I never thought in my wildest dream that I would be traveling across the globe to China with Show Hope. But when the Lord calls you to go, you listen. In November 2015, I was accepted to go on a trip with a group of Belmont students over our spring break. I had been feeling a serious tug on my heart to serve internationally for quite some time, and this opportunity presented itself.
A trip to China is not cheap. I had seen many of my friends posting GoFundMe links on their Facebook profiles to raise money for trips, and I wanted to do something a little different. (Nothing against GoFundMe, I just wanted to think a bit more creatively.)
My parents offered some support for my trip, but I wanted to raise the rest of the trip fees on my own. I knew this trip was the exact international service opportunity I had been praying for, and I wanted to do something that expressed gratitude for this chance by using my talents and skills.
In early December, with the trip coming up in the summer, I was having a conversation with a dear friend. I told her, “I am a little stressed about raising all this money for China. I want to fundraise in a unique way by using my talents, but I have no clue where to start.”
She encouraged me to verbally list my passions, talents, and skills. So I began: Health and wellness, exercise, writing, storytelling, painting, cooking healthy meals… She interrupted to say, “Kristen, just make something easy and healthy and sell it!”
Thus, the crazy idea was born:
Sell homemade, organic granola.
It seemed almost impossible at the start. How could I raise the remaining $3,000 for my trip by selling measly little bags of granola? How would I deliver all the orders? Do people even eat granola? So many doubts and insecurities almost held back my pursuit of the idea, but after serious perseverance and many hours in the kitchen baking, GRANOLA paid my way to China.
It’s still very surreal to me to think one idea flourished so wildly; that people bought enough granola to get me all the way across the world to play my part in caring for the little ones at Maria’s Big House of Hope. Trip fundraising is one of the most humbling experiences I’ve personally walked through.
Since that trip last year, I have raised funds for three more trips, and I’ve almost fully funded my second trip to China, which will happen this year. I’m in the very beginning stages of filing as a non-profit, getting my business license, and hopefully continuing “GO Granola” to fund many other international efforts in the future.
If you are raising money for a trip or a cause, I want to encourage you to pray first. I know that seems so simple, but in prayer you can find comfort and a guiding voice to lead you in directions you never dreamed of.
Next, I can offer you a few helpful tips for fundraising, and tell you what has worked well for me:
List things you like to do.
Can you build or repair something? Are you creative? Can you work a camera or create beauty on a blank canvas? Can you cook? What about candle making? Can you wash cars or host a kickball tournament in your backyard? Do you have a high-demand computer skill like coding for websites? Can you be a makeup artist?
There is a world of untapped opportunities for fundraising.
Share your ideas in conversation with friends and loved ones.
They will help you expand and perfect your plans so you can reach your goal.
Remind people why you are raising money. Continue to share your story—successes and failures. Be open and honest about your fundraising efforts, and mindfully give credit to the Lord’s provision.
Don’t get discouraged.
Raising money can feel lackluster and monotonous. It may seem like a $5 donation means nothing, and you will never reach your goal. Shut out the lies of inadequacy that doubt might feed you, and remind yourself that God works for the good of those who love him.
Those are a few of my tips. Seriously, this whole thing is a bit crazy. I have unintentionally started a granola business by fundraising for a trip. God has a sense of humor that I can’t explain, but I can tell you it will be to your benefit if you just listen to his still small voice. He will guide you towards unthinkable ideas and people who will further your journey.
You can do this!
Kristen is a Belmont student and Show Hope trip participant.