Once we took the decision of travelling around the world, as told in the last #MileStoneExperience, we had to choose whether to make it our private journey or rather a social project. Although deeply inside we knew from the very beginning which way we want to go, we went through several discussions to make sure it was the right thing to do. A private journey means in some sense more freedom and definitely much less effort. Being just a traveller you still can use couchsurfing or workaway, having great experiences based on exchange. A social project requires more work, but also gives more contacts, it's a better option to find financial support, and – most importantly – it contributes to better the world. The truth is that without a purpose even travelling becomes hard and boring with time. I don't think that as private travellers, without the social goal we attach to it, we would be able to stay on the way for such a long time.
Once we decided to go for social impact we started to discuss ways we could get money to start with. We tried with sponsors, quite unsuccessfully. Some years before, when Anna went to Kilimanjaro, sponsors where still excited to support travellers; when we started our journey in 2015 it was not so anymore. Crowdfunding, though, was still quite a new and not hackneyed tool for raising funds.
In crowdfunding, instead of asking one sponsor for big money, you ask many people for a small financial contribution, often offering something back. There are many crowdfunding platforms, and even more articles which compare them, suggesting which to choose depending on the purpose of your campaign, the audience you want to reach, etc. We used two of them, one Polish [https://polakpotrafi.pl/projekt/how-to-exchange-the-world] and one international [https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/897361053/how-to-exchange-the-world]. Later on, we moved to zrzutka.pl, which allowed us to have both Polish and English description in one place [https://zrzutka.pl/xwb8jv]. In this one you can still support us if you wish. ;)
Why do we write a #MileStoneExperience about crowdfunding? Because it forced us to speak out loud about our project. Just writing down your idea in a platform is definitely not enough to get money. You need to go out to people, speak to them, be very active both online and offline, trying to show why your project is worth to support. It's not easy. It's not easy to tell everybody about your dreams, it's not easy to ask for money, it's not easy to keep bold when negative comments come - and they inextricably come. Even if they are just few, they can seriously undermine your self-confidence. You need to believe unquestionably in your own project, you need to be 100% sure that it's an awesome idea, it will have an impact and that it is your true call. Otherwise, you will never convince other to support you. The point of the project is all in all less important than the passion you put into it. People support those who believe in what they do.
Crowdfunding is a difficult exam to pass, especially nowadays, as it became quite popular. Beside money, it gives you some very important gains. First of all, a community. People who support you, even with just one euro, they sort of co-own the project. They follow you on your journey. And there is nothing more important than a community in whatever you do. Secondly, crowdfunding allows you to check your idea - especially if it is a business -, to see if it convinces people. If few people backs it, maybe it still requires some polishing before entering the market. Thirdly, crowdfunding really forces you to think your idea through, and to spread out to reach more people, more media, more possible links. Thanks to our crowdfunding we got not only money for tickets, vaccinations and visas, but also great contacts and a few interesting collaborations.
To sum up, crowdfunding is an awesome tool to get different kinds of resources. But it is really challenging. For us that was the moment of coming out, the point of no return.