How to Volunteer for Free by Fundraising

Published 14/09/2017

Volunteer Abroad for Free

We live and breathe volunteering here at Think Pacific. We think it provides you with life changing skills and experiences, as well as providing support to communities and areas around the world that need help. You have the chance to immerse yourself into a new culture and share your passion, efforts and knowledge to help these local communities.

But what happens when you can’t afford the project fee? How can you still volunteer abroad with no money?

This article breaks down various ways our previous volunteers have managed to fund their project fees and in essence, volunteer abroad for free. This has allowed them to have once in a lifetime experiences that will stay with them forever. For anyone needing reminding of the benefits of volunteering abroad, just watch of the video below!

Things to Consider…

There are so many volunteering projects available that choosing the right one for you can seem like a daunting task. They can also vary in price dramatically. “Free” projects can often have very little support for volunteers as well as even having hidden costs throughout the project.

A free volunteering project may in fact end up costing the same as a fee-based program, as they may expect you to pay for your own food, housing, transport, etc.

Your ability to make the difference you want to, is also heavily impacted by the infrastructure and planning the volunteer organisation does. Free projects can result in volunteers feeling frustrated that they aren’t given the opportunity to make a difference. The lack of support can also make volunteers feel overwhelmed and anxious.

Here at Think Pacific, we pride ourselves on being as transparent as possible about our projects, including where your money goes. We charge for our volunteering projects and this money is used to support the communities directly.

We only work in Fiji so we have been able to establish long term relationships with government partners to ensure our efforts are used in ways that will make the biggest impact.

But does this mean volunteering abroad is reserved only for those who have enough money? Not if you follow the tips below…

How to Volunteer for Free by Fundraising

If you’re searching for free volunteering programs and projects, you may find yourself limited with what is available. Volunteering abroad is a big decision and picking a project that resonates and inspires you is a vital element. This guide is designed to show how you can pick a project that you really want to do, and do it for free through fundraising.

Fundraising is a very practical and effective way to volunteer for free. It also allows you to build up more awareness for the project and journey you are embarking on – which can have significant impacts for those local communities.

Lots of our previous volunteers have fundraised the whole project fee.

Matt Larson’s Fundraising Experience

“Before Think Pacific I genuinely thought the idea of fundraising would be a piece of cake, I was wrong! I have so far managed to raise over £1000 from a number of different ideas I have planned and executed while studying in my final year at Liverpool John Moores University.

These ideas have included a half marathon and the liverpool 10k. Also a pub quiz night was another really good way to raise money through fees for quiz entries and a raffle. Although, the fundraising has not been an easy task, it has been an amazing challenge that I’m glad I decided to undertake. It also makes you realise what wonderful friends you have that help contribute to sharing your story and donating their time to help with events!

Now I have raised my fee – I can’t wait to depart for Fiji next month, meet my fellow team mates and begin the project.”

Rob Lewis

“I raised over £700 in under 30 days by completing a personal triathlon with my very unfit dad! (Rowing machine, 10KM run and a cycle from Scarborough to Harrogate). Posting daily updates on social media was the key to getting the word out and maximising donations to my page.”

Read more volunteer fundraising case studies here.

Benefits of Fundraising for your Gap Year or Volunteering Program

As well as covering for the cost of your volunteering project, fundraising is also a fantastic way to prepare yourself for the volunteering. You’ll need to research where you’re going, learn about the culture/language, and focus on how you intend on making the difference.

Having all this prepared so you can communicate it effectively for fundraising, means that when you do go, you are more focused. You are more likely to have researched different things you can do while on project and mapped out what you want to achieve while abroad.

We’ve also noticed that volunteers who have fundraised tend to feel more aware of their time and as a result take more pictures/videos and ensure they are interacting as much as possible with the local communities.

Fundraising doesn’t have to be difficult or stressful. For so many of our volunteers, fundraising is a blast. It’s a great opportunity to strengthen your relationships, meet new people and learn new skills. It can even be used to connect and meet people who you’ll end up volunteering alongside. This can help forge friendships before you embark on the journey of your life.

The 5 Myths of Fundraising

  • There is a short cut or way to avoid it being challenging.

If this were true – we would have found it. There is no exception, you will have to put effort in.

  • There’s no money out there to ask for

There’s trillions of dollars in the world and lots of people who are willing to support you, some of whom you haven’t even heard of yet! This could be your family and friendship network, clubs, schools, work, local companies or local charities. It really does boil down to you being resourceful, researching, picking up the phone, writing a letter and finding who is willing to help.

  • It will happen eventually

Some may be lucky, opportunities may fall on their lap. But for most, it won’t. You must sustain a level of intensity and persist. Persistence is the key. Connect with your ‘why’ and let it create the energy, passion and enthusiasm for you to persist.

  • I don’t have enough time

Why do some volunteers do more than others? We all have the same amount of time in one day. We make time for the things that are most important to us. It’s so important to take action with baby step approach. So long as you keep moving forward.

  • Average efforts will produce extraordinary results

It takes extraordinary effort to achieve extraordinary results, rare do we have a volunteer who fundraises their fee without extraordinary effort.

Fundraising Ideas

These following ideas are taken from our official fundraising guide. For the full list (over 50 ideas!), simply get in touch and we’ll send it over. For volunteers already signed up with Think Pacific, you’ll find the full guide in the online portal.

1. Auction
2. BBQ
3, Quiz night
4.Car wash
5.Open mic night
6. Fancy dress night
7.Cake sale
8.Talent show
9. Jumble Sale
10. Battle of the bands
11. Tough Mudder
12. 3 Peaks climb
13. 24 hour run
14. Sponsored silence
15. Sky dive
15. Bike ride / challenge
16. Coffee morning
17. Race night

Fundraising your Project Fee

If you’d like to chat about fundraising for project fee some more, our friendly team are ready and waiting to help you get started.

Does Fiji sound like your ideal gap year destination?
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