Your total costs to participate in Urbana 15 will depend on your preferences and your travel arrangements, but you can expect to spend about $300 or more in addition to the registration fee. (There’s a breakdown of costs on the FAQs.) Urbana is a great value, but it’s still an investment which may have you needing to raise funds. Here are a range of ideas and resources to get you going. We’re not just talking letters, emails, and phone calls, but we’ll start with, well:
Letters and Emails
- Keep the letter short and concise. Less is more. Use these four paragraphs.
- Use the Urbana 15 header graphic from this Email Template to communicate the scope of Urbana. This also makes the letter or email look more legit.
- Include a high-quality personal picture.
- Proofread it—no typos or poor grammar.
- Send via email or print color copies and snail mail the letters. If you send them in the mail, include a stamped and addressed envelope.
- Follow up some of the letters/emails with a phone call a couple weeks later.
- Gather your thoughts beforehand. If you haven’t already written a letter, write out the four paragraphs suggested above. This will help you present yourself better over the phone without stammering or stuttering as you try to find your thoughts. Writing out your thoughts ahead of time will also help you discover more of why you want to go to Urbana and what you hope to get out of it.
- Be pleasant and friendly, but let them know early in the conversation (or voicemail) what you’re calling about. Otherwise, all your pleasantries will seem hollow when you finally get around to asking for money.
- After stating your purpose (if a real, live, person answers the phone) ask if now is a good time to talk, or if they would like to make an appointment for another time.
- Use your best judgement given all the cultural dynamics involved, but seriously consider actually asking for a specific amount of money. For some, it may be rude to directly ask for funds. For others, asking directly is appropriate. However you approach it, remember going to Urbana is a worthy cause. Asking others to donate is an invitation to join you in discerning your place in God’s global mission!
If you’re going with a group, raise funds as a group. Use communal language in your letters/emails and messages (i.e. “We’re raising funds together…”). Each person continues to raise funds until the group goal is met. Advantages: creates synergy, community, pools networks, and can be more effective for non-majority cultures.
Sell Stuff or Services
This tool allows for partnership with a wider swath of senders. Your peers, family members, or community members contribute materials and/or time. Raising funds this way gives more people an opportunity to support you and includes those who wouldn’t be able to financially contribute otherwise. What to sell?
Meal(s): These could be events where you gather your community to not only raise funds for you to go to Urbana, but also to hear more about why you want to go while they enjoy a global missions-themed dinner with authentic foods from an array of cultures.
Food items: If you or someone in your community loves to cook, raise funds by selling a particular food item. This could be as simple as a bake sale, or could be done on a larger scale like taking advance orders for homemade eggrolls.
Resale Fair: Accept donations of resalable items and hold a rummage sale on campus, making both donors and buyers aware of the purpose of the sale.
Services: This could be just about any trade you’re skilled at, from raking leaves, to painting walls. One student experienced in fashionable hair braiding styles raised funds using this skill on campus.
Ask a leader in your home church to ask if contributions could be made through a special offering. Alternatively the very active neighborhood organization or network in your neighborhood may want to support one of their own to learn at global event like Urbana.
Among all those Facebook friends are people who are truly friends who seek your best. Create a crowdfund on your favorite site (several have used GoFundMe) and let folks know you’re raising funds to participate in the one of the most life-changing events ever. (That isn’t hyperbole.) They’ll be able to get glimpses of what you are learning because you’ll be posting about Urbana anyway before, during and after the conference.
What other ideas do you have?