Fundraising will help to make your trip more affordable and serves as a way to educate the public.
If you select a program that helps 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 interests in specific countries (e.g. Japan America Society)
- Civic groups (Rotary, Kiwanis, and Lions Clubs)
- Agencies and foundations
- Travel agencies
- High school alumni associations
- Professional and business clubs
- Media (newspapers, radio and TV)
- Vocational rehabilitation agencies (for students with disabilities)
- Charitable, ethnic, religious and campus organizations
Direct, informal appeals often work best. Be specific on how you intend to spend the funds (airfare, program fee, tuition, personal travel, special projects, etc.). Include a photo of yourself with your request so that the receiver will establish a personal connection with you. Make donating as easy as possible (cash, check, or online contribution), so that you’re more likely to get an actual donation rather than a promise to donate, and don’t be afraid to follow up if you haven’t received a response. Enthusiasm, creativity, and perseverance on your part – and not fearing rejection in some instances – will likely take you a long way. Remember every little bit helps!
Sharing Your Experience
In exchange for your financial support, you should pledge to “give something back,” such as regular updates while you are abroad. Alternatively, upon your return you could:
- Write an article
- Show a video from your experience
- Create a Web site or blog
- Sponsor a regional dinner or presentation
- 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
- Help others to have a similar international experience
There are some helpful tools available at Fund My Travel, Project Travel, or GoFundMe.
Creative Fundraising Ideas
- Waive holiday and birthday gifts and request financial gifts or loans instead.
- Write a creative letter to all your relatives, asking for financial support in exchange for monthly letters while abroad and a presentation and dinner upon return.
- Ask friends to join you in raising money by painting, cleaning, or washing cars.
- Organize an event where you and/or some friends solicit donations by providing instruction for a couple of hours (cooking, quilting, yoga, karate, computer skills, dancing, sign language, stained glass, woodworking, etc.).
- Collect used books, CD’s, computer software, etc. and have a sale.
- Organize a radio talk show and solicit contributions.
- Approach stores for donated supplies such as clothing, camping gear, etc.
- Find out if your parents’ employers have a scholarship program for employee children or find out if your employer will sponsor you. No harm in asking!
- Combine fundraising opportunities: sell T-shirts at a fundraising dance marathon.
- In exchange for the use of your car while you’re gone, have a friend or sibling make all or part of your car payments.
- Organize a can drive in the residence halls.
- Sell coffee and baked goods with a sign stating your purpose.
- Ask family members to donate frequent flyer miles.
- Save all your spare change in a jar – small amounts can really add up! Ask friends and family to donate their spare change too.
- SAVE, SAVE, SAVE!
Keys to successful fundraising: confidence and perseverance.
Keep careful records 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!
Don’t forget to apply for the many education abroad scholarships available through UMW and external organizations.