Fundraising Ideas

While the cost can be enough to frighten interested students away, we are here to reassure you that there are many avenues to help lessen the financial commitments. The hardest part of fundraising may be just getting started!

Hint: some countries are more expensive to study abroad in than others (cough, England, Australia, and Japan, cough!), so be sure to research your study abroad destination to factor in your projected costs. For those wanting a more cost-effective study abroad experience, consider instead studying in China, Mexico, and Costa Rica.

If you're tired of filling out scholarship application after scholarship application, we'd like to encourage you to get creative. Start looking in various "non-traditional" locations for financial support. Some successful study abroaders who utilized fundraising have shared that the fundraising alone added value to their overall experience. You may learn more about yourself, your capabilities, and the kindness of others along the way. Energize others about your upcoming experience, and capitalize on an opportunity to further educate them about the present needs and issues in your intended destination. Be enthusiastic and committed, and have a game plan (including a clear idea of the amount of money you intend to raise). The following are ideas that have been tried and tested, successful methods for raising funds for study abroad.


1. Send letters to friends, relatives, acquaintances, old teachers, co-workers, professors... you get the picture!

If you opt to make contact with potential supporters via snail mail, be sure that your letter includes information about yourself (including a photo!). Try to emit a contagious enthusiasm for your upcoming experience. Ease the reader into making a connection with you--perhaps describe what has happened in your life that have contributed to your decision to study abroad, more details on the nature of the program you have selected itself, or ways that you believe your study abroad experience is an investment in your future. Make donating as easy as possible--cash or check, and ask for a specific amount ($50-$100 is pretty standard).

Always (always always!) follow up with "thank you" letters (preferably hand written) and try to keep in touch with your supporters through email while you are studying abroad.

2. Use your contacts from #1 to contact THEIR contacts!

Networking is huge. If you receive support from somebody, it may not hurt to ask them if they would pass on your letter of interest to their colleagues, friends, etc. You never know who will be inspired by your story and be willing to help out in even larger ways, such as recruiting further help! Consider asking close friends and family to write letters on your behalf to their contacts.

3. Storm local businesses

Larger corporations may end up being a never ending line of dealing with sales reps and managers and those managers' managers; focus your energy instead on smaller businesses in your hometown or university town. A great starting point is your local Chamber of Commerce, who may be able to provide a list of contact information for most nearby businesses. Establish connections with the businesses--consider sending them letters (as in #1), or instead, hand-deliver your sponsorship request and introduce yourself directly to the staff on site. Follow up with phone calls. Be direct and polite, and ask for a specific amount of money.

If you are planning on having an event to raise money for your trip, consider asking local businesses to donate their product (merchandise, gift certificates, etc) and opt to raffle them off at your event. If possible, consider partnering with your employer as a host or sponsor for the event.

4. Have a fundraising par-tay!

As I briefly just touched upon, it is possible to host a community event for fundraising your experience. Events such as spaghetti dinners or pancake breakfasts have proved successful in the past, among hundreds of other creative parties. Raffles or entrance chargers are a simple solution for raising money during the events. Sponsor a disco, a baked potato bar, an ice cream social, go crazy!

5. Tap into your hometown resources

Did you grow up in one town your whole life? Turn to community groups and alumni associations from your hometown, county, or state as a means of support. Research local civic groups such as Rotary, Elks, Kiwanis, Lions, or other special-interest groups who might be interested in sponsoring you. One method of drumming up support is offering to hold an educational seminar or presentation about your travels for the group upon your return. Additionally, an announcement in a high-school or college alumni newsletter (or fraternity/sorority alumni organization letter) may prove a solid method for gaining more financial support.

6. Connect with your place of worship

Your personal church, mosque, synagogue, etc. may be willing to hold a special collection during their religious service or general meeting specifically in your honor. Approach the proper leaders to organize this collection and provide any helpful information; it is important to find the best way to communicate your mission, your cause, and your need for support to the people in your network who might be able to contribute to your efforts. Additionally, the religious organization itself may be willing to sponsor you directly!

7. 15 minutes of fame!

Alert local newspapers, radio and television stations about your plans for studying abroad, and see if they are interested in partnering with you for your efforts. Pitch ideas that are mutually beneficial, such as writing regular letters to be published in the local paper or offering to do an interview upon returning. Write an article for your talking about the cause, event or organization you are fundraising for, and ask for donations. This would also be a great way to gather more support for your upcoming fundraising event, such as those outlined in #8!


8. Have a yard sale! Bake sale! Garage sale!

A great way to get the greater community involved in your project, or at the very least aware of your project, is to host your very own sale event. Have friends and family volunteer to help out on the actual day of the event, and to pass out flyers around the community. Get rid of your old junk to make room for new memories (or souvenirs!). Tap into your inner-entrepreneur and discover just how generous even strangers can be.

Are these ideas too black and white? Here are 32 ideas for raising additional funds for your study abroad experience. It is our hope that these ideas will snowball and grow into successful fundraising campaigns for you. Every little bit helps, and besides, you'll never know until you ask!

9. Create a GoFundMe page

This website is an excellent fundraising website. Create a page asking people to help fund your internship abroad. Ask friends & family to donate to your page and post your page on their social media to get others involved.