Fundraising Your Abroad Experience

Top 20 Ways to Fundraise Your Abroad Experience

  1. Send Letters to friends, relatives, acquaintances, old teachers, coworkers, and professors.
    • If you choose snail mail, be sure to include information about yourself (e.g., a photo)
    • Emit enthusiasm about the upcoming experience
    • Connect with the reader: what led to your decision to go abroad, details on the nature of the program, and ways the experience is an investment in your future
    • Ask for a specific amount of money ($50-$100 is standard)
    • ALWAYS follow up with a “thank you” letter (hand written) and keep in touch with supporters while you are abroad
    • Sample-Fundraising-Letter-130213.doc
  2. Use your contacts from #1 to contact THEIR contacts.
    • Network! If someone supports you, ask them if they would pass on your letter to colleagues and friends
    • Consider asking close friends and famly to write letters on your behalf
  3. Storm local businesses
    • Focus your energy on smaller businesses in your hometown or here in Memphis
    • Your local Chamber of Commerce may be able to provide a list of contact information for most nearby businesses
    • Connect with the businesses: send them a letter or hand-deliver your sponsorship request and introduce yourself to the staff
    • Follow up with phone calls
    • Be direct and polite, asking for a specific amount of money
    • If you have a fundraising event, ask a local business to donate products to raffle off or partner with them to host/sponsor the event
  4. Have a fundraising party!
    • Host a community event (e.g., spaghetti dinners or pancake breakfasts)
    • Raffles or entrance charges can raise funds too
  5. Tap into your hometown resources
    • Turn to community groups and alumni associations
    • Research local civic groups (e.g., Rotary, Elks, Kiwanis, Lions, etc.)
    • Offer to hold an educational seminar or presentation about your travels for the group upon your return
  6. Connect with your place of worship
    • Your church, mosque, synagogue, etc. may be willing to hold a special collection during their religious service or general meetings specifically in your honor
    • Approach the leaders of the collection and provide information about yourself and your trip
    • Communicate your mission, cause, and need for support
  7. 15 minutes of fame!
    • Contact local newspapers, radio and television stations and see if someone is interested in helping you
    • Pitch ideas that are mutually beneficial (e.g., writing regular letters to be published in the local paper or offering to do an interview upon your return)
    • Write an article about your cause, details of your trip, and how someone could donate to you
  8. Have a yard sale! Bake sale! Garage sale!
    • Have friends and family volunteer to help out on the actual day of the event and to pass out flyers in the community
  9. Create a fundraising website!
    The following sites are but a few to consider:
  10. Virtual networking via social media platforms 
    • Include details of your yourself, your trip, and where people can go to donate
  11. Ask family members to donate frequent flyer miles
  12. For holidays or birthdays, ask for financial gifts in lieu of the usual 
  13. Ask a campus organization to sponsor a party for you (sorority, etc.)
  14. Offer photos from your host country for a $10 donation
    • Pictures can be of people! Landscapes! Animals! Buildings!
  15. Create cookbooks with your favorite recipes and sell them
    • Get your friends' recipes, too!
  16. Run errands or do chores for people
    • Dog walking, grocery pickup, washing their car, babysitting... 
  17. Do yard work in your neighborhood
  18. Offer public classes or private lessons
    • Dancing, self-defense, foreign languages, cooking, painting, or any other skill you have
  19. Request donations from people who frequent your favorite spots
    • Got a favorite coffee shop?  Hair stylist?  Donut place?  Ask if they'll let you put a donation can by the register
  20. Create and sell a custom calendar
    • Plan on using 12-14 awesome pictures from your time abroad
    • Pre-determine the cost of each calendar, then request donations (up to) doubling the cost you'll have to pay to create the calendar
    • Get your supporters to pay up front
    • Plan to have the finished calendar (with thank you note!) in your supporter's hands no later than one month past your return

Always remind your donors exactly what their support will make possible and that your desire to experience life abroad would not be possible without their help.

Some creativity, a dose of confidence, and a great deal of perseverance will prove successful on this financial journey!