Travelling can be expensive, but there are many ways to pay for your trip abroad, such as traditional fundraisers. Crowdfunding is another way to ensure you have enough money to fund your trip, whether you’re interning or learning Chinese with us in China. To help you achieve your dream of coming to China, we’ve broken down the steps to a successful crowdfunding venture.

Crowdfunding platforms

Determining your Budget

The first step is to consider all of the costs that you may encounter on your trip. This may include your plane ticket, visa, housing, spending, etc. Hutong School students’ housing is taken care of though, so cross that off your list! On top of those, add in any personal spending on presents and souvenirs, or additional trips to other major cities or special attractions.

A basic list of costs includes:

  • Plane Ticket
  • Visa (self-paid)
  • Hutong School Fee (but no housing costs)
  • Extra spending money (any additional Hutong School weekend trip or sight-seeeing)
  • Money for meals

Check to see if there is any way for you to save a bit of money. Whether you can win a free plane ticket or earn a scholarship, anything helps! After you know how much your trip will cost, then you can begin to set up your crowdfunding campaign!

Researching the best Crowd-funding Platforms

There are many ways to present your crowd-funding venture. Using a platform, such as GoFundMe or CrowdRise is one of the best and fastest way to get your story in the public and raise money for your trip. To help you decide which platform to use, we’ve compiled some of the best crowd-funding sites.

  1. Indiegogo—a less popular, but great site to crowd fund on. Indiegogo has two plans, flexible and fixed, which is known as an All-or-Nothing plan, which means that if you do not reach your goal, then you will receive none of the donor’s pledges. The service charge is: 4% of a successful campaign, 9% of an unsuccessful campaign, and a 3% transaction fee.
    1. Pros: There is no application process or fee, and the site hosts very diverse projects. In addition, the site might feature you on the Homepage, in a newsletter, or on social media, which could help your campaign.
    2. Cons: Indiegogo is not as large of a community as some of the other sites. In addition, Indiegogo requires rewards for others’ donations, so this will have to be calculated in as an additional cost.
  2. GoFundMe—a popular site for personal campaigns, so it would suit your campaign for learning Chinese or interning in China. A campaign on GoFundMe doesn’t require a deadline or an All-or-Nothing plan, so you don’t have to worry about paying extra. However, it is best to have a campaign of around 30-50 days, as to stay motivated. The service charge is 7.9% and $0.30 per donation (GoFundMe and WePay fees).
    1. Pros: GoFundMe does not require rewards for backers, and it allows you to keep all funds raised whether you reach your goal or not. Donors can contribute the amount they choose rather than specified amounts. It is very user friendly and has great social media integration.
    2. Cons: There have been many scams on GoFundMe so some donors are hesitant. Additionally, there is no independent community, so you must share your campaign a lot to get it noticed.
  3. RocketHub—a great personal crowd-funding site that lets you keep everything you raise. That way, you can still get closer to reaching your goal. It has a service charge of 4% for completed campaigns, 8% for partially completed, and a 4% transaction fee.
    1. Pros: RocketHub is easy to navigate and offers a Success School, breaking down the entire crowdfunding process and helping you succeed. In addition, there is a large network, since Rockethub is partnered with A&E.
    2. Cons: RocketHub is a lesser known crowd-funding website, and generally has less traffic than Indiegogo. However, because of its partnership with A&E, campaigns are generally still successful.
  4. Crowd Rise—a crowdfunding site that is trusted by many well-known charities and organizations around the world. It has a 2-5% deduction for service charges, however it depends on the amount of the goal.
    1. Pros: Crowd Rise is well-known and trustworthy, which means your donors are less likely to be skeptical.
    2. Cons: Crowd Rise lacks the customization abilities of other sites. Users are not as easily able to add different graphics and show their story in detail.
  5. FundMyTravel—a crowdfunding platform specifically developed to suit the needs of individuals desiring to study or volunteer abroad. It has the most specific niche, but with this platform you are sure to be amongst others with similar interests and desires. The site allows for flexible funding meanining that users can keep all of the money that is fundraised. However, FundMyTravel retains 5% of all donations given. We’ve broken down the steps for FundMyTravel even further!
    1. Pros: FundMyTravel is easy to use and allows for international donations as well (different currencies). It uses PayPal, so transactions are easily made. It is also easily customizable.
    2. Cons: The site is primarily for travelers, making it difficult to reach a larger community. Campaigns can only be run for 120 days, and the goal cannot be changed once the campaign has launched; however, you can surpass your goal.

These 5 sites are found to be largely successful and great for crowd-funding. Of course, there are many other sites available but we found these to be extremely helpful. Once you have adequately researched and decided on a site, you can move onto the next step!

Creating Your Campaign

Depending on which platform you use, the order for creating your campaign might be different. However, there are three steps to personalize your campaign: creating a name, describing your goals, and personalizing your account.

Create a witty and funny name for your campaign, as it will attract more people. Then, write in the campaign goal (which can or cannot be changed depending on the platform), as well as a general list of fees towards which the money will go towards. Give as much information about the program as possible; people are more likely to donate when they know what the money is for.

After, write your reasons for wanting to intern or study abroad. Writing your story is perhaps the most important part of your crowdfunding campaign, as it will show your purpose and encourage people to donate. Go into detail, share an anecdote; the most important part is to be relatable. People are less likely to be willing to donate if they do not understand your reasoning, or if they cannot relate to your story. Need some inspiration? Here are some of the best reasons for studying Chinese and interning in China.

Another vital part of your story are pictures and videos. Pictures pull outsiders in and make your funding page more attractive. For example, if you’re planning on studying Chinese abroad with Hutong School, use high quality images of your experiences in learning Chinese, or pictures of China. You can also film a video, stating why you want to go abroad and learn. People are more likely to watch a video than read a long story, but it is important to have both. Embed the video or images within your story.

Publicizing and Sharing

After designing your platform and writing your story, share your campaign. Summarize your story in 1-2 sentences to use as your caption and have an eye-catching picture as the front of your campaign. Otherwise, your post may just be lost in a sea of pictures and go unnoticed. Ask friends and family for small donation or a “share” of your original post. The more people that know about your campaign, the better!

Use your social media sites carefully; try not to post on all of your social media sites at once—since chances are, your friends are mostly the same on these sites, and may get annoyed by the repetition. Happy friends and family are friends and family that donate! Plan when you’ll share your campaign in order to ensure that the most people will see it.

HTS team

As your campaign continues, update your captions to include fundraising progress. People are more inclined to donate knowing that they’ve helped you reach your goal or after they have seen others contribute. Progress updates, such as “25% of the way there!” or “10% left” can motivate people to donate, whether they have already or are first-timers. Additionally, as the end of your campaign approaches, make a final attempt to draw in supporters. Since many people are natural procrastinators, it is likely that they have the mindset of “I’ll contribute tomorrow”, and a reminder will get them moving. Try not drag your crowdfunding fundraiser out for too long, as your campaign will lose momentum towards the end.

During Your Trip

Share frequent updates with your donators, friends, and family members. Show how your experience, whether learning Chinese or interning in China, has changed or impacted your life.

Good luck with your crowdfunding campaign. We hope to see you soon!

Interested in reading more about how to fund your trip? See our other article on crowdfunding here. Want to learn more about Chinese culture and language, read our article on Chinese customs, or “10 things I wish I knew before coming to China

Cheryl Li – Marketing intern