Fundraising: Home-building trips 'let more donors take part'

ActionAid and Shelter are both offering their first short home-building trips in a move to engage with donors who don't want to limit their commitment to simply giving money.

Rather than raising sponsorship to participate in events such as mountain climbing, cycling trips or marathons, donors can travel to developing countries to help local families build their homes.

The trips are up to 10 days long, which means people who have full-time jobs can take part.

ActionAid is running the Tsunami Relief Community Challenge in partnership with Habitat for Humanity, which ran a similar event last year, to help a community in Sri Lanka hit by the disaster.

Volunteers have to raise at least £3,000 in sponsorship and pay a registration fee of £300. Ten per cent goes to Habitat for Humanity, 60 per cent to ActionAid and 30 per cent on trip costs.

It is hoped that the trip leaving on 1 April, with 20 participants, will raise about £66,000.

Maria Photiou, fundraising manager at ActionAid, said: "Helping to build a home for someone else is a unique experience, opening your eyes to the plight of others and helping break the cycle of poverty."

Two long-standing supporters of ActionAid, mother and son Sue Eve Jones and Sam Jones, from Wellington in Somerset, will be heading to Galle in south-west Sri Lanka to take part.

Sam said: "The chance to interact at a grass-roots level with different cultures and communities and to aid the hard work of building will be an amazing experience."

Shelter's Team Building scheme, launched this year, has also been successful, with more than £40,000 raised from the £2,500 minimum sponsorship and fee of £395.

One group of participants went to Kenya at the end of January, and another went to Mexico - they helped to build homes while raising funds to improve bad housing in the UK.

Alan Gosschalk, director of fundraising at Shelter, said there was a "natural link" because Shelter is a housing charity. He said: "The trips were a success - the idea has the potential to grow because we have a big base of people who may be interested."

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