. We won't be able to credit the donation towards your program fee UNLESS you call or email ILP, ya follow me?
Here's Facebook's FAQ page on charitable fundraisers, including information on how you can start yours.
Good luck on your fundraiser! We've had so many volunteers who pay for at least half (if not more) of their ILP program fee through generous donations. We love seeing the support of your friends and family as you embark on this awesome adventure, volunteering abroad. It's life changing. Even if they can only afford to donate $5, it can all add up!
If you need more tips for how to afford traveling abroad (or just save money in general), click here or just ask us! Click that blue button and we can get you in touch with one of our representatives. They've completed a semester abroad on a college student's budget just like you and so they've got tips to help you make it all work.