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Mission Trip Fundraising: How to Revitalize Your Effort Through Classy Online Giving Software


By Sean Chisholm

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Reading Time: 3 minutes

How Mission Trip Fundraising Traditionally Works

Many churches, faith-based organizations, and even some secular ones, incorporate mission trips into their charitable programs. Generally speaking, mission trips give volunteers the opportunity to join the organization and help out on the ground. These trips bring supporters directly to the front lines and immerse them in the programs and culture of the organization. Volunteers often leave with life changing experiences and the organization gets additional hands to help out. It’s a classic win-win.

Still, there’s a big challenge for organizations that embrace the mission trip model. How are you supposed to efficiently fund the trip?

Traditionally, the volunteer is the one responsible for raising the funds necessary to take the service trip. And this makes a lot of sense. There aren’t many charitable organizations that can divert a sizable portion of their revenue to fund expensive volunteer trips out to the field! So the onus is on the individual.

But if it’s on the individual to raise the funds necessary for the trip, how exactly do they accomplish that? Up until now, volunteers have generally tapped family members and friends in the hope they would send a check. Sure, they might send emails to their contacts as well, but the funding process has been largely conducted offline.

In recent years, however, this has begun to change. Organizations are increasingly making use of online fundraising tools to help their volunteers raise more money faster. If you haven’t tried it yourself, here’s a look at a few organizations that have incorporated this approach into their mission trip fundraising programs.

Three Organizations that Have Taken Their Mission Trip Fundraising Online

1. CARE for AIDS

CARE for AIDS is a Christian organization that works with local churches in Kenya to provide for the physical, spiritual, economic and social needs of people living with HIV/AIDS. As part of their work caring for those affected by this terrible disease, CARE for AIDS encourages its supporters to get involved by traveling to Kenya to help carry out the organization’s mission.

In keeping with the traditional mission trip fundraising model, CARE for AIDS puts the fundraising burden on the individual participant. They have broken with tradition, however, in the sense that they’ve moved this fundraising online. By empowering volunteers to seamlessly raise money through email and social media, the organization has already brought in over 100,000 for its mission trips!

2. Medical Teams International

Medical Teams International is a Christian international relief organization that provides medical and humanitarian aid as well as more holistic development programs to people in need around the globe regardless of race, sex, nationality, religion, or creed. Like CARE for AIDS, Medical Teams International offers the opportunity for volunteers to participate on the ground.

One recent work team ventured to a village in Guatemala to provide ventilated ovens and latrines to combat respiratory illnesses and diarrhea (both leading causes of deaths in children under five). To help fund the expedition, the organization made use of a micro peer-to-peer fundraising campaign, allowing individual participants to quickly spin up personal pages and raise money from family and friends.

3. Life Teen

Life Teen is an international Catholic youth organization with chapters in over 1600 different parishes in 31 countries. Mission trips are a big part of Life Teen’s programs, with the organization offering a host of different locations, both domestic and abroad, where interested youth can serve. Since adopting StayClassy in 2012, Life Teen has revamped its mission trip fundraising by setting up campaigns for each of the different mission locations and allowing participants to setup personal fundraising pages to help raise money. Not sure whether or not these fundraising pages can work? One couple raised over $27,000!

Why Online Fundraising Works so Well for Mission Trips

So why are these organizations bringing their mission trip fundraising online? And what are the advantages over more traditional methods of raising funds?

Well, it’s not so much that online fundraising is a fundamentally different way of raising money. In fact, it’s very much the same basic fundraising method that’s traditionally used for mission trips. An individual who wants to go volunteer reaches out to friends and family for contributions to help fund the journey. Pretty simple really.

Online fundraising does change a few things though. First, it makes it much easier to raise money. When sharing your request for donations is as simple as clicking a few buttons, it’s only natural that more people will follow through. Second, it allows supporters to reach a wider audience faster than they otherwise would be able to. By making sharing through email and social media incredibly simple, the individual fundraiser’s message can spread far and wide.

In many ways online fundraising is just the natural evolution of the traditional model of mission trip fundraising. So if your organization is still using pen and paper to raise money, it might just be time to make the move online!

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