“Help us get to Hawaii,” plead a pair of honeymooners. And a variety of folks have chipped in $2,400 for it.
“London is longing for Jesus,” writes another, and $1,070 has been donated for one woman to help bring him there, or so the implication goes.
Meanwhile, someone named Renie wants to go to Rome — that wish has brought in $730 — while another $435 has been kicked in for a woman whose “lifelong dream” is to move to France.
All the above and plenty more would-be travelers have opened campaigns on Fundly.com, one of the world’s top crowdfunding sites, to try to convince other people — be they friends, family, neighbors, or complete strangers — to donate to their travel funds and bucket list destinations.
If you aren’t familiar with the term crowdfunding, it’s really just what it sounds like: getting a crowd of other people to fund your dream, whether it’s a new start-up business, a worthy charitable cause, or, sometimes, just a trip you want to take.
The concept has been around for at least a decade, and there are now hundreds of crowdfunding platforms one can turn to around the world, led by sites like Go Fund Me, Kickstarter, and Fundly. Last year, crowdfunding became a $5 billion industry.
Each site has its own rules about what you can raise money for and what you can’t. Kickstarter, for example, doesn’t permit personal fundraising of the types that Fundly does, and is rewards-based — in other words, in exchange for your investment in a new business you hope to make an eventual profit.
Fundly, on the other hand, says CEO Dennis Hu,”is all about making contributions and donations. It’s about empowering others — building a culture, not just getting something back in return.”
(Fundly makes its own money by charging a small percentage of the money raised as its fee.)
Travel is just one of 15 different categories in which you can raise money on Fundly, but it’s the one that intrigues me the most.
Hu says that more than 2,500 travel campaigns have appeared on Fundly since it was founded in 2009, raising a total of about $2.5 million in this year alone for various trips.
The majority of the campaigns, admittedly, are for worthy causes — at least if you think of a church or charity as more worthy than just fueling your own travel ambitions.
One person has raised $5,000 for mission trips to Brazil and Turkey; another has brought in $3,055 to fund working in an orphanage in Uganda; a third has raised $1,873 to climb various South American peaks to raise money for impoverished women of the region.
The biggest single campaign was a heart-wrenching plea from the father of a two-year-old girl named Savannah who died unexpectedly. The father wanted to raise money to send another family with a little girl on the trip of their dreams — what he called “Savannah’s Stolen Moments” — in her memory. The family would be one he didn’t know but could not afford to take some “stolen moments” of their own.
The campaign, with an initial goal of $10,000, raised almost $95,000, with more than 3,700 donors; the surplus money raised beyond the trip cost was designated for a college fund for the then-unknown little girl.
Organized non-profits are also big beneficiaries. “If you count Habitat for Humanity trips as travel,” Hu says, “there have been 2,500 of those campaigns this year alone” — and over five years those traveling on behalf of Habitat have raised $6 million globally via Fundly.
But a lot of times the worthy cause is, for example, one’s parents. “One son raised $5,000 to take his father to Ireland,” Hu says, “by reaching out to his Dad’s friends and others.”
The key to raising money for any trip, Hu says, “is to build a strong story behind your trip, to build an emotional connection with potential donors,” as Savannah’s father did. “To create an initial spark,” he says, “reach out to friends and family first. Then maybe all your aunt’s friends will see it, too, and they’ll pitch in. Eventually, you may attract people you don’t know at all — if you build that emotional connection.”
Hu says that Fundly strongly encourages potential recipients to use email, Facebook, Twitter, and other social media to raise awareness of their cause.
“Be transparent,” Hu adds. “Make sure people understand where the money is going. Keep them updated, using the site. Be specific. You could say, ‘$200 will fund ten meals.'” Goals and deadlines also help. “Tell them you need X amount and have to to leave by the end of September. It lends a sense of urgency.”
Once you’re on your trip, Hu suggests, “take a photo and send it to your supporters to thank them.”
After all, there may be more trips you want to fund in the future.
For more information or to start your own campaign, go to the Fundly website.
Today’s Travel Quiz:
Recently (true story), a Danish tourist took a taxi from Denmark to Rome because he wanted to see a particular church there. How long did the journey take and how much did it cost?
A) Two days and nights, about $3,000.
B) Five days and nights, about $7,500.
C) Three days and nights, about $5,200.
D) 18 hours, about $4,000.
I’ll have the answer in my next post.