How an ex-girlfriend's round-the-world ticket helped launch a global charity

Jordan Axani is leveraging his viral story about a free airline ticket for a Canadian named "Elizabeth Gallagher" into a campaign to raise money to help others travel. Here's why it just might work. 

One young couple’s break-up may make a lot of dreams come true.

That’s the aim, at least, of a new organization called A Ticket Forward, which plans to use crowdfunding to finance travel for people who have experienced health or financial setbacks. 

Jordan Axani booked a round-the-world trip for himself and his girlfriend last March, when he was still dating a woman named Elizabeth Gallagher, CNN reported.

When they broke up, however, he didn’t want to waste the ticket. His campaign to find a Canadian travel companion named Elizabeth Gallagher, initially posted to Reddit, went viral. 

He found his Ms. Gallagher — they leave on their trip this week — but in the process, he received many requests from people who inspired him to expand his goals beyond his own trip. And the model he decided to use may just work.

“When the story broke I received countless heartbreaking letters from around the world,” Axani writes on his website. “People of all nationalities shared their fears, passion and desire to see the world; and in tandem explained why they or their family did not have the ability or means to travel. It got me thinking that travel is more than a luxury; it is a right of passage for all of us.”

Four stories are posted on the organization’s website so far, and donors have collectively contributed $2,450 of $80,000 requested, as of press time.

In the apparently crowded crowdfunding industry, with more than 500 active host platforms, according to 2013 estimates, Axani might find success elusive. But this nascent capital-raising industry, continues to expand,  from raising $2.7 billion online in 2012 to $5.1 billion in 2013, Forbes reported.

Moreover, at least one crowdfunding platform — Indiegogo Life — is recognizing the need to expand their services to better feature charity campaigns.

Indiegogo announced the service three days ago after seeing “the profound impact personal fundraisers can have on individuals’ lives,” citing pet care, college tuition, and medical emergencies. 

Indiegogo founder and chief development officer Danae Ringelmann says in a promotional video that the service was inspired by a 2010 campaign run by two reporters who hoped to raise $50,000 for a man’s surgery in South Africa.

Successful campaigns, she says, tell their stories, say who they are helping, set fundraising goals, and explain where the money is going.

For now, Axani and Gallagher are embarking on the first legs of their personal trip. But perhaps when they land back in Canada, Axani’s campaign will have really taken off.

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