You could have the best-planned fundraiser in the world, but if the timing is wrong, it could still fall flat. So…when is the best time of year to fundraise? Check out our inside scoop. ☆ If you’re reading this, congrats for taking the first step to achieve your travel dreams: getting money to fund it! While online fundraising might seem simple enough (just create an account and start sharing your page, right?), knowing the best time of year to fundraise (aka fundraising season) can give you more off-the-chart success.
Resources like FundMyTravel’s toolkit can help with everything from creating a compelling story (after all, people need to know why they should donate!), to tips on sharing an online fundraising page effectively so it reaches more people. But no matter how awesome your fundraising ideas, whether it’s offline or online, the key to success is timing. So, when is fundraising season? When is the best time of year to fundraise? Why is timing important? We’ve got all that and more for ya right here!
The best time of year to fundraise
The best time of year to solicit donations can vary depending on your target community and more, but make no mistake: timing is everything. If you’re launching an online crowdfunding campaign, you want to start strong, since people may be more likely to donate to an established campaign that has donations coming in.
After all, would you feel more inclined to donate to page that has $0 and looks stagnant, or a page that has some contributions rolling in, and growing? It’s a chicken-and-egg scenario, but here’s a pro tip: Ask a few close friends or relatives to contribute first before advertising your page to the wider community!
Here’s a breakdown of the best time of year for fundraising events by season:
The winter months might be the best fundraising season for you, and it’s no surprise.
Non-profits receive a large amount of their year’s individual donations during the year’s end, perhaps because people are in gift-giving moods and feeling charitable. While you’re not a non-profit organization (duh), you can launch your own fundraiser during the winter months to ride this feel-good buzz. Winter might be the very best time of year to fundraise.
- Crowdsource—You’re not going to get out there and go door-to-door in the middle of a blizzard. This is where online fundraising comes in suuuuper handy. Launch your FundMyTravel page during the holiday season to boost your campaign and to avoid getting off the couch.
- #GivingTuesday—Following the shopping frenzy of black Friday and cyber Monday, Giving Tuesday is a day to donate to charitable causes. Created in 2012, the day is a global movember that “unites countries around the world by sharing our capacity to care for and empower one another”, according to the Giving Tuesday website.
There is a lot of buzz generated from Giving Tuesday, so put your page in front of people who care about the cause you’re promoting, be it volunteering abroad, teaching abroad, or fostering mutual intercultural understanding.
- Ask for donations (instead of gifts)—Instead of gifts this holiday season, ask friends or family to contribute money (or perhaps plane ticket award miles or other perks) towards your trip. If possible, start mentioning your need for donations to people early, so you can catch the folks who somehow get all of their holiday shopping done super early. Plant the seed in their minds that you don’t need anything this year, but would greatly appreciate if they could contribute to your fundraiser, instead.
With holiday shopping behind everyone, spring is a great fundraising season for many reasons, including tax returns ($$$) and a few key holidays that could help boost your campaign. Spring might just be the best time of year to fundraise for your cause.
- Tax returns—We’re talking cold, hard cash! From February to April, a nice boost in cash flow (hopefully) in the form of tax returns can result in more people who are likely to give to your cause. Get your campaign in front of people during these spring months.
- Easter—If you’re headed off on a mission trip, or just come from a family who takes Easter baskets seriously, consider using family dinner to plug your fundraising campaign (as graciously as possible, of course).
- Mother’s Day—Are you fundraising to travel for or with your mom? Or perhaps volunteering for a cause related to mothers: maternal health or community organizing? Build excitement around your campaign leading up to this day.
- Earth Day—Traveling abroad to volunteer for eco-conservation, to learn about sustainability, or for the environment? Share your compelling story with your communities who are passionate about these topics, and launch your page leading up to Earth Day!
Summer is a mixed bag. People themselves are traveling and school is out, but depending on your fundraiser theme, it may be the best fundraising season for you or the best time of year for fundraising events. Think about your close friends, family, and community events and ways you can ask for donations.
- Graduation gifts—To celebrate your commencement, ask for the gift of travel! Or, alternatively, just put all that cold hard cash you receive at your graduation party towards your fundraiser.
- Babysitting, dog-walking, ice-cream-scooping—We’re talkin’ summer part time jobs. Offer to take some time off parents’ hands around the neighborhood this summer and babysit for donations, or offer to walk some dogs. Scoop some ice cream at Cold Stone and put away the paychecks. A lemonade stand ain’t such a bad idea, huh?
- 4th of July—Host a 4th of July potluck and in your invitations and at the event, briefly ask guests to make a donation to your campaign, if they wish. However, if the 4th falls on a Friday or Monday, a long holiday weekend could also disrupt the momentum of your campaign, so be careful if you’re thinking of launching on a holiday weekend.
It’s back-to-school time but the holidays are months away. People aren’t immersed in the gift-gifting (and shopping) mood of the holiday season, which means some folks may be more inclined to send some extra money your way now!
- Rake leaves—Changing leaves means there’s a lot of yard work to be done. Round up some friends (or just yourself!) and offer to help out your neighbors for a small donation. Tell your neighbors about your page and share the link!
- International days related to your cause—There’s a lot in the fall: International Literacy Day is September 8, World Food Day is October 16, and United Nations Day is October 24. If you are traveling abroad to work or volunteer for a specific cause, you might want to plan your launch near one of these international days. Spread the word to your coworkers, university friends in certain student clubs, or other local communities related to these topics.
Fundraising season is all year round!
Fundraising season can transcend actual seasons nowadays thanks to crowdsourcing and online fundraising. If your travels involve volunteering or working abroad in a social-impact role, get your fundraising page out on day one and promote away on social media!
And even if you aren’t volunteering or working abroad for a social-impact cause, the cause of increasing cross-cultural engagement is important too. If you’re participating in a cultural exchange program with goals for promoting more global understanding, this is a great cause, and one many internationally-minded folks would likely support.
At the end of the day, you don’t want to solely base your decision off this list or one season. The best time of year to fundraise will depend on your ability to engage your own community during certain times of the year. What big events are happening in the lives of people around you during certain times of the year?
Here are some great times to fundraise, regardless of season:
- Launch during the first few weeks of the month—Life hack your way to donations by launching your campaign around many folks’ paydays.
- Launch early in the week—On the weekend, people are usually out and about, but during the week when people are back at their computers, you can launch your online page right when they’re most likely to be checking their emails or looking at their phones on the commute home.
- Your birthday—No matter what season your birthday falls in, ask for donations instead of gifts.
With a little planning, you can launch your fundraiser with excellent timing, and watch the momentum build. A little thought goes a long way, and you’ll be so glad you planned ahead! So what are you waiting for?