Kelli Koehler is a Project Starter from Sacred Heart University studying physical therapy. She reached 111% of her Project goal to volunteer in Guatemala in January 2014. Read below to find out what surprised Kelli the most about her peer-funding experience!

Project Travel: Why did you feel crowdfunding was the right solution for you?

Kelli: I thought it was more convenient for people to use a credit card and give online rather than sending out letters and having to get stamps. I feel people are more inclined to support if it’s convenient.

Project Travel: A lot of Project Starters are initially nervous about launching their Project public. Did you feel this way about launching your Project public?

Kelli: I did. I felt a little uncomfortable about it. After talking with my family about it a little bit we realized that there are a lot of people willing to support me to do something for a good cause. We were very overwhelmed with the support and love that people gave us! 

Project Travel: How did you tell people about your Project?

Kelli: We used Facebook to share it with people. My Mom helped me organize email addresses. My family helped me spread the word. I talked about it with some of the students going on the trip with me. 

Project Travel: How did your community respond to you reaching out to them? Was there anything that surprised you about the response?

Kelli: I was surprised as to how receptive [my community] was. I thought some people might be skeptical or not as generous but for a lot of people it was a no-brainer and that surprised me that they were so willing to share with me. I was kind of overwhelmed by the amount of money people gave to me. 

Project Travel: What factors do you feel contributed to the success of your Project?

Kelli: I think telling your story and adding pictures helps give people an idea of what you’re doing. People visiting my Project can see the benefit of helping me to help other people. Having it all displayed well gets the message across. 

Project Travel: Was there anything you would do differently if you ever raised money online for another project?

Kelli: I might be a little less guarded, nervous and skeptical. If I did it again I’d be more willing to share with everybody rather than share with a few people here and there. My grandmother sent out the link to some of her friends in the medical profession who I never even met before and they donated, just hearing the story and they were so willing to be a part of it! 

Project Travel: If you could tell a future Project Starter one thing about getting started, what would you tell them?

Kelli: I would just say to have an open mind and not be afraid! Realize you will get more out of than just the donations. It’s humbling to see how much love there is in your surrounding community that you may not even have an appreciation of to begin with. It’s a good eye-opener to see the love and support you have surrounding you. It’s great that I raised as much as I did but the biggest thing for me was realizing how much love and support I have in my life. 

Project Travel: What do you think you’ve learned through the process?

Kelli: It’s important to acknowledge people right away and thank people immediately to confirm that I received the donation and thank them for it. I gave phone calls to close family members to thank them and also sent messages on Facebook and email. When I come back I’d like to share a photo with my supporters and thank them again. 

Project Travel: Is there anyone you’d like to give a special thanks to for helping you reach your goals?

Kelli: I’d like to thank my parents for supporting me throughout the Project and helping me get through my whole education. I am thankful for [Project Travel] and everything you guys do! This was a great experience for me. 

Project Travel: Thanks Kelli! Congratulations and safe travels to Guatemala! We hope to hear from you in January.