Fundraising Ideas

Many times volunteers really want to come to Costa Rica and participate in our programs, but they say they can’t afford it. Why not think about doing some good old fashioned fundraising to help pay for some — or all — of your costs?

Amanda Rose Kessner and her friends paid for 100% of the costs of their trip to volunteer in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, including their airfare. And she says it was easy! In this article, Amanda shares her tips with us on how to do it. Amanda is currently a student at UC Santa Cruz, double majoring in Feminist Studies and Community Studies. She recently interned in Costa Rica through a non-profit called CAN and worked at a fair/direct trade coffee coop.


When fundraising for a volunteer project it is important to remember that no fundraiser is too small; every penny counts when you are working towards a good cause. The first step to professional fundraising is organizing a fundraising game plan, so to speak.

If you will be receiving monetary donations you should arrange where the money will go. Do you plan on accepting personal checks? Are you willing to accept cash? Another way to receive donations is to set up a PayPal account (, which enables donors to go online and contribute directly to your cause. You should first check with your volunteer organization to see if they have some advice, as they may have a system in place to help you. In addition, your volunteer organization might have a way to make those donations tax deductible for your donors.

Once the direction of your donations are arranged the next step is to type up a mission statement with your plans, goals, and why you feel passionately about what you are fundraising for. You might want to even make your own brochure with photos.

Do not forget to mention the organization you will be working with and provide their information as well. It always helps to provide credible references. People are more likely to contribute to something they perceive as legitimate and providing website links, etc. can help to support your mission statement. The last information you want to provide in your mission statement is your monetary goal and how to donate. This will help people gage what will be an effective contribution.

Depending on how much time you have prior to your project you may want to create a website or a blog where you can post your mission statement as well us update people on your fundraising progress, how close you are to goals, projects dates, dates of scheduled fundraisers, and you can share your experiences after your volunteer work is completed.

Personal websites and mission statements can be distributed to all your friends, family, neighbors, local business, your place of worship, youth groups, or in class. If you are a student it is great to share your mission statement in your classes and ask for support from your peers. One idea is to pass around a large envelope around a classroom and ask people to contribute just a dollar. This may seem silly or insignificant, but every dollar will add up, especially if you were to do this exercise in all of your classes.

Take advantage of local restaurants and venues for fundraising. Many local businesses are interested in doing percentage shares where they will give some of their profit to your cause if you bring the customers for a fundraiser. Maybe you have friends in a band. Ask them if they are willing to play to raise money for your project. Community organizations and international groups such as the Rotary Club are also great to get in touch with because often times they already have money set aside to donate and maybe it could be for you and your cause. You won’t know until you ask!

Another great idea is to contact your local newspaper or radio station and see if they would be interested in advertising your cause with donation information or announce the date of a fundraiser your have planned. Depending on if you are working solo or you have friends working toward the same goal it always helps to team up. Good group fundraisers are bake sales, fundraising picnics, walk-a-thons where people can donate a certain amount for each lap walked, or going door-to-door in your neighborhood asking for donations. Most importantly, you must keep track of everyone who contributes to your cause and send them thank you cards as well as let them know how your volunteer project went and share your experiences. People will be much more willing to support you in the future if you thank them and let them know about how they contributed by sharing the great work you did with their help. If you are professional, creative, and passionate about what you are raising money for, you can’t go wrong!