Fundraising with Real Gap Experience: Sophie's Hints and Tips | Real Gap Experience Blog

Fundraising with Real Gap Experience: Sophie's Hints and Tips

Sophie is an expert fundraiser; she climbed Mount Kilimanjaro in 2011 and hasn’t looked back since. She has some awesome tips; it sounds like University blind date went down a storm! Check out Sophie’s blog below and find out how YOU could fundraise your way to your next adventure...

When I was in my first year at University, I signed up to climb Kilimanjaro for a charity that helped local Tanzanian communities in the foothills of the mountain. I had to raise £2200 altogether, with a group of other volunteers, in order to be able to do the climb. It was an incredibly daunting task; £2200 seemed like a huge amount of money, and I had no idea where to start.

Fortunately we were given a fundraising pack by the charity, and the internet is full of fundraising ideas, so I soon got started and the target seemed a lot more achievable. It’s amazing how small amounts add up really quickly (and also how generous people can be)! I organised street collections in my local town, and bag packing events at local supermarkets. These were some of the most lucrative, especially around Christmas time, especially once you get talking to people and tell them about what you’ll be doing.

Fancy dress is definitely the way to go when you’re fundraising – people are more likely to come up and talk to you, and once you’ve had a conversation with someone, they’re less likely to walk away without donating. Be blatant with your advertising – include the charity logo on all your posters, collection boxes etc. and more people will notice you.

Local businesses can also be incredibly generous; I organised quizzes and raffles, and armed with a letter and charity number, asked local businesses to donate prizes. They were amazing, and I came away with bottles of alcohol, boxes of chocolates, gift bags etc. – all they ask is that you give them a small mention on any leaflets etc. you do for the event.

One thing that wasn’t so successful was the car-washing event that I organised with the rest of the volunteers. The event itself was successful – we did it at the University car park and raised a couple of hundred pounds – but once we’d split that between all our targets, we only had around £30 each for a long and exhausting days’ work. I’d definitely recommend it, but recruit some friends to help you to ensure the money all goes towards your target! A pizza as a reward is much cheaper than giving up most of your hard-earned money!

The best tip I can give you is be creative, and don’t give up. Several people in my group were miles off their target with only a few weeks to go, but with a big last push (think pub quizzes, raffles and events such as University Blind Date), you’ll be amazed at how much you can make in a short period of time. Think outside the box, don’t be afraid to ask people, and above all, be passionate about what you’re collecting for. As I loved the idea of the climb, I knew lots of information which really drew people in, and it worked really well.

Although I panicked towards the end, and really wasn’t sure I would make it, and despite being so daunted at the beginning, I raised my target, and my Kilimanjaro climb was the most amazing thing I have ever done. Just remember the end goal, and all the people you’ll be helping, and it will all be worth it!

Top fundraising events:

  • Supermarket bag packing events (just contact your local supermarket and ask to book a slot. Weekends are best as they’re busier, and Marks and Spencer/Waitrose tend to be more lucrative than Aldi! Christmas slots get booked up quickly, so get in there early!)
  • Street collections – there’s a lot of paperwork needed for this, and you do need a charity number, but they are very lucrative so definitely worth it. This is where fancy dress comes into its own, especially with the help of your friends
  • Raffles – ask local businesses for prizes and include it with an event such as a quiz – at £1/strip it can be a good money-raiser
  • Put a collection pot in your local pub – even if you only get a few quid it’s better than nothing
  • Car boot sales – get rid of all your old tat and raise money into the bargain
  • Bake Sales – take cakes and buns into school/University and you’ll raise a ton!
  • Quiz nights! Rope in your local pub or SU, download some quiz questions from the internet and get advertising! Put some donation buckets around the place, get a great prize (either half the money or get a shop to donate) and charge people a couple of quid per person and you’re good to go.
  • Fancy dress! Whatever the event, fancy dress always makes you stand out (and who doesn’t want to dress up as a lion…)

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