A blast from the past

A few weeks back, the Choose a Challenge gang was lucky enough to have a surprise office visit from Megan Chan, one of our past trekkers who just summited Mt. Kilimanjaro in May. While she was here, we sat down and chatted about her experience with Choose a Challenge and fundraising for WaterAid America.

How did you get involved with Choose A Challenge?

My team leader posted somewhere in a Ramapo Facebook group and, after looking into the program, I ended up attending an information meeting. Once I heard more about it in person, I just decided to go for it because the trip looked incredible and I also got to take part in it for a good cause too. It's also not like I was going solo—It was a group thing—and even though I knew I wouldn’t know everyone going, it was a great opportunity to get to know people, their habits and tendencies, in a unique setting.  

What led you to ultimately sign up?

I like the idea of combining adventure & service and Choose a Challenge does exactly that. I did a bunch of research before I made my final decision and Choose a Challenge has a great reputation and history of safety, that made it a lot easier for me to trust them. I also got to meet one of their representatives too and that personal touch went a long way for me.

How were you able to make people aware of your fundraising efforts?

Reading through the WaterAid and Choose a Challenge websites helped prepare me for my fundraising. I had a lot of knowledge to share and I feel the more you know about the cause you’re supporting, the better. In terms of spreading the word, I sent messages on Facebook, spoke to people in person, and sent thank you notes to anyone that donated.

What methods of fundraising did you find were the most effective in getting you closer to your goal?

I spent a lot of my time messaging people directly. That was what I found was the most effective way for me to reach people individually. I also did plenty of posting on social media, especially around the holidays. In addition, I set myself a firm deadline of new years day as my goal to complete my fundraising by and it worked!

Were there any fundraisers, in particular, that were the most helpful?

Online crowdsourcing was how I found most of my fundraising success. My team didn’t take part in many group events together, so individually was the best way for me to go in my opinion. Like I mentioned before, it is important to take advantage of the holiday months. It’s a lot easier to ask for a donation then as opposed to a standard gift and people tend to be more willing to donate at these times of the year.

How was your experience working with your Choose a Challenge and charity representative?

Both representatives were very supportive, especially my Choose a Challenge representative, they were the most responsive and gave me the most info. I had no issues with either.

What would you say were the biggest challenges you faced fundraising?

When I was trying to get started, I didn’t know what to do. Should I sell something,? Should I table? It’s difficult to know how to get started. Also getting used to asking people for money, especially students who don’t have the same resources as adults, is challenging, but in the end you get used to it and no amount donated isn’t helpful.

For the other students that are fundraising this year, what are your biggest tips/suggestions for them to be successful?

  • Start early.

  • Read up on what you’re doing and why you’re doing it.

  • Be open to meeting new people.

  • Be comfortable stepping outside of your comfort zone physically and emotionally.

Overall, including fundraising, your trek, and everything in between, what was your favorite part of your experience?

Going on the trip you surprise yourself, once you get there you’re like “this is real, I’m doing this.” And you get to share that experience with a lot of people with a similar drive too.

You’ve recently applied for a Congressional Award, how has your experience with us impacted your decision to apply for that award?

At first, the applying seemed so daunting that I wasn’t acting on it, but then once I did the Kilimanjaro challenge I thought it would be something I could include in my application.

How were you able to able to explain to donors that you were fundraising for both your trip costs and WaterAid?

Because the page we were crowdsourcing on explained how this worked and how it was helping both myself and the charity, complete with stories. WaterAid was very helpful providing stories and updates so donors knew where their money was going too.


For more fundraising and trekking stories from our past and current trekkers be sure to check out the rest of our blog.