Tips to Fund Your Participation in an International Conference

You want to travel abroad to participate in a conference or an event, learn about a different culture, and make a difference in your local community? You have only one week of vacation time and very little in the way of savings? Here are some tried and tested ways of fundraising that are guaranteed to generate enough resources for you to afford to participate in the international conference that interests you.

Crowd-funding: Start by creating a profile on a crowd-funding website. This allows you to devise a straightforward pitch that you can then use for the rest of your fundraising campaign. On your website, share who you are, what you do, and your fundraising goal. Be specific about where and when you are travelling, what you will be doing there, and why the trip is so important to you. Be sure to make a compelling case as to why someone should give you money to travel.

Your crowdfunding campaign description is your opportunity to win over the hearts and minds of your personal network and convince your friends and family to donate to your campaign. You’ll need to appeal to your donors’ hearts by showing that you’ll be embarking on a worthwhile journey where you’ll have the opportunity to serve others and grow as a person. But, you’ll also need to appeal to their minds by clearly demonstrating that your trip is viable and realistic.

In short, you’ll need to tell a compelling story for why you’re attending, say, a Youthtime (or other) event and why you need to raise funds. Be sure to articulate clearly where you are travelling, what you’ll be doing there, what your trip expenses are, how you’ll add value to the host community, and what you expect to learn from the experience etc.

Crowd-funding websites

Some of the crowd-funding websites which help to raise funds:Fund My Travel, Kickstarter, Go Fund Me, Ketto, Wishberry, Indiegogo, Plum Fund, Mighty Cause, You Caring, Start Some Good.

Social Media

Nearly 60% of all donations received originate with social media, making social media posts the number one driver of contributions for our fundraisers. When you think about it, this statistic isn’t too surprising given that many of our friends and family members are on social media.  While you certainly want to be persistent in promoting your fundraising campaign, be sure your social media posts are positive and humble. When asking for donations, you definitely do not want to come across as entitled or overbearing! If you have friends and family members who are social media hold-outs, let them know about your fundraising campaign by e-mailing them about the Youthtime event and why you are participating. When you include travel in your fundraising efforts, your supporters have the chance to give to your cause while also enjoying an exciting vicarious travel experience. People who love to travel will love it, even more, when they know they are supporting your cause while they go on a great trip.

Employer Support

Check to see if your company or employer or school has a donation matching program. Some organisations offer dollar-for-dollar matches if you write a check to a charity. Even if your employer doesn’t offer matching gifts, reach out to your family or friends to see if their employers do. Also, many organizations have a policy for giving extra paid days off if you are going for a conference related to your work or studies. Don’t hesitate to talk with your organisation. Reach out to your network of social and professional organizations. Tell members of your book club or Rotary Club that you are fundraising for an event participation, and you will be surprised to see how readily people offer help.

Gifting Policy

Formalize a gifting policy with your friends and family. Ask your friends and family members to make financial contributions to your trip fund instead of giving gifts on birthdays and holidays. Write a letter or invitation to your friends on your birthday, stating that if they were considering buying a gift card, you would prefer that they give the same money amount as cash instead.

Use your skills or hobbies

Be an entrepreneur: Use your skills or hobbies to earn extra cash. One of my friends likes to cook and frequently invites friends over for dinner, so she decided to have a themed fundraising dinner instead. In honour of an upcoming volunteer trip to Russia, she cooked an authentic Indian dinner. She invited a limited number of guests and suggested a per plate donation. We came to learn about the trip and got to taste something new. Many of us ended up donating more than the suggested amount.

Frequent flyer miles

Ask your friends about frequent flyer miles, airline vouchers, and buddy passes to help cover the costs of your flight. Scroll through your rolodex looking for flight attendants, airline employees, consultants, and single travellers. You may know people who travel a lot for work and don’t always use the airline miles they accumulate. Ask them if they could sponsor your ticket using their miles, you can pay the taxes and fees and it won’t cost them a dime.


Partner with a local restaurant to host a fundraising dinner. Invite your friends and family and share the profits with each other.

Sharing is caring

Find any opportunity to share your story. Each fundraising strategy requires some effort and a lot of outreach. This may be the time to use all of your social media skills to get your story, events, and requests in front of people. Additionally, you may want to send personal emails to friends and co-workers, and snail mail letters to older family members. Make sure to send reminders, updates on where you stand respecting your goals, and thank you notes.


Thank your donors publicly. People love recognition, and this is your chance to give them well-deserved praise! Make it public so that everyone can see that someone has contributed to your campaign – this will help to get additional donations from others. Also, when you thank your donors, make sure to ask them to help you spread the word among their contacts as well. Always bring back souvenirs such as calendars, bookmarks, and key chains for each person who contributed toward your trip. Then send a personal note with a small token of appreciation.

Remember, the possibilities are endless, but the great opportunities are very few. Never miss any important opportunity in life which helps you to grow professionally.

Photo: Shutterstock

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