Marie Chasse’ Fundraising Tips For Preparing Volunteers

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How has your fundraising experience been so far? How have you felt throughout this journey?

It’s definitely been a challenge. By going door-to-door, I’ve faced a lot of rejection, but I’m also determined. In 5 hours I raised $150, which I think is pretty good.

I also held a bake sale in the lobby of the building I work in. The bake sale was definitely a good learning experience in terms of planning and in learning what sells well and what doesn’t. I was fortunate that I had someone help me with baking, which is another recommendation of mine. If you’re going to do a bake sale, make sure you have a helping hand. Overall, the bake sale was a good start given that I raised $312 for one day.

If you could offer 4 tips to preparing volunteers or to those who are interested in going on a YCI project, but are intimidated by the fundraising target, what would you say?

1. You can’t be intimidated. I was hesitant to do door-to-door, but it really helped me to learn how best to convey what YCI does. Being fully informed of the organization made me sound professional and in turn, people were more trusting of me and wanted to donate.

2. Think strategically about whether you can host one big event or do a couple of small-scale soliciting activities. There are pros and cons to both. For instance, with a big event you may fundraise more by having a company in your community sponsor your event, but large-scale events can be overwhelming and a bit out of your control. So in taking this into consideration and also considering your time availability, a series of small-scale initiatives may be more effective.

3. Remind yourself of your main purpose of volunteering with YCI. Frequent check-ins with yourself will help you remain focused on the larger goal. For me, I know I’m looking forward to doing what I can to strengthen youth and communities abroad. So, I remind myself of this to keep focused on reaching my fundraising target.

4. Ask your family and friends to donate! This can be great practice for when you eventually solicit donations from other community members and it helps you to learn what content is most effective in gaining donations. For example, with family and friends, I emphasized that volunteering with YCI will have an impact on my career development.

Going forward with your fundraising, what do you plan on doing?

I am going to continue with going door-to-door for 5 hours every weekend or every other weekend. In addition, I am going to have two more bake sales and encourage my family and friends to garner donations from their coworkers.

– Marie-France Chasse, Preparing Youth Ambassador Volunteer for Costa Rica

Fundraising Tip #2: Say Thank-You!

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Gratitude is always in style. Before you kick off your campaign, think about how you will say thank-you. The manner in which you thank your donors says a lot about you, your professionalism, and can even help you gain more sponsors!

Always remember the 3-step thank-you!

  1. Personally thank your donor
  2. Publically thank your donor (unless they want to remain anonymous)
  3. Hand write thank-you cards or e-cards

Step 1:

If someone donates to your fundraising campaign, first and foremost contact him or her personally by phone or in person to thank them for their contribution. Personal methods of contact show that you appreciate their individual support and also gives you the opportunity to tell them more about what their contribution is helping you achieve.

Step 2:

Thanking your donors is an opportunity to provide your fundraising campaign with more publicity! Don’t be afraid to flaunt your success and gratitude all at once. A public thank-you to your donor through a Facebook post, Tweet, or other method of social media is a great way to show your gratitude as well as link potential donors back to your fundraising campaign.

Step 3:

Call me old fashioned, but receiving a card rather than a bill in the mail is always exciting. Better yet, if you are creative, you can design a thank-you card that reflects your project! It’s up to you whether you write your thank-you cards before or after you go on your project, but I think writing them after is a great way to tell your donors how amazing your experience was and that without their support it would never have become a reality!

Your Fundraising Guru, Ali Jenkins

Explore, Dream, Discover.

Verge Magazine, North America’s premier magazine for exploring opportunities to study, work and volunteer abroad, has started a new section on their website for Blogs From the Field. Readers can find out what it’s really like to live abroad – from people who are doing it. Youth Challenge International volunteers are some of those voices. Below is a short excerpt from Andrew O’Dea’s blog, as he prepares for an 8-week project in Guyana:  

When I describe my plans for the summer to people here, they all approach the topic the same way, “Wow! Really? That’s so interesting! Aren’t you anxious?” The world is definitely a big and scary place, although it has never given me reason to be anxious. Of course, the proper precautions need to be addressed, but it is not in my nature to sweat the small stuff. I see this as a rare and special opportunity, and am going into it with little expectations because I know that I’ll come out of it with more than enough knowledge, appreciation, humility and many other things that are not store-bought.

For this reason, I acknowledge Twain’s words. This project is sure to be no walk in the park, but I am eager to see what twists and turns lie ahead. By keeping this little mantra in mind, the limits of this experience are boundless.

To read Andrew’s complete blog on Verge click HERE . For the other YCI contributors to Verge (such as our CIDA intern, Camaro West), click HERE.

Thanks Verge Magazine for sharing our volunteers’ experiences. 

KFROGS Day for Global Change

Kaileigh French had a passion for helping others and had plans to volunteer on an 8-week project in Guyana with Youth Challenge International (YCI). Shortly, after she began fundraising for her mission, she was diagnosed with cancer and had to postpone mission. Kaileigh lost her battle in June 2007. The Kaileigh French Reaching Out Globally Society (KFROGS) group was formed in memory of Kaileigh in August of 2007.

KFROGS’ vision is to see more young Nova Scotians volunteering and learning in countries around the world. Their mission is to host an annual community event to raise funds to help sponsor young people in Nova Scotia who dream of reaching out globally, and helping others by volunteering on a mission. Each year recipients from Nova Scotia who have applied with a registered, recognized organization for a volunteer mission and have been accepted, may apply for the “Kaileigh’s Kindred Spirit Award”, which is an ongoing financial award.

Past participants in the KFROGS Day for Global Change!

On June 10th, 2012, I will take part in the annual KFROGS Day for Global Change Event. One of the highlights of this event is the 5 & 10k Legacy Run, where I will take on the 5k. I have paid my registration fee and have been collecting pledges to help raise funds for the Kaileigh’s Kindred Spirit Award, as all participants are encouraged to do. All proceeds from this event go directly to local youth on a volunteer mission.

In September 2011, I embarked on a 3-month journey to Ghana with YCI to acquire field placement experience for my graduate studies in International Project Management. While I was in Ghana I worked closely with the YMCA Vocational Institute and Youth Empowerment Synergy building capacity within the two organizations, and organizing and implementing education campaigns and events. Traveling across the globe to help others and lend a hand was always a dream of mine, and with the support of KFROG I was able to make that dream a reality.

To learn more about KFROGS, their events and initiatives, and whether you are eligible for KFROG funding, check out their

-Melissa Spencer, Youth Ambassador, Ghana 2011, Recipient of funding from KFROGS. 

If you would like to support KFROGS and their efforts to provide young Nova Scotians the opportunity to volunteer overseas, click HERE to donate!

Help YCI Go the Extra Mile with Aeroplan!

Youth Challenge International (YCI) has recently been accepted into the Aeroplan Charitable Pooling Program, wherein YCI can actively solicit Aeroplan Mile donations for a one-month period each calendar year. Help YCI go the extra mile! Given YCI’s commitment to achieving meaningful development results, YCI will launch our first ever Aeroplan Mile Recruitment Drive as part of the Charitable Pooling Program to correspond with International Development Week, which commences on February 6th. YCI will solicit Aeroplan donations from February 6th to March 4th, 2012.

Youth Challenge International has a long tradition of promoting youth innovation to drive positive change. Building on over 20 years of experience, YCI programs are designed to meet the needs of youth affected by poverty through four integrated sectors: livelihoods, health, leadership and the environment.

YCI’s dedicated youth volunteers implement substantive youth development programs in coordination with local youth and partner organizations in Ghana, Tanzania, Costa Rica, Guatemala and Guyana. More than 31,000 hours were contributed by volunteers to global development programs last year and more than 10,000 young people directly benefited from YCI programs.

Why Donate? 

  • You feel like spreading some goodwill
  • You want to use your Aeroplan Miles to fund meaningful travel to support youth development projects
  • You want to help youth
  • You believe that young people have a meaning contribution to make to international development

What are you going to do with my Miles?

Donated Aeroplan Miles will be used for staff travel to partner locations in order to implement ongoing monitoring and evaluation activities. YCI will also use Aeroplan Miles to enable outstanding young volunteers to travel overseas to donate their time to help build communities and leaders through global youth development.

Click HERE to get your Charitable Pooling Pledge Form now! 

Meditari- To Meditate

This blog was originally posted at

One of the many fantastic views in Guyana

It has actually arrived. In all my travels, I have always found that the strangest thing was the actual arrival of the time to leave on the trip that I’ve spent so long planning. I was accepted as a YCI volunteer in early August, spent the whole fall fundraising, left Canada early to visit my family in Trinidad, and now the time to leave for Guyana draws near.

I spent my last couple of weeks in Canada shopping for this trip (personal gear, workshop and teaching supplies, house supplies) – the dollar store became my new best friend! I also discovered  that some government departments have free documents that you can order from them. For example, I got food guides and nutrition posters from Health Canada. My idea is to use them in a health related workshop, so hopefully we have one :)

As I spend the last few days relaxing before I gallivant over to South America, many thoughts have been harassing my poor brain. So, what do I think volunteering in Guyana will be like? Well, it certainly won’t be a walk through a manicured city park, that’s for sure.  I expect lots of difficulties and a huge need for patience.  I also do not expect to see long term impacts of our contributions but that will just be a lesson in learning to appreciate daily “in the moment” things and achievements. I also think that “adaptation” will be the Sesame Street word of the day, everyday: adapt to heat/humidity, adapt to giant spiders and fish with teeth, adapt to a new culture, adapt to living with three virtual strangers, adapt to being the centre of attention, etc. As an introvert, many of those adaptations will be hard but there are ways to keep my sanity (for example, I will have to find a tree to hide under for some quiet solo time). Another thing that I think will require adaptation is that privacy will be MIA for those three months!!

There are many other things that I expect from this experience. They range from developing the skill to create educational yet engaging workshops to becoming proficient at river bathing. I also expect to learn leadership skills, how to make a yummy paratha, to further develop my photography skills, and to learn how to hand wash laundry in a river.

But in the end, I think it is important to approach overseas volunteering with an open mind and little expectations. Have goals, yes, but keep them a little flexible! I fully expect to learn some of the things I mentioned but also some things that I haven’t even thought of right now! As for fears, my only fear right now is that I’m not sure I brought enough memory cards for my camera.. Seriously. The world may as well end if I run out of memory cards…

-Kendra Seignoret, Youth Ambassador, Guyana 2012

Kendra is a Youth Ambassador who will be arriving in Guyana this Monday. She will be maintaining her blog as best as possible in the field. One of her fundraising initiatives has been to sell her photography online as greeting cards, which you can check out at .  For more information on what the Guyana teams have been up to, please check out the Guyana category for more posts. 

Preparing for Tanzania: Matt Leslie

Ever wonder what type of preparations a volunteer goes through before heading overseas on project?

Matt Leslie has been keeping a fantastic blog about his experiences preparing for his 6-week project in Tanzania this summer. From fundraising initiatives (50/50 draws, bake sales and more!) to packing lists to learning about the state of affairs in Tanzania, this incredibly informative blog is well worth reading. If you are thinking about volunteering with YCI, this is great source of information! We’re excited to follow Matt through his time on project!

Matt Leslie running a 50/50 draw for himself and team member Jessie Flear to raise funds for YCI

“Its scary to think that in less than 80 days I’ll be the furthest away from home that I’ve ever been!  It seems like absolutely no time has passed since I first thought of applying to this program, and now I am over halfway through my fundraising. While I’ve made some excellent progress, I still have  a TONNE of work to do to prepare myself (not to mention finish writing my thesis and eventually defending it!).

While procrastinating the other day, Jessie (another volunteer going on project with YCI to Tanzania) and I looked over the list of supplies we’ll need to bring.  There were a tonne of items on the list (malaria pills, headlamps, water, aspirin, mosquito nets to name a few).  Most of the items I had already thought of, but some of the clothing items gave us a bit of a wake up call.

If I asked you for some advice on what to pack, what would you suggest?

Probably suggest similar things to what I was thinking: T-shirts and shorts.  Our guidelines suggested a  little differently ….

-Matt Leslie, Preparing Youth Ambassador, Tanzania 2011

Click here to donate to Matt’s fundraising campaign.

Want to learn more about YCI’s preparing volunteers? Check out the volunteer preparation category. Want to get some great fundraising ideas? Learn what YCI’s volunteers are doing by checking out our fundraising category.