Ideas for Creative Fundraising

Studying abroad is a large financial commitment, but one that can pay off both personally and professionally.  You cannot afford not to go!  There are many ways to creatively raise funds for your studies.  Here are a couple that have really worked for other students.


Write a brief essay or proposal (1-2) that describes the trip you would like to take and the impact that it will have on your studies, professional or personal development, or community involvement. Include what you would be willing to do in return for financial support – such as providing public presentations about your trip after your return, sharing travel pictures, writing a final reflection essay to share the impact of their donation, teaching a craft or cooking a meal from the culture you visited, etc. (use your creativity).  PLEASE NOTE: No one is likely to give you anything unless you are willing to put in the effort to write a good essay or proposal (the Global Learning Office can help you review it), present yourself professionally, and/or offer something back after you return from your trip.


1. Collect pledges or donations from friends and family - format your proposal into a personal letter and request support directly from relatives, friends, former teachers, mentors, etc.  You can ask for direct donations or loans that you would repay over time.

2. In lieu of holiday and birthday gifts, request financial support or loans instead.

2. Build a fundraising website - use the tools on or to create an easy place for supporters to provide money directly for your goal.

3. Ask your employer - they may have scholarships available or allow individuals to raise money amongst co-workers.  We had one student offer to wear a T-shirt with her companies logo on it throughout her trip and share the pictures in return for financial support.

4. Sell

  • Have a yard or garage sale - ask your friends or family to donate items they no longer need
  • Have a bake sale or car wash
  • Offer a service to friends or family - painting, cleaning, washing cars, etc
  • Sell your skills - offer an hour of instruction in something you are skilled at, such as cooking, computer skills, dancing, foreign languages, etc


5. Explore Community Support - contact local organizations and see if you can get a face-to-face meeting to discuss your proposal.  It is always helpful to start local and with organizations you are already an active member of.

  • Local place(s) of worship or religious organizations - they may be able to assist you directly or provide you a space for a fundraising sale or party.
  • Community Organizations - focus on organizations that have links to the region that you would like to travel to or to your area of study
  • Service Clubs - inquire at your local Lions, Kiwanis, Elks or other service clubs
  • Rotary Clubs - write or call your local chapter to see if you qualify for a Rotary scholarship
  • Your High School - ask a counselor or old teacher if you can seek funding in return for providing presentation(s)
  • Town Hall - ask if there are any local scholarships that you are eligible for
  • Chamber of Commerce - contact your local chamber of commerce to see if there are any opportunities. They should be able to provide you with a list of local or family owned businesses who may be in a position to help you.


TIPS ...

  • Start early - it is never too early!
  • Go local - local businesses and organizations may be more willing to invest in you.
  • Be creative - use your own skills and talents.
  • Get organized - keep a spreadsheet of contact information and interactions with organizations you approach.
  • Know your program - be prepared to answer specific questions about your program, your need and yourself.
  • Talk to everyone - your dentist, your landlord, everyone. It will give you practice and you never know who may have studied/lived abroad.
  • Numbers - Make a list of potential donors - and then double it. If you ask enough people, you can afford a lot of rejection and still meet your goal.
  • Be Direct - Direct, informal appeals often work best. Try to visit the donor in person. Be specific on how you intend to spend the funds (airfare, program fee, tuition, etc.).
  • Don't Give Up - Enthusiasm, creativity, and perseverance on your part - and not fearing rejection - will likely take you a long way.