You don’t know until you try…
Asking others for money was a really scary part of the fundraising process. Yes, I believed in what I was going to be doing, but did others? Turns out, not only did I have massive support from my own circle, but I also had support from a circle that I didn’t even know existed!
I started fundraising for my Tanzania fellowship in January, six months prior to my fellowship’s start date. By March, I had raised about $1,600 through my own community on GoFundMe by posting on social media the same day each week with a different blurb about what I would be doing in Tanzania, why I was participating in this fellowship, and what the updated financial needs were. I hit a lull around March and still needed about $1,000.
Fundraising helped me discover an incredible group of people within my own community.
Given that I live in the San Francisco Bay area, I have access to many cultural hubs. It’s a beautiful melting pot of diverse groups of people. I decided to search for a Tanzanian cultural group in my area to solicit support. Low and behold, there IS a Tanzanians in the Bay Area group right in my backyard! I crafted a message explaining who I was, where I was going, the organization I was partnering with, and what my financial needs were.
The generosity of people I’d never met blew me away.
I was nervous about sending this letter - I wasn’t sure how it would be received. I quickly learned that this community was incredibly warm and willing to not only financially support me, but also to share my GoFundMe in their own circles! They were so grateful and excited for the team headed to their country to help empower Tanzanian teachers. The man who ran the Facebook page offered to meet and have coffee with me to talk to me about all things Tanzania.
I began receiving donations from names that I had never heard of, knowing that they were a product of this amazing group of Tanzanians who were thrilled to support my voluntary efforts.
Think outside the box, and don’t be afraid to ask for help!
My advice to teachers in the same boat as me? Tap into cultural resources around where you live or in your state! Not only might they be willing to offer financial assistance, but they might also be willing to meet with you and share about their country from their perspective and provide invaluable context, tips, and answers to the long list of questions fellows often head in-country with.
Step out of your comfort zone and say ‘YES’ to a summer of teaching and travel. 👍