Back in 2013 I took my first overseas volunteering trip. I volunteered with SHE Rescue Home with women and young girls who have experienced sex trafficking/rape/abuse and the like. You can read more about my experience here.
Fundraising to pay for this trip was a very special experience for me. I’ve never been a super popular person with lots of friends so the idea of publicly fundraising kind of scared me. I thought of just trying to save the money I needed myself but it was too much on top of the other trip I had planned afterwards. I finally decided to start a fundraising page online in the hope I could at least raise £100-£200. But just a month or two later I had reached my target fundraising goal of £1500- it was so crazy and humbling to see how much support I had.
I first filled out my fundraising page (I used Go Fund Me) with all of the information I needed and shared it on my Facebook page where I had a few hundred friends. This got me started with a few donations from my close friends and family- I think after the first two days I had around £80 or so. Soon people started sharing my fundraising page and more and more people began to reach out to me.
One girl from my job found out about what I was doing and started working really hard to support me, and I’m so thankful for her. She first organised a fundraising party in a free location and invited all of our colleagues, selling tickets for £5 each. We then contacted local businesses asking for free donations that we could raffle off and the response was overwhelming. We sold lots of raffle tickets for the donations we received, which would be drawn on the night of the party. When that night came we raised a total of £790 altogether- over half of what I needed to go! For such a small group to raise this much money was incredible.
My colleague had also contacted our local newspaper who featured me in an article about my fundraising pledge. Nothing really came of it until I received an email one day from a lady in Manchester, England. She said she had read my story on the newspaper’s website and wanted to donate as she was super keen to support SHE Rescue Home. Fast forward a few days later and I had received a £50 cheque and a beautiful message in the mail- from a complete stranger. How incredible is that!?
I also received a lot of donations from other strangers (friends of friends/family) because they wanted to support what I was doing. So getting the word out there turned out to benefit me greatly- social media is super powerful. As well as all of this, I sold £100 worth of clothes on Ebay, got a second job cleaning and held a car boot sale, which I think raised about £70.
My grandparents were my biggest support throughout all of this. A moment I’ll always remember is when my granddad won £100 on the lottery and gave every single penny to me immediately, without hesitation. They were constantly thinking of new ways they could help, including taking their coin savings to the bank to be exchanged for notes for me.
I’m really glad that I put myself out there as fundraising turned out to be a lot of fun and it was pretty easy to raise what I needed quite quickly. It made me feel so lucky to have so much support around me. My experience made me more interested in other people’s fundraising efforts too and now I really love to help others as I was helped.