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Fundraising for Study Abroad

When you are asking others for financial support for your global experience, it is not just about the money.  It is about the cause that you believe in and the education that you are going to receive.  The money is just the means to achieving a particular end so focus on the goals and potential outcomes of your involvement in the project and then ask people to invest in you and the project.

To be successful you have to confront and get over any personal fears of asking others for money.  The worst that can happen is that someone might say no; but it is definitely a no if you don’t ask. Instead, focus your energy on how to say thank you and on learning how to gracefully handle any no you might receive.
Suggestions for Fundraising Steps:
  1. Research organizations in your local community that might be interested in investing in your participation in the project.  These organizations may include your home religious institution (if you have one), local service organizations (Rotary International, Optimists, Kiwanis, Lions, and the like).  There may also be other organizations in your home community that might be interested in supporting your participation in the program in exchange for a presentation afterwards.  Compile this list and either begin reaching out or bring your list back with you to campus.
  2. Identify potential supporters.  These are the individuals who may be interested in supporting you and investing in your education and community service experiences.  Get creative. Think of not only immediate family members but also include your friends, your neighbors, your piano teacher, that great high school teacher who helped you discover your interest and that you still keep in touch with, other members of any clubs or organizations that you belong to like the members of your volleyball team, sorority or club. Every $5, $10, $20 adds up.
  3. Figure Out how YOU can personally contribute to the expense of the trip.  You may want to decrease your daily expenses, sell used or unused items on ebay or or on the Albion google list.  You may want to submit your taxes early so that you can receive your reimbursement (if you have one coming) before the trip.  You might want to take on a part-time job helping out a professor on campus for example. Maybe you have a particular skill or talent that can help you raise money – perhaps you make jewelry and can sell it at a craft fair (or perhaps we can host a craft fair), perhaps you are a skilled musician and you’d be willing to give a concert with a low ticket price.  Maybe you are skilled in foreign language or math and can tutor local kids over the break.Begin outlining a personal fundraising plan.  Think of what activities you are willing to participate in in order to raise money for the trip and estimate how much money you think you can earn from each.  You may want to draw on the brainstorm list but you may also come up with additional ideas. 
  4. Write your “ask” letter.  Before you start writing your letter and before you start asking people for money you should develop the answers to some important questions. 
    • What do you hope to gain from this experience?
    • How will your participation in the program make a difference to you in terms of achieving your academic, professional or personal goals?
    • What do you hope to contribute to those you meet or through your activities in the program?
    • How will you share with others what you have learned when you return home?
    • What are the goals of the program and what will you do during the program?
    • Who else will benefit from your participation in the program?
You may want to draw significantly on the essay that you were asked to write during your application process.  Once you have answered these questions, write your letter. I do suggest giving a letter to all those that you ask to support you – even your parents and grandparents who you might otherwise speak to in person.  It shows them that you are serious about the fundraising effort and that you are taking formal and professional steps to raise money for your experience. You can also control exactly what you say and how you say it in the letter.  You can always follow up in person after you’ve given them the letter or you may talk to them in person and hand them a letter for them to read and reflect on.
More Details on Writing Letters and Collecting the Funds
  • Once your letter is completed you may either email or print your letters.  You may print in color or black and white
  • You may want to include a pre-addressed envelope (don’t include the stamp because that can be personally costly).  Pre-addressing an envelope can make sure it gets exactly where you want it to go.
  • Make a specific request.  
  • If you are mailing your letters you may want to personalize them by signing your own signature and a short note.  For example, “Thanks for your consideration” or “I’d really appreciate any support that you might be able to give.”