Logistics of collecting school funds for a teenager who will otherwise be married off
November 12, 2011 3:37 PM   Subscribe

I am putting together a donation webpage, trying to raise tuition for a young woman in Nepal, and am looking for suggestions on the best way to go about it.

Hi there, I am working to raise funds for a young woman in Kathmandu so that she can continue with her schooling instead of having to enter an arranged marriage once she turns 18 (which is in about six months).
(Previous question about the student...)

I have a few questions on the best way to do this, and they break down to these:

How (where) best to set up the page? I've heard good things about SquareSpace, and it seems like it would be easy to get a nice, professional-looking page pretty quickly.

I could of course also go the Tumblr route, which might give it more of a “regularly updated” feel—although other than when I call to check-in with her, the updates might just being something like a (kind of unrelated*) photo I have taken in Nepal along with a comment like
“Big thanks for the most recent contributions from Jean in Falls Church, Alex in Seattle, and Molly in Portland!
You’ve helped Barsha move up to x% of her goal!”
(and of course, I could do these updates on the SquareSpace page as well)

I figure that the page will mostly just be text (with an explanation of the situation and the goal), with perhaps a few snippets of photos interspersed in to add color and a sense of the student and her surroundings. (you can see a mockup here (BIGGER)).

[*For privacy’s sake—especially now with the proliferation of Facebook in Nepal—I don’t want to post any full photos of the student herself.]

At the top and/or bottom, I figured I’d also include links such as “About Me”, FAQs, and an “Ask Me Anything” (to answer any questions a possible contributor might have beforehand).

Processing donations:
It sounds like PayPal would be the easiest way to go (for contributors), although I’m open to other suggestions if you have any. Once collected, any funds received would be transferred to a separate bank account from which the money would be transferred directly to the school in Kathmandu (or a small portion to the student if it were needed for some non-school-billable incidental items).

My only real question in this area is about any taxes that would presumably be due on the funds raised (I am hoping to eventually raise up to $6,000 for her studies). Can the tax-hit be lessened in some way—like if I have the funds go directly from PayPal to the school in Kathmandu (that is, my "hands" never touching it)?

The name of the site:
I’ve jotted down a bunch of words that might find their way into the name

school, education, project, help, sponsor, send, future (holds), hope, bohini (which means “little sister” in Nepali), little sister, girl, young woman, 17, teenage, teenager, marriage, childhood, wife

And here are a couple URLs I’ve thought of:

thefutureshehopesfor aneducationforbohini whatthefutureholds littlesisterdecides projectbohini

Finally, there is
Spreading the word:
Here are some ideas I’ve come up with for how to get the word out.

• Posting about it on my Facebook account so my contacts learn about it.
• I’ve had a couple of shows in the past of photos that I have taken during my times in Nepal. I thought I might drop the people who had attended an FYI kind of email.
• Probably in the next couple of months I'll have a showing of new Nepal photos and I figured I could include information as part of my Artist's Statement.
• Maybe put a notice on Reddit(?)

What would YOU most like to see (or find most interesting) on a page such as this? What might make you return to the page to check back (even if you couldn't afford a donation)? Stories about the recipient? Snippets of interesting Nepal history? Photos taken in the area? Slice-of-life snippets? I could also post any questions submitted along with my answer (people asking about their donation, or anything else). I figure updates could be any of these, and then finishing each entry with a small donation link for the student... but what are your thoughts/opinions?

Okay, I think that's all of the questions I had.
Thank you very much in advance for any and all suggestions!
posted by blueberry to Computers & Internet (3 answers total)
blueberry, have you looked at tiptheweb? I don't think it would be a substitute for PayPal, but it allows people to donate a bit of money without leaving your webpage. They can also fund a tip later on, so if they're waiting to get paid before they donate, they can still leave a tip (which you will receive after they fund it).
posted by mekko at 4:09 PM on November 12, 2011

My school just raised money for an injured student using GiveForward.com. I'm not one of the organizers, so I can't speak to that end, but as a donor I found the system & site easy to use.
posted by BlahLaLa at 4:44 PM on November 12, 2011

How about setting up a blog? That's a nice simple way to create a website and I think it would work with the mock-up content you made (which is very nice btw).

Then you could create a Twitter feed and if you had brief updates, you can use a blog widget to display the Twitter feed on the site and it will auto-update. Longer/more detailed updates could be a blog entry.

I've recommended this site here before, but there is a site called ChipIn which is like GiveForward, but not so specifically designed for medical expenses, which might be less confusing for your donors.

You won't owe taxes on the money, but you will have to pay fees for any money-processing site you use like PayPal. Are you sure there is no 501(c)(3) organization in the area she lives that could help you get the funds to go through a tax-deductible route? It would help you get more donors, especially because most people have so many options of tax-deductible charities to give to for this type of thing. Also, being part of a 501c3 allows you access to many other online fundraising routes, like Facebook Causes.

If you have other questions feel free to PM me. I have a lot of experience with online fundraising.

What I suggest is that you will likely get a lot more mileage out of in-person fundraisers wherever you live, and then using the website as a promotional tool along with those in-person fundraisers/to help you get the donors who have given to continue to give. One other thought - Vertical Response is an e-mail marketing company that small groups/businesses can use for free, you could use this to create a mailing list about your project and send occasional updates directly to people's mailboxes (leading them to pages on your website).
posted by treehorn+bunny at 5:35 PM on November 12, 2011

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