So you have an amazing idea or project, and you want to run a session at MozFest… but you’re not sure you can cover the costs of travel and lodging in London. Mozilla does offer a limited number of travel stipends for facilitators in need…. but if you’re not one of the few who received this support (or if you missed our deadline to apply), your MozFest dreams may be fading.
Don’t give up! There may be assistance and resources available that you haven’t considered — you may still get to MozFest. It might just take a bit of research, networking, and reaching out with specific asks to get the support you need. Here are a few possible sources of funding to investigate, and some tips about how to make a successful ask.
Look for support from groups or organizations, like schools, local government, or employers. If you’re working, find out if your employer has a professional development program or travel grant program that could fund your trip. If you’re a student, check with your department to see if there are grants available to support travel; student associations and groups may have funds available as well. Some cities or towns offer grants to support community-based projects; check with your local government to see if they have programs funding innovation or cultural exchange that might cover your trip. Research like-minded community-based organizations; reach out to see if they might chip in to sponsor your trip.
Pay for your trip by crowdfunding. Sites like GoFundMe, Kickstarter, IndieGoGo are platforms where you generate support for your trip; you can broadcast your ask and your story via social media to get your entire community involved. Research each platform carefully before you choose, to understand any restrictions and how any fees are calculated and charged.
Gather your community and raise funds at events or sales. While your first impulse may be to go online to get support, in-person events are always a great way to connect, grow your community, and generate funds. Your an event can be as simple as a drinks or coffee hour, or you could plan a performance or workshop to draw attendees. Be creative! You might also organize a yard sale or rummage sale to get rid of any unwanted stuff you might have around while making some cash for your trip. If you’re crafty, artistically inclined, or good in the kitchen, you might raise money selling baked goods or arts and crafts. Invite friends, family, neighbors, co-workers, casual acquaintances… why not? Everyone loves an invitation.
Tell your story. No matter how you’re raising funds, it’s important to tell a good story, so people connect with you, and feel motivated to give. Why? Jen Caltrider, Content Strategist at Mozilla and skilled storyteller, says, “Stories work because of science! People have an emotional connection to their money. To give it away is no small thing. Plus, there’s that good feeling you get when you help someone out with a donation. Guess what is scientifically proven to trigger emotions? No, not a load of super important information and facts and figures. It’s stories! Stories trigger emotions that move us. People donate because they feel an emotional connection to a persona or a cause. Stories create that emotional connection in our brain.”
Your story might include why you want to travel to the Festival, the brilliant idea or project you plan to share in your MozFest session, and how this experience might change things for you, your project, and your community. Make it personal! It can also help to bring your potential funders into the story — what do they get out of contribution to the project? A warm and fuzzy connection to your project? Special updates during the trip, and a blog post or video recap? Or will you hold a share-out event or workshop on your return, or offer another reward? A good value exchange will encourage people to chip in. Be sure to explain the costs of your trip, and how you’ll use the funds, so people understand that you plan to use their contribution well.
Don’t be afraid to ask! Many people feel uncomfortable asking for money — for cultural reasons, or because they’re shy, or they dislike self-promotion. Instead of thinking of a fundraising conversations as an imposition, or an embarrassing experience, think of those discussions as an opportunity for your potential funder. By supporting your project at MozFest, funders get to be involved with something exciting, something unique and transformative! They get a chance to be part of your MozFest adventure! And for you, fundraising is a way to share your project or idea, and grow your community of supporters, and make new professional and personal connections. It’s a win-win!
So submit that MozFest 2019 proposal today, don’t delay! Applications close August 1. And feel free to share your fundraising ideas in the comments below, or in our Gitter chat channel for potential facilitators.