Most fundraisers travel at least some of the time. Many of us are “road warriors” who travel at least 25%-75% of the time. After almost two years of 50% travel, I have found some iPhone apps to be nearly indispensable to me for smooth and safe travel. Here's 10 of my favorites in no particular order. All of these are free to download.
I’m not really sure how I would have done this job before Google maps! I would have a stack of old MapQuest print-outs as tall as Moby Dick without it. I’m a bit of a control freak and I hate being late, so this app is great for me because I can plan what traffic is likely to be at the specific time of day I plan to be somewhere. I also like that I can select car, public transport or eve walking.
Furthermore, I use this at home when planning a trip to select restaurants convenient to the donor’s home or work, find centrally located hotels, and assess how far constituents live from a metro center I’m visiting to determine whether I could make it that far to see them. Bottom line, it is a crucial tool for my work as a fundraiser.
Clio is a landmark and history app. It senses where you are and tells you which historic landmarks and museums are near you. It’s fun when you have some extra time to fill between meetings or when you are traveling with kids. I’ve learned a great deal about cities around the country that I wouldn’t have learned without Clio.
Feeling like Mexican? How about Lebanese? Just type it into Yelp and it will tell you where the closest restaurant of that type is to you, whether it is open now and how much it is likely to cost. The ratings and reviews are good too if you can’t decide.
Lyft is my new favorite app. I’m from the South and wouldn’t know how to hail a cab if my life depended on it. So, when I needed a cab, I would walk to the nearest taxi stand. Now, wherever I am, Lyft gets me to my next destination. I’m so excited that they are expanding into the South now too.
Lyft usually arrives within 5 minute or less, shows me my driver’s picture and tells me the make, model, and license plate number of the vehicle. It texts me with a “bing!” to let me know when my driver arrives. I don’t have to pull out a credit card, as it is saved in the app. When the ride is over, I pull up the app to add a tip and the receipt arrives in my email inbox.
And if you are traveling with a group or with children or strollers/luggage, Lyft will let you select a larger vehicle so you are sure to have space for everyone and everything.
The Hilton app keeps all my reservations in one place. I can check in the day before I arrive, letting them know when I’ll be there. I usually can select my room in the app. It’s nice to have the addresses and phone numbers of the hotels at my fingertips.
Airline Specific Apps
United and Virgin have great airline apps. You can check in and even pay for your baggage via the app. Both of these have the ability to use a digital boarding pass on your phone. Delta and American also have apps but they aren’t quite at the level of the others I mentioned.
Quick and easy and more reliable than Skype on the road. Essential for keeping in touch with my kids and my husband when I’m not home.
I love audiobooks. Hoopla Digital is a service you sign up for using your local library card. With my library, I can “check-out’ 8 titles per month via the app. They have e-books and videos too, but I like to use mine for audiobooks because you get more hours of content per check-out. Being able to download a specific title is a nice feature because then you can continue to listen even in airplane mode. I listen to fiction, non-fiction, business and personal development titles.
Your iPhone camera is good for so much more than just pretty pictures. I like to take photos of my parking space numbers at the airport or my hotel room number, so I don’t forget. You can snap photos of posters for events that you want to remember later. I also use my camera to take pictures of flowers and other little things that my daughter would love and I send them to her (via my husband or my mom) to let her know that I’m thinking about her.
For the school that I work for, showing up at donor meetings with a notebook or executive pad would be wildly too formal. But often, a donor will get energize and begin throwing out names of people I should meet or follow up with. The Notes app takes the place of paper. I also use it to jot down any ideas I might have when pulling out my journal at that moment would be a pain. I’ll get a ton of ideas as I’m listening to audiobooks (via Hoopla) and I use notes to record those on the go.
Are there other apps that I didn't list? What are your favorites?
As always, comments and questions are welcome and encouraged!
PS - If you liked this post, you might also like these:
PPS - If you found this article helpful, please comment and let me know. Also subscribe to Real Deal Fundraising so you don't miss a post! You'll get my guide to Call Center Games for Free!
Most fundraisers have to travel for at least some portion of their time. My daughter (now 7) was very spirited and attached to me. So, I didn't travel without her until she was 3 and a half. We are are very lucky because my husband is a stay-at-home dad and he was happy to travel with me to conferences a few times a year. Since we homeschool, they still travel with me quite a bit
Luckily, my son (almost 2) is a bit more independent and doesn't mind short-term separations. This means that I travel without my kids more and more these days. And it's important to me to keep connected to my kids when I'm on the road. Some days it's really tough because my schedule is packed, morning to night. Other times, I'm just exhausted from time changes and travel delays.
Here are some quick ideas that have worked for me to stay connected with my kids when I'm on the road.
1) Facetime and Skype
This one is obvious but it wasn't that long ago that these tools weren't widely available. Now, they are available to use almost anytime and anywhere on your phone. I can call from the airport, hotel or even when I'm out and about. These tools are especially important for my son who is too small to talk on the phone or understand when I send messages in any other format. With my daughter, I get updates on what she did for school work and her current projects and with my son I mostly sing songs that we sing at home, etc.
2) Flower power
My daughter and I have a thing that whenever she's not with me, I take pictures of beautiful flowers and send them to her dad (or sometimes grandmother) so she can see the flowers. But, really it is just a confirmation that she's continually on my mind and she gets to be a part of the trip. Beyond flowers, I also take pictures of anything that I think she would love to see or would find interesting. (Photo above was one of the pictures that I took and sent to my daughter while I was in Boston today.) I took a trip this week and she got 5-6 flower pictures, a picture of a replica ship from the Boston Tea Party, and a picture of the pastry cases in a fabulous cannoli shop.
If your kids are like mine, they have ENOUGH knickknacks. Our fridge isn't magnetic and I can't abide the idea of trying to keep a snowglobe from breaking in my luggage. So, we have a few preferred types of souvenirs: pencils (that she can use for her schoolwork and be reminded of our travels), patches (which we sew on her travel backpack), and educational books or coloring books.
Do you have travel rituals that keep you connected with your kids when you are doing work travel? Any additional good ideas for the little kids?
I made a post some time recently about using Etsy to reduce graphic design costs. It's a great option for some shops but after writing that post, a friend and colleague pointed me to Canva.com. It is by-far the best tools for amateurs to produce quality graphic design that I've seen. In just a few weeks, it has become indispensable to me, both personally and professionally.
For example, we are using Canva at the school I currently work for to produce graphics for a social media campaign around a challenge grant. We update the numbers regularly. This would be something we might have to pay a graphic designers for each image but we do all of this in-house now. Not only are we saving money but we can produce top-quality images fast and have the ability to produce more in quantity and variety than ever before. (And Canva isn't just for digital images. You can download print-quality images and send those to the print shop.)
I also use Canva to produce images for my blog and the cover of my e-book. It's been fun learning this tool and everything it can do. Best of all, Canva is largely free to use. There are some valuable features available via their paid product: Canva for Work. If you want to share images and work on them with colleagues or save your brand fonts and colors, Canva for Work is only $19 or so per month.
Canva makes money by selling the images on their site for $1 each. I've used a few but not many. I find it equally easy to snap pictures of things that would make interesting backgrounds on my phone and then use those. I don't make any money in recommending Canva. I just felt that as a follow-up to my previous article, I should alert my readership to this amazing resource that makes our work so much easier.
PS - Canva has a great app that makes it seamless to move images on and off your phone. So, if you use instagram quite a bit for fundraising, this a big advantage.
One my first supervisors asked me to prepare a file folder for him with the details of his upcoming trip. He was ridiculously specific in how he wanted it done. At the time, I thought he was crazy. But the next time I traveled for work, I tried it just to see what was so great about it (if anything).
He wasn’t crazy. I’ve now prepped for my travel this way for over 10 years. Increasingly, I don’t need my printed details as much. There’s any app for everything, including your boarding passes and hotel arrangements. However, out of my last three business trips, my iPhone was stolen once and my new iPhone became a brick on me another time. Really, twice in the last few months, I have been traveling and stranded without a phone.
So, let’s say I have a renewed appreciation for having print-outs of your travel arrangements readily accessible. I would like to share how prep your travel details the way my boss taught me years ago.
Any standard file folder will work but I tend to like to use red or bright yellow, so that I can see it in amid the chaos of my travel bag. On the tab, put the name of your trip and the dates. If you travel a lot, this will help you stay organized before you go.
On the right hand side, you will print out the travel details for your flight. Staple it on the top two corners of the papers. (See photo above.) Then print out your rental car details, hotel details and any other relevant appointment information. Stack them in order with the transport documents on top, followed by accommodations as this is the order that you will need them. Staple them to the left hand side of the open file folder just as you did the flight arrangements on the right hand side.
The beauty of this system is not only that you have all the details if your phone fails and you need to reference them (confirmation numbers, loyalty program details, addresses, phone numbers, etc.) but you can grab them quickly and easily. No papers are loose so they won’t fall out on the floor of the airport. And you can choose to peel off the papers you don’t need as you complete flights and check in to the hotel or to keep everything in one place and use these print outs for your expense reports.
The folder also becomes a catch all place to store important documents as I’m traveling. I stow baggage claim info and boarding passes for later flights in the folder.
If I’m driving, I replace the flight info with Google map directions. (Again, if you phone dies or is stolen, you’ll be glad you did this step.)
This method takes 10 extra minutes but it does bring significant benefits while on the road and peace-of-mind when technology lets you down. Try it yourself and let me know if you value it as much as I do.
Deciding where you need to go is the first step to planning your travel. In the absence of wealth screening data or other ratings, I've found it helpful to run a list of every donor who has given $1,000 or more in the last 5 years to my institution. That provides me with a basis for deciding what major metropolitan areas I should visit over the course of the next year.
Then you'll need to decide on your travel method. I have used car, plane and train to get where I need to be and each has its own set of pros and cons. You will need to try out different methods and develop your own personal preferences of course.
For flights, I start with kayak.com. I like it because I am close to at least 5 possible airports and Kayak gives you great results for looking at nearby airports. This means I can quickly see which airport has the best possible prices for my organization's budget. Then I also check out Southwest too. Southwest airfares won't be in any of the standard databases or searches. Once I have decided on the exact flights I want, I go over to expedia.com because I can pick my exact seat on every flight. This is useful if my family is traveling with me (as they do from time to time) because I go back and purchase the same exact flights with my personal card and select the seats right next to mine.
I'm a Hilton Honors member, so I often make that my next stop. (It doesn't matter which loyalty program you join but you will want to join one of them.) I use the Hilton website in close concert with Google Maps because I want to know where my hotel is compared with the home and office locations of most of the donors I need to see. I especially need to know how close everything is so I know whether I require a rental car. I find I'm partial to Embassy Suites, Homewood Suites, and Hampton Inn brands. They have tea always available in the lobby, generous breakfast and most have laundry on site (a must if you ever travel with kids).
For rental cars, I like priceline. I try to avoid doing rental cars whenever I can use public transport and/or taxis to get to my visits. When I must have one, I'm not loyal to any one vendor. Price is the big factor.
When I arrive, I make extensive use of Google Maps and also Yelp to find places nearby to eat. To make reservations for donor lunches or dinners, I like Open Table. I also like a little history app called Clio. If I'm ever waiting anywhere, I just pull this up and the app shows me all the historical sites that are nearby. It's a great way to get to know a city even if you are too busy to actually go see much of it.
I have a very specific way that I prep documents for my travel too. Check back for that post next week.
Jessica Cloud, CFRE
I've been called the Tasmanian Devil of fundraising and I'm here to talk shop with you.