Interview with Successful FundMyTravel Campaigner – Amy Abrigo

Amy Abrigo performing in The Book Club Play at Villanova University.

We were lucky enough to be able to interview one of our most successful campaigners, Amy Abrigo. Amy isn’t only successful because she reached her FundMyTravel goal once, she has actually created and reached her goal for 3 different campaigns using the FundMyTravel platform! Her 4th campaign has only been live for a month and is already 82% funded, which you can view and donate to Fly Amy to the Abbey Theatre in Ireland. 

Amy caught our eye because of her story, the great campaigns she has ran, and her motivation to reach her goal. Read her interview below and find out just how she is able to get the donations needed to fund her travels!

How did you find out about FundMyTravel?

I was made aware of FundMyTravel by Reynolds Whalen when I was accepted into a program to study at RADA in London during the summer of 2016 through Performing Arts Abroad.

You have 4 FundMyTravel campaigns, 3 of which are already completed and were all successful! Congratulations!!  How did you make that happen, and keep on getting your friends and family to donate to your campaign?

I utilized all of my resources: social media, email, letter writing, in person discussion, phone calls, etc. to let people know I was campaigning and asked them personally to share their support. The best results came from personalized letters or emails. General emails with the same information never really got the job done, but if I printed out a formal letter to an individual using their name and included a handwritten note as well as a handwritten signature, that really helped my results. I also did my best to explain why those programs were important to me, vital to my life experience and once in a lifetime opportunities. If someone had successfully donated to a campaign previously, I wrote them a personalized email mentioning how they had supported me in the past and how I appreciated them taking the time to consider supporting me once again in this endeavor. I tried to have a lot of fun with donor rewards!

We want to hear from you! What advice do you have for our fundraisers to help them reach their goal?

Utilize all of the amazing sources available to you: social media, email, texting, phone calls, in-person, letter writing, etc. to share your campaign. Start small with those closest to you and really explain why this is so important to you. Ask someone directly to help get your campaign started by making the first contribution. Get the ball rolling early! It is great to have a big wave at the beginning of the fundraising process so that your letters sent out a week later can say things like “Thanks to supporters like you, my campaign is 82% funded!” People love to see that others are supporting you and might take it as a challenge (especially if you have competitive relatives)!

Even if people don’t claim them, I think it is a lot of fun to have great donor rewards that are personalized to your talents in order to get people excited about donating. For example, I really enjoy arts and crafts, so I offered to draw a picture for supporters who give a $10 donation. I had one friend ask if they could have a picture per $10 they donated and I ecstatically agreed. For another campaign, I offered a personalized coloring page for $20 donors and did my best to find a coloring page online that best matched their personality or their interest. Then, I promptly sent it to them with a personalized note. If you’re lucky (or if you ask specifically for them to do so) some donors will post an image of their thank you coloring page on social media once they’ve received it to help spread more awareness about your campaign.

Clear organization and structure is also helpful. If you are able to provide a specific budget for the program outlining all of your expenses and then specify how you are funding your trip through other methods other than donations that is really helpful. No one wants to pay for your entire trip, but if you mention you earned a scholarship or are applying for one or an internship or a fellowship and you already set aside X amount of money by working extra hours and setting aside earned income, I think people understand how much this means to you and how you are doing everything you can to make this dream a reality.

Give people multiple ways to donate AND TELL PEOPLE WHAT THEY ARE! First of all, some people prefer to give stuff instead of money, so make a wish list for your trip on Amazon and include the link in all of your emails and on FundMyTravel! Make sure you include an area on all of your communications explicitly saying how to donate and outlining all of the different methods. For example:

How To Donate:

Above all: don’t be afraid to ask! You never know if someone is willing to support you financially until you ask. I was surprised at some of the names that appeared in my donor list.

Were you satisfied with how the platform supported you?

Yes. I do wish there were less fees as I lose about 10% of income made on FundMyTravel, but I really appreciate how easy it is to utilize the website and campaign.

How did you stay motivated during your campaign?

There really is no way for this trip to be possible without contributions so I have to give it all I can to make these things a reality. I needed help so I sought it. If there was a lull in my campaign income flow I tried to think: “What else can I do? Are there other people I haven’t thought about yet? Have I written everyone a personalized email or letter with their name instead of a generic canned message? Did I send all my donors personalized thank you notes via email and in the mail? Have I made shout outs on Facebook?”

What was your favorite FundMyTravel campaign that you created and why?

My current campaign, Fly Amy to the Abbey Theatre in Ireland! is my favorite because I am building this campaign just after completing a Master’s Level Fundraising class at Villanova University. I feel like I am really able to see how the things I have learned in the classroom have helped me be a more successful fundraiser. I also feel so blessed to have so many friends, family members and co-workers who support me and believe in me enough to donate their money, time, skills or knowledge to me. For example, I wanted to apply to a fellowship to help fund this program and two of my professors offered their time, skills and expertise to give me feedback. When I wanted to also apply for a scholarship, several of my friends offered to read through my scholarship application drafts and give me valuable feedback. I feel really proud of this campaign and I feel so supported by others.

How does this experience affect your future?

Amy Abrigo working in the Costume Shop at Villanova University as a graduate student.

Villanova’s 2019 Irish Theatre Summer Studio in Dublin and Galway, Ireland will allow me to earn necessary course credits and separately complete the primary research for my required thesis project, provisionally titled: Understanding the Perception of Women on the Abbey Theatre Stage Through the Lens of Costume Design 1904-1914. This program will also allow me to study at one of the most renowned theatres in the world, the Abbey Theatre.

As a future artistic director interested in global partnerships, I believe Villanova’s Irish Summer Studio would give me the opportunity to make professional networking connections at the Abbey Theatre. These relationships will be built not only with the faculty onsite, but also with other graduate students from Villanova and other universities around the world. As a student seeking a Certificate in Nonprofit Management, I am interested in learning how the Abbey Theatre grows and maintains its relationships with universities and theatre companies around the globe. I am also interested in studying how a national theatre functions, what purpose it serves to its nation, and how a national theatre model can or cannot be replicated in the United States of America.

Academically, this program gives me the opportunity to gain a basic knowledge of Irish Theatre History and the importance of the Abbey Theatre in shaping that history. Through my studies, I hope to learn more about prominent Irish playwrights, gain additional acting experience, and build my knowledge of and experience in new play development. Outside of the classroom, this program will give me the experience of living and studying abroad for an extended period of time and demonstrate what knowledge and open-mindedness develops when attempting to adjust to a culture or a home that is not your own.

Villanova’s Irish Summer Studio also includes a trip to the National University of Ireland, Galway (NUI Galway), which houses the Abbey Theatre Digital Archive. This archive is bursting with newly digitized primary sources to which scholars have not previously had access. Among those sources are hand-drawn costume designs dating back to when The Abbey Theatre was founded in 1904. I intend to use these designs as primary resources for my thesis project. This is truly a once in a lifetime opportunity and I must take advantage of Villanova’s relationship with the Abbey Theatre to participate in this incredible program.

Why is travel important to you?

I believe travel can demonstrate what knowledge and open-mindedness develops when attempting to adjust to a culture or a home that is not your own.

 Do you have more FundMyTavel Campaigns planned for the future?

Not currently. Only time will tell.

Is there anything else you would like to share?

This is the only opportunity for me to apply for the Irish Summer Studio and it is the only time I am eligible for both Villanova’s Graduate Summer Research Fellowship ($3,000) and the Tony Ponturo Experiential Learning Scholarship ($2,000). I am also applying for an internship with the Abbey Theatre before the program, which would provide a stipend for living expenses. By working extra hours and setting aside earned income, I plan to save $1,073 for the trip. I have already raised $1,580 in donations utilizing FundMyTravel, PayPal, Venmo, email, letter writing, and social media. This opportunity will cost a total of $7,880. I am seeking $1,719 from supporters like you! Thank you for your consideration to join others in supporting my studies in Ireland.

How To Donate:

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Comments (3)

Thank you so much!

Thank you, Amy! And good luck on your campaign!

Your blog provided us with valuable information to work with. Each & every tip of your post is awesome. Thanks a lot for sharing. Keep blogging,

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