Paying for the KaosPilots - Fundraising for Denmark
December 6, 2007 11:22 PM   Subscribe

How can I raise funds to afford studying as a KaosPilot in Denmark?

I'm planning to apply for the next team of the KaosPilots. There's a few phases to this:

Phase 1: Application - starts mid Jan; free
Phase 2: Application workshop - two days in Aarhus in April for those who are shortlisted. Have to cover my own costs.
Phase 3: Start of the program, in September. Fees apply.

I'm trying to get funding for Phases 2 and 3 (getting to Aarhus for the workshop, and actually paying for the program if I get in). I have a pretty good shot at being shortlisted for the workshop as I've been shortlisted once before (for Stockholm), I have the support of some of their board members (including their founder), and I'm in close contact with the admin. Getting into the program proper is a bit less certain, but as I will have very little time in between, I'll need to start planning now.

I've made a budget and the living costs (health insurance!!!) are killing me. The actual education's cost is a bit cheaper then that of my current Australian uni, but it's still a substantial amount of money to think about.

I've been trying to look for funding, but I'm at a loss. Here's why:

a) It's not exactly "saving the whales" or "helping children in Africa", so people don't really see me as enough of a "charity case" to support
b) My parents are in a high enough income bracket that I sometimes get told off for being a rich kid. However, they're not willing to fund something like this, and quite honestly I don't want their money anyway (don't want their control over me)
c) The KaosPilots don't have any scholarships (they did say they MAY help with funding), the Danish government doesn't give aid to non-Scandinavians, Malaysia and Australia have no scholarships or grants for this sort of thing
d) I've never really been good at fundraising
e) Outside Europe (and especially in Malaysia) the KaosPilots are unknown - people are skeptical (I've tried fundraising before for a different project. Everyone thought I was joining a cult, and demanded letters from Fortune 500 companies, Ivy League schools, AND the United Nations before they'd listen to me. Seriously.)

Some things that are to my benefit:

a) The KaosPilots have significant partnerships with many top companies (LEGO, Apple, etc) so I can try contacting them
b) If accepted, I would be the first person of Asian origin in the KaosPilot's history, which is significant on their end
c) I plan to use the KaosPilots education to learn how to set up youth-oriented projects in Malaysia and the region
d) As I said earlier, I have some moral support from key board members - not much in the way of financial support though.

What can I do to raise funds for my KaosPilots journey? How do I get in-kind support (plane tickets, Mac laptop, etc)? How do I get publicity for this?

I've read that many people write letters to companies and then follow up by phone to set up a meeting. Who in the company should I target? How soon after should I follow up? What if I'm not in the same country as the company?

I've also read of some people who fundraised by selling "shares" in their project. In return for their investment, shareholders get updates on their project and a thank-you dinner (and some other things which were not mentioned). I like this idea but I'm not sure what I can offer to investors, besides food, updates, and consulting/speaking sessions. How do I pull this off?

How else can I fundraise? What grants, foundations, scholarships, etc are there for me to make use of? How do I get over the bump of this being more of a "selfish" project (there will be community benefits - the KPs do a LOT of real-life project work - just not immediately)? What creative ways are there to fundraise?

some ideas i've thought of:

a) Selling personalized stories (I like writing)
b) Selling shares (as mentioned above)
c) Selling off all my possessions (this would only get me a measley amount though)
d) Writing to the city councils of Aarhus/Johor/Brisbane
e) Writing to the Danish Club of Brisbane
f) Get people to donate to me online (tried this before; doesn't work so well)
g) Host a party or a concert and charge admission (perhaps possible in Brisbane)

I'm on holidays the next 3 months in Malaysia so would like to get some Malaysia-related fundraising done now, then from February onwards I'll be in university in Australia. My student visa only allows a max of 20 hours/week work and no job with that limitation will pay me enough to afford anything (though it is something I'm looking at).

What else can I do?
posted by divabat to Work & Money (10 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Gosh I'm sympathetic. If you're good enough to get in you shouldn't have to worry about finances. But you are taking an MBA so creativity counts.

When I took my MBA lots of folks brought their own pet idea to the University - one guy had a unique idea for an online music store, a gal for a string of retail fashion / spa type of retail outlets, etc. There were about 40 of us in our class, and maybe one quarter were entrepreneurs in training - i.e., taking an MBA to refine or acquire skills that would insure success in their business.

Our MBA heavily featured presentations to peers as part of the grading process. The other being more traditional written assignments. Students got points for presenting and defending their idea, much like you'd have to do to in business. Other students got points for successfully criticising these presentations / ideas. You really had to think things through before presenting.

During our 18 course modules you'd see these ideas time and time again in the various class presentations - Marketing, Management Accounting, Human Resources, etc.

At the end many of these students were left with complete plans for their proposed business - pretty much every facet, and not just their own thoughts on each necessary part of a business, but plans that had been criticised and reworked.

So maybe find someone who has an idea and needs a complete plan to form & run a business put together? Get either full or partial funding that way.
posted by Mutant at 12:08 AM on December 7, 2007

Response by poster: Mutant: It's more like a Bachelor of Business, but it's such an alternative business school model that who knows really!

Running a business sounds interesting, but where within 3 years will I find time to run it with them? Also, people would give funding to the business, not to me running off overseas. Also, I'm usually the idea person - that's why I'm trying to go to this school, to learn the other half ;)
posted by divabat at 12:12 AM on December 7, 2007

Are you an Australian citizen? If so, you can see if you can cajole UQ or whereever you're at into talking to the KaosPilot program about an exchange - if it works, you'll only pay the UQ fees, and Centrelink will continue to pay out while you're overseas and studying. If you're a Malaysian citizen, no clue - is there some equivalent student support payment?
posted by nicolas léonard sadi carnot at 12:13 AM on December 7, 2007

Divabat - I'd pitch this more as you'll sell them the various aspects of the planning, not that you'd get involved at all.

There is an old expression I picked up someplace "Businesses don't plan to fail, they fail to plan". We know 90% of small businesses fail in the first five years, and we know the majority of these failures relate to lack of working capital but still - withall this insight and data - starting up - much less running - a business is a very, very risky proposition.

We all probably know someone who has started "a business" only to have it fold six month, one year, etc later. With the type of complete and proper planning and insight you'd propose to offer, their chances of success would be increased.

Not totally certain, but the odds would have been shifted in their favour by the peer review and written, formal planning you'd be doing - at business school - on their behalf.

Anyhow, that was the best idea I could come up with. All the best!
posted by Mutant at 12:23 AM on December 7, 2007

Response by poster: nicolas leonard sadi carnot: Here's the twist - I'm a BANGLADESH citizen. Oh yes. Which is utterly useless.

QUT is a bit useless with exchange (long story) and as an international student, I am not allowed legally to go on exchange in my final semester.. I've arranged my courses this year so that I get all my required courses out of the way, then I'm going to see if I can negotiate with the faculty to get that final semester (which is all electives) counted for KP. I've tried asking before but the answer was negative, but we'll see. It's been suggested to me to ask QUT for funding, but I'm not sure how successful I'll be, or who in QUT I should ask specifically.

I don't qualify for any Malaysian funding because I'm only a PR, and even then they don't support anything outside of science in recognized traditional universities. Hence the need for more alternative funding ideas.
posted by divabat at 12:24 AM on December 7, 2007

Response by poster: Mutant: aaaaaahhhhhhhh. I see what you're getting at. That's a good thing I could sell if I go with the share-holder idea...
posted by divabat at 12:25 AM on December 7, 2007

Divabat - of course this would be a "real world" entry exam of your presentation abilities and powers of persuasion. Two very real and key skills needed to succeed in business.

Getting back to the program - I took two ideas for a business to my MBA programme, using them in the various classes. The difference in my thinking before and after is profound, I been able to far more rigorously evaluate and restructure each concept for a business. Clearly (at least to me) before I undertook that study, I certainly would have failed had I tried to launch either.

Now I'm incubating one of the concepts with minimal resources and we'll see where it goes. We plan to launch Q2 2008 and if we break even I'll be happy.

But I would have paid for this insight had I not gained it personally and first hand. Business school offers a unique and valuable opportunity to refine and work through ideas and concepts without expensive, real world mistakes.
posted by Mutant at 12:40 AM on December 7, 2007

That's a tough situation. From their website, most of the other students will be receiving government support, so they aren't having to grapple with this issue. In the US, business educations are usually funded via loans, because the expectation is that you will be earning big bucks when you are done. But your KP program maybe doesn't fit neatly in that model -- there is something of a social component to it, it looks like, and certainly the name is an attempt to differentiate it from most business schools.

A lot depends on what you are planning to do when you are done. As in, why should I pay for you to go and have this awesome experience if you are either going to go work for Euro Disney afterwards raking in the cash, or will be working for good causes... but on the other side of the planet and not helping the place where I am living? It seems like a very indirect way to provide charity, you know? And it is really worth being hard-nosed about the "what after" question, because it is really easy to take on huge education debts and end up in real financial trouble. Questions like, "what are the starting salaries?" and "how long do your graduates spend looking for work?" seem hopelessly bourgeois, I know, but they really really matter if you are not a Scandinavian citizen and are therefore not eligible to go on the dole, get free health care, get a subsidized apartment, and get state funding for your entrepreneurial NGO start-up.

So to address your question: I think your best option for funding (unless you luck out and get some sort of reciprocal coverage from your current university, but I think it is the other costs, more than the tuition, that are the problem, right?) is to press the KP people for tuition remission, and ideally cost of living support. You will want to make a strong case for how you will diversify their program, racially and in terms of ideas; for your post-KP plans; and any other reason they should pay for you to be there. And you need to really push them on the cost of living issues -- do they have any creative solutions? Can, for example, they bring you into the Danish public health care system? Can you stay in some sort of school hostel rather than a more expensive private accommodation?

Lastly, whatever you do, make sure you have the room in your budget to be able to take advantage of the kinds of opportunities that the school will present. For example, if there is a study trip to Paris, you will need the cash for the train, food, hotels, etc ... to have to sit behind while your cohort goes without you would be not only sad, but also a real waste of the whole point of the course in the first place.
posted by Forktine at 1:03 AM on December 7, 2007

Consider applying to Hyperisland in Sweden instead. You may find the Swedish system a little easier to enter as a foreigner than the Danish. Feel free to mefimail me if you need a hand looking at Swedish grant info etc or more info on Hyperisland.
posted by Iteki at 3:00 AM on December 7, 2007

I found this website for an Australian credit union (basically, a member-owned financial institution, not a corporate-owned bank) that offers personal loans for all sorts of purposes. I have no idea what your financial status is there as a non-citizen student, or what credit unions are like in Oz, but it seems like they'd be able to help with things like this, and it's probably as easy to join as a bank is - just open an account there and perhaps pay a nominal fee. Here's one specifically in Queensland.

Even if you only took out a loan to cover part of the cost, if the terms of repayment were fair and you knew that you'd be earning enough to cover it in the future, why not?
posted by mdonley at 5:50 AM on December 7, 2007

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