The best way to fund a mission trip

You don't have to wait till you're wealthy to help others in need

Aid work and humanitarian travel is an experience that is both extremely challenging and even more rewarding. A primary concern for many individuals who feel compelled to travel to locations in dire need of aid and resources is how to fund a trip of this kind. An easy way to accomplish this is through fundraising.

There are thousands of different organizations that specialize in humanitarian efforts and the methods by which they fund missions of this sort vary wildly. I recommend looking for an organization that commits its members to some level of fundraising. Why?

  1. Fundraising lifts the burden of travel and housing off of the organization (or the host country) thus freeing your team to allocate funds for community needs.
  2. Fundraising expands the network of individuals and companies who are aware of the cause for which you are raising money. This presents an opportunity for growth in the future of the organization or cause.
  3. Fundraising allows for exceeding monetary goals by not limiting it to a fee that you or the organization pays. Again, this allows for more funding to go to those who actually need it.

If you're just starting out and need some pointers on the best way to raise money for a mission trip of this kind, here are a few methods that will make your fundraising efforts particularly effective.

Reach out directly

It's easy to send out a Facebook blast with a general, "Hey guys, wanna help out…". But this kind of message is also easy to ignore. The most effective way to garner funding and interest is by directly reaching out to individuals and companies. Type up an email, call them on the phone, or (gasp) write a letter. The time that it takes to make these messages personal make it much more difficult to ignore and thus much more effective.

Be clear about what donors are investing in

There are a lot of scams out there nowadays. People want to know that their money is being used for a good cause. Make sure to be very explicit about where the money is going. If it's to pay for your travel, emphasize that this allows you to use resources towards the cause. If it's building houses, make sure you mention it. Tax write off? Mention it.

I work with an orphanage in Haiti every's some of the most rewarding work I've ever done and it would be near impossible without fundraising campaigns.

I'm currently raising money for a mission trip to Haiti. I very explicitly mention in all my letters that my team is providing water filters for areas that don't have access to clean water. A large part of funding goes to this cause and people are almost always willing to give for something as important as clean water. Be specific.

Give hard deadlines

It's easy to think, "I'll give in a few days, or weeks, or months." Make sure to be clear about when you need to have the money. Even if the organization you work with isn't specific, set your own deadlines and stick to them. It'll be less overwhelming for you and easier for your donors to wrap their head around the project.

Make it simple to give

Don't assume that everyone is carrying their checkbook around or will mail you some cash. In the age of the Internet, attention is sparse; you need to make it easy for someone to invest in the cause. A PayPal link is one great way. GoFundMe is another great resource.* It takes a few seconds to setup an account and it's super simple for people to give. This is an example of a GoFundMe campaign I'm doing right now.

*It's important to note that GoFund me takes a certain percentage of funds for using their site. Take this into account when using it.

Use every available network

Ask your friends. Classmates. Co-workers. CEOs. Churches. Small businesses. You'd be surprised how many companies have a budget to give to charity. All you need to do is ask. Even if money isn't an option, many people and companies are willing to donate supplies related to their business. This is huge depending on your need. So check 'em out. Get creative.

Clean water and sincere friendship can bring people dancing in the streets! Don't let fear stop you from giving. Best of luck in your fundraising efforts. Stay hungry for justice and remain grateful for the privilege to serve!

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If you've googled one thing during this pandemic, it is definitely: "Thai food near me."

Thai food has remained one of the most delicious and sought after takeout gems; and in New York City, specifically, there are so many delicious options that it can be overwhelming. Often unlike Chinese food, Thai food offers fresher ingredients and versatile cuisine options. Whether you want some Pad Thai or Pad See Ew, or some coconut milk-infused curry or even just some soup, Thai food is good for any occasion. But with so many options, how do you know you're getting the freshest ingredients at the best price? Here are the best spots to order take-out from, and we even broke it up by borough for you.

Manhattan: Fish Cheeks

Fish Cheeks

Reviewed by The Times as "fresh, vivid and intense," Fish Cheeks offers solid takes on traditional Thai Cuisine. Their speciality remains seafood, so their Crab Friend Rice and Coconut Crab Curry are delicious highlights. Their Tum Yum is also to die for, made with fresh galanagal, lime leaves and lemongrass.

The version [of tum yum] here hums with fresh galangal, lime leaves and lemongrass. Shrimp and knobby mushrooms simmer in a broth that gets extra body from milk, a twist I've never seen before but one I approve of. It could be spicier, but the use of bird's-eye chiles is far from shy.

Manhattan: Lan Larb

thia food

Arguably some of the best Pad Thai in the city, Lan Larb is focused mainly on the food of Thailand's northeast region. As a result, there is often a combo of meat and seafood involved in most dishes, such as the Lao Chicken Soup, which combines fresh chicken with pickled fish and a steamy brown broth. The menu will make your tastebuds whirl if you're one for experimentation, if not, their Pad Thai is iconic and filling enough on its own.

Brooklyn: Ugly Baby

Brooklyn has always been teeming with amazing Thai food joints, but Ugly Baby is the borough's most established success story. The Carrol Gardens sensation was preceded by two long gone Red Hook restaurants known for their authentic Northern Thai cuisine. With Ugly Baby, a name which comes from an ancient belief in Thailand that ugly children bring good fortune, chef Sirichai Sreparplarn had mastered his craft. The restaurant quickly gained glowing praise throughout Brooklyn and New York, and their take on Khao Soi Nuer and Kao Tod Nam Klook remain the stuff of legends.

Queens: Ayada

ayada thai

Ayada's cuisine is so good that it made a New York Times journalist cry at his table. Not out of emotion though, but out of spice. For those looking for a truly bold eating experience, this Queens Thai restaurant holds nothing back when crafting their drunken noodles or Pad Thai, but that spice is what makes it one of the best spots in the city.

Bronx: Ceetay

​While the Bronx isn't necessarily a buzzing Thai food borough, Ceetay's asian fusion cuisine is of the highest quality and will appeal to anyone desperately needing to nom on some noodles. Their sushi is amazing but their Pad Thai is packed with amazing flavor. Seasoned with onions, peppers, cabbage, carrots, mushrooms, peanuts, scallions and cilantro, this Pad Thai is packed with flavors and will slam your taste buds in the best possible way.


5 Countries to Visit This Fall

As the weather starts to chill out, we're just getting warmed up to travel

It's not winter yet!

So that means, we're all about that fall travel. It's a beautiful time of year to be outside in many countries, soaking up the colorful landscapes and fresh air. Here are our picks for the top places to visit this fall.

1. Germany


Burg Eltz Castle is a magical step back into the Middle Ages that's been here for more than 850 years.

2. Switzerland


The red leaves in Bern are absolutely striking.

3. Italy


Nothing like the sheer beauty of the formidable Italian alps.

4. Peru


Machu Picchu beckons visitors from near and far this fall.

5. Mexico


It's not too cold to skip the beach!

Everyone has heard of the murder-hotel where dark shadows creep at the edge of your vision, or the abandoned house where the furniture moves each time you leave the room.

But sometimes the places set up to capture the fun and fright of the Halloween season for paying customers can be far more horrifying than any ghost stories. These "fake" haunted houses will leave you genuinely haunted.

Pennhurst Haunted Asylum

So spoooky!

Thomas James Caldwell

Pennhurst Asylum was in operation from 1908-1987 in the small town of Spring City, Pennsylvania. While we don't have all the records of the residents' experiences there, it doesn't take much imagination to realize that this building was home to true horrors. In many ways, 1908 wasn't that long ago, but in terms of mental health treatment—especially in small-town Pennsylvania—it was absolutely the dark ages. This was the time of lobotomies, straight jackets, and shock therapy. Whatever the jump scares and fake blood contribute to the fear you will feel walking through Pennhurst Asylum's aging, echoing halls, they can't come close to the deep, sinking feeling caused by the deep history of torment that has left its imprint on the very fabric of the place. Four spooky skulls out of five.


Haunted Trap House

Like this, but less 90s

In Centreville, Maryand, in the year 1989, a group of visionaries were struck by a bolt of inspiration. What if—instead of zombies and werewolves and demons, and all the stuff out of children's nightmares—what if they filled their haunted house with the real-world nightmares that were actually infesting their city, killing their residents, and generally afflicting every corner of the entire nation. Thus, the Haunted Crack House was born. Since renamed the Haunted Trap House, it's ostensibly an educational experience on the dangers of drug use, it features simulations of overdoses, arrests, and shootings, as well as actual former convicts who are paid to draw on their real experiences to make your visit as terrifying as possible. This kind of fetishizing of human misery to capitalize on the Halloween season is as despicable as it is spooky. Four-and-a-half skulls out of five.


McKamey Manor

He technically consented to this

A $20,000 reward? A 40-page waiver? These figures have garnered a lot of attention in recent headlines. Supposedly this is the "scariest" haunted house experience in the country. Who could resist the temptation of that once-in-a-lifetime experience, combined with the chance to win a big cash prize? Unfortunately, that is exactly what Russ McKay wants. There's a reason he's put so much work into the legal side of his operation. Rather than gassing up neutered chainsaws and chasing you around in a hockey mask, McKay has opted for producing actual, real, straight-up torture. You may not find the decorations and costumes that scary, but you will absolutely fear for your life when you consent to be water-boarded with fake blood. For being operated by a man who is clearly an unhinged psychopath, McKamey Manor ties the Haunted Traphouse, with four-and-a-half spooky skulls.


Donald Vann's House of Horrors

Donald Vann murdered eleven people. Happens to the best of us, but it does present a problem. How do you dispose of all those bodies? Donald's solution was to open a haunted house and put his victims' decaying remains on display as props. Props to him. For eight months he prepared his fetid, malodorous horrors, before debuting on October 1st. Unfortunately, you won't be able to visit his house of horrors, because he has since landed in some legal trouble—board of health, maybe?—but I'm sure for the lucky few who were able to visit during its brief tenure, and witness Vann's "psychotic smirk," I'm sure the nightmares they're left with keep on spooking.


Every Hell House in America


In the same vein as the Haunted Traphouse, Hell Houses are church presentations intended as educational experiences that warn kids and teens away from the path of sin. Their methods for achieving this obviously vary, but according to The Washington Post, you can generally expect the following: "A devil ushers a gay man dying of AIDS into the fiery pit. A teenager who is raped at a drug-filled rave commits suicide and also goes to hell. A young girl hemorrhaging from an abortion repents at the last minute." Awful. Truly sickening. What kind of trauma are they inflicting on these children to prop up their outdated ideologies? Six spooky skulls. Where'd that extra skull come from?? Nobody knows…