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The Challenge

Fundraising is recognised as being a major element of taking a gap year.  Raising enough money to meet your needs while you are on your gap year placement and/or travelling independently is seen as part of the challenge.  It is not easy but each year tens of thousands manage to meet their target, which shows that it can be done.  It takes time, energy, determination and planning.  When you reach your target you will experience a great sense of achievement and personal satisfaction.  Subsequently you will be able to draw on your fundraising efforts to demonstrate certain skills such as research, written and verbal communication and negotiating skills as well as dogged determination.  Here are ten tips to help you get started.

1. Planning

Start planning early.  Try to give yourself at least six months but really the earlier the better.  Work out how much money you need to raise. Make a plan: set yourself targets to raise a certain amount each month.  Break the total amount down into specific chunks so that you can ask for a specific amount to cover an item such as your air fare, insurance, clothing, part of your gap year placement etc.

2. Get a Job

This is recognised as the best way to raise money.  Remember you are seeking work for a purpose - to fund your unique gap year.  This should make it easier for you to take on even the most menial of jobs provided it pays.  It should also help you find the energy to take on two jobs or more if that is what is needed to fulfil your ambition.  The more qualified you are the more likely you are to find a better paid job, especially office work.  So if you are offered training then grab it.  There are a number of organisation that offer training that is specifically designed to help school leavers gain valuable office skills that will be useful on your gap year, at university and subsequently improve your employability.

3. Hold and Event

Plan an event around something you enjoy or hobbies.  Events such as barn dances and sporting events have helped many previous gappers raise significant amounts.

4. Local Organisations

Approach your local Rotary Club, Lions Club and Women's Institute etc.  Seek support from your school and organisations you have worked for.  In each case offer to give them a talk now on what you plan to do and to a second talk on what you achieved and learned on your return.

5. Grant Giving Bodies

Make contact with grant giving bodies in the local area.  Research and write to grant making trusts and charities.  The Directory of Grant Giving Trusts published by the Charities Aid Foundation is an excellent source of information and should be available in the reference section of your local library.  The charitable objects or aims of these trusts vary so look at every possible angle that applies to you - your home town/city/county, young people, sport, conservation, education, child care and your destination country are all examples of where these trusts can apply their funds.

6. Your gap year provider

Some Year Out Group members have their own charitable trusts that they can draw on to help individual participants fund their placements.  How the money from these funds is allocated varies from organisation.  It is a good idea to ask your chosen provider if it has such a fund and if whether you might be eligible.

7. Family and Friends

Mobilise your family and friends.  Get them involved in your fundraising activities.  Ask them to put you in touch with potential sponsors.

8. Create "Brand Me"

Make sure all your contacts on any social network sites know about and are kept up to date on your gap year plans.  Prepare a leaflet about yourself and your plans that can be sent out with your letters to potential sponsors.  Consider creating your own website.  Provide information on the project, what you hope to achieve for others and for yourself.  The more you know about the project the better you will be able explain how your involvement will make a difference.  Don't exaggerate; tell the truth as you know it.  When seeking publicity, concentrate on local press and radio and try to find an interesting angle.

9. Variety

Use a variety of methods to help you get your message across and to make contact with potential sponsors.  Make sure all your written material is well drafted, i.e. good syntax, spelling and punctuation, and addressed to a specific, relevant person.  Follow up letters and e-mails with a telephone call.  Arrange a meeting if at all possible.

10. Keep in Touch

Keep in touch with your supporters, sponsors and donors during the preparation phase, while you are on your gap year and when you return.  Offer to provide them with a report or to give a talk on your experiences when you are back home.  Write a personal thank you to everybody who helped you.  It may be that you will need their help again and if not you then someone else from your school or college may be looking for help next year.  If a sponsor feels appreciated then there is a greater likelihood of their offering support again.

Final Thoughts

Remember you are not alone in this.  Most people who take a gap year have to raise all or part of the money.  Experience suggests that those that have had to fund themselves are more committed to their projects and as a result reap greater benefits from the experience.  As mentioned at the start, each year thousands of people taking a gap successfully raise thousands of pounds to fund their gap year plans.  The rewards of fundraising are worth all the hard work and it doesn't have to stop when you leave on your gap experience as you can continue to fundraise via online tools such as Justgiving Crowdfunding