Before you say “I can’t afford to study abroad,” there are tons of creative fundraising options you should explore. We’ve compiled a list of innovative ways that students in the past have raised money.
ASKING FOR HELP
It can be intimidating asking people to support your program abroad. Two of the biggest things students should remember is: confidence and perseverance.
Who can I ask for help?
Keep local, regional and national groups in mind! It always helps if your study abroad program aligns with the outcomes of your long-term goals.
- Heritage Groups that have interests in specific regions
- Civic Organizations
- Charitable, ethnic, religious or campus organizations
- Sororities/fraternities (local or national chapter)
- Media Companies (newspapers, radio, etc)
- Also consider, FundMyTravel.com – CIS Abroad has a partnership with them, check it out
How can I ask them?
Don’t fear rejection! You won’t always get a “yes!” when you ask for financial support, but remember every little bit helps. Keep up with the enthusiasm, passion and drive on your part!
It is also a good idea to offer them something in return. Upon your return you could perhaps write an article, create a video/vlog/blog, contribute to community service in a business’ name, etc.
Tips for asking for help:
- Be informal but direct
- Explain and describe your program and how it change your life
- Explain how you would use the funds
- Include a photo of yourself
- Make donating as easy as possible (accept check, cash, etc)
- Don’t be afraid to follow up with them
Don’t forget to say “Thanks!”
Be sure to keep a careful and detailed record of all those that have supported you in this journey by donating to help fund your program. It is important to thank them for their contribution, maybe with a postcard from the country you are studying in or an email with a photo of you in country. It is important to express appreciation! Who knows you may inspire them to take a trip of their own because your enthusiasm was so infectious!
CREATIVE FUNDRAISING IDEAS
In addition to fundraising, you should definitely set aside some time to hunt for study abroad grants and scholarships. It may be a no brainer but so many students forget to apply for them!
CIS Abroad programs are among the most affordable you’ll find, but you can still save with CIS Abroad-specific grants and scholarships. Additionally, there are a variety of external sources for financial assistance for study abroad participants.
Finally, make sure to comb through financial aid, scholarships, and grants available from your school – start with your study abroad office, but see what else might be available in your college/department and other campus resources.
Consider fundraising through FundMyTravel, an online fundraising platform where you can easily build a profile, launch your campaign page and instantly share your page to your network of family and friends to help spread the word and encourage more people to donate.
Other web-based crowdsourcing sites include GoFundMe, Indiegogo, Kickstarter, Plumfund and GoEnnounce.
Or, start a blog and include a PayPal or similar donation button.
Is your family connected to a congregation? Reach out to your religious community for help.
Is there a mentor in your life from high school? A family you babysat for when you were young? Try reaching out to those in your neighborhood. Network your name and your life changing mission.
Contact small businesses in your town, particularly organizations that could benefit from first-hand experiences and fresh cultural perspectives. Perhaps you could write for your local paper!
Host a party with the theme of the country you aim to visit.
Gather with your friends who are going with you and have a silent auction.
Start spending less now! While it’s always hard to miss out on fun opportunities, when you have a bit extra to splurge with when you’re abroad to spend on experiences that could last a lifetime, you’ll realize every dollar goes a little further over there!
Start a spreadsheet, use your online banking account, or look into banking/budgeting software (many are free) to see where you can cut costs. Sometimes the mere act of realizing how you spend is enough to encourage you to cut back.
Hoping to look your best while abroad (silly question…)? Host a clothing swap or peruse thrift stores or other second-hand sources. You might be surprised by what you find! Fashion is cyclical after all, so you might just have to dig deep through those bins 😉