Other Funding Options

Ideas for Creative Fundraising

First, figure out how much you’ll need for your study abroad experience and how much you or your family can contribute. Next, write a detailed proposal with your goals, courses you plan to take, and how the experience will serve you in the future, both academically and professionally. Be prepared to present your proposal either orally or in written form.

Remember: No one is likely to give you ANYTHING unless they see you are willing to put in the effort to write a good essay, put together a good proposal, or offer something back after you return from your trip.

For starters, try a crowdfunding website.  Go Fund Me is a popular website which allows you to collect donations from friends and family.  It also interfaces with Twitter and Facebook, so it makes it easier to get your message out.  In addition, STA Travel has a program that lets you pay for your airline ticket over time; this can be helpful while you raise money.  In addition, here are some other ideas for funding your study abroad:

Possible Contributors

  • 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)
  • Sororities and fraternities (local and national chapters)
  • Vocational rehabilitation agencies (for students with disabilities)
  • Charitable, ethnic, religious and campus organizations
  • Extended family and family friends
  • Your parents’ employers (they may have a scholarship program for employees’ children)

Possible Methods

  • Ask to use frequent flyer mileage from family and friends.
  • Ask for matching funds from friends, family, or other interested parties (i.e., if you have $1,000, ask for $200 from five people, or $100 from ten people).
  • Contact local community groups or chapters who may help with fundraising (e.g. Lions, Kiwanis, Rotary).
  • Contact local businesses related to your field of study or the country you want to study in.
  • Contact individuals who are sympathetic to your goals (e.g., people who are first-generation college grads, have the same ethnic background, have similar academic areas of specialization, or are in the career field that you are interested in).
  • Contact alumni of the program you are interested in.
  • If you have a special talent (e.g., in music, dance, theater, or art), put on a performance or exhibit and charge admission, with all proceeds going toward your study abroad experience.


Fundraising can serve as a way to educate the public. In exchange for your financial support, you should pledge to “give something back.” Some donors are more likely to help you out if they see that you are willing to give back to the community upon your return. Here are some ideas:

  • Contact your local newspaper to see if there are paid opportunities to write a series of columns or send photos from abroad
  • Write an article for a travel magazine
  • Show a video from your experience
  • Create a web site
  • Sponsor a local or regional dinner or presentation
  • Lead a discussion or seminar
  • Organize a campus or community forum with a theme from your experience
  • 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


  • Go local. Staying local helps because smaller, private businesses don’t usually have to cut through so much bureaucratic red tape.
  • Be creative. Prepare a folder of information about the program, the location, and yourself. Anyone reading the packet would get to know you personally and feel connected (through strategically written cover letters) to the project.
  • Get organized. Keep a spreadsheet of contact information and interactions with the businesses you approach. When things seem like a mess (and they will when you get a lot of requests out!), open the spreadsheet and know at a glance what was going on.
  • Know the program. Ask for information and pictures about the program that would help you become an expert in all aspects of the program. Research the culture, customs, and industries – so you know exactly how your experience will benefit yourself and/or the community.
  • Don’t give up. Odds are, you’ll face more rejection than success. Checks rarely arrive in the mail without a second phone call. Careful reminders and persistence are key.
  • Talk to everyone. Ask your orthodontist and the place where you get your oil changed. Maybe your landlord studied/worked/lived in the country you are going to. You never know where your connections can take you!
  • 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, personal travel, special projects, etc.). Enthusiasm, creativity, and perseverance on your part – and not fearing rejection – will likely take you a long way.

Other Ideas

  • In lieu of holiday and birthday gifts, 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 donate 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.
  • Ask your church, synagogue or temple to sponsor a special offering, dinner, or raffle and give the proceeds to study abroad.
  • Organize a radio talk show and solicit contributions.
  • Find out if your parents’ employers have a scholarship program for their children or find out if your employer will make a cash advance to be paid back through payroll deduction. No harm in asking!
  • Double work: sell T-shirts at a 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.
  • Collect cans during football tailgating (be sure to identify yourself and your purpose so fans will readily pass on their cans and bottles).
  • Sell coffee and baked goods with a sign stating your purpose.

Final Thoughts

Keep careful records of who supported you and the amount. Be sure to express your appreciation for their support and follow through on any commitments you make. Your energy and enthusiasm for an international experience will be contagious! Good luck!

These tips have been compiled from “Paying for your Trip: How to Raise Money,” Natalie Andrews, Student Traveler Magazine, December 2006; “Ideas for Creative Fundraising,” Michigan State University’s Office of Study Abroad; and GSU staff experience.