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Creative Fundraising

Creative Fundraising Ideas

Fundraising will help to make your overseas experience more affordable and serves as a way to educate the public. If you select a program that helps to achieve your long-term goals, it will be easier to solicit funds from external sources.
  • Keep in mind that local, regional, and national groups, as well as individuals, are all possible contributors. They include: heritage groups that have interest in specific countries (e.g., Japan America Society), civic groups (Rotary, Kiwanis, and Lions Clubs), foundations, travel agents, high school alumni associations, professional and business clubs, media (newspapers, radio, and TV stations), sororities and fraternities (local and national chapters), and charitable, ethnic, religious, and campus organizations.
  • Direct, informal appeals often work. Be specific as to how you intend to spend the funds (airfare, program fee, tuition, personal travel, special projects, etc.) Include a photo of yourself with your requests so that the recipient will establish a personal connection with you. Enthusiasm, creativity, and perseverance on your part, and not fearing rejection in some instances, will likely take you a long way.
In exchange for financial support, you should pledge to 'give something back, such as regular updates while you are abroad, or upon your return, write an article; show a video or slides of your experience; lead a discussion or seminar; organize a topical campus or community forum; promote educational and business exchanges; participate in radio and televised interviews and broadcasts; contribute community service and outreach; or help others to have a similar international experience.

Ideas That Have Worked!

  • Waive holiday and birthday gifts and request financial gifts or loans instead.
  • Subscribe to a fund-raising website like:
  • Write a creative letter to all of your relatives and family friends, asking for financial support in exchange for monthly letters while abroad and a presentation and dinner upon your return.
  • Contact your local newspaper and ask to be paid for a series of columns to be sent from abroad.
  • Hold a bake sale, garage, flea, or rummage sale.
  • Ask friends to join you in raising money by painting, cleaning, or car wash services.
  • Organize an event where you and/or some friends offer workshops for a reasonable fee (computer skills, cooking, quilting, yoga, karate, dancing, sign language, stained glass, woodworking, etc.).
  • Collect used books, CDs, computer software, etc. and have a sale.
  • Ask your church, synagogue, mosque, or temple to sponsor a special offering, dinner, or raffle and give the proceeds for study abroad.
  • Approach stores for donated supplies (such as clothes, camping gear, equipment, etc.).
  • Find out if your parents' employers have a scholarship program for their children.
  • Ask your employer to make a cash advance to be paid back through payroll deduction. (No harm in asking!)
  • In exchange for the use of your car while you're gone, ask a friend or sibling to make all or part of your car payments.
  • Organize a can/bottle drive in the residence halls.
  • Investigate getting paid to assist with special event parking or to clean up a venue where an event has been held and ask your friends to join you.

Keep a careful record of who supported you and the amount. Be sure to express your appreciation for their support. Your energy and enthusiasm for an international experience will be contagious! Good luck.