We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.
After efforts in applying to a study abroad program, even if you’re not accepted yet, it would be a good (and wise) thing to start funding for the trip. When one thinks of fundraising, most draw a blank; however, there are so many ways to raise money. In this post, I’ll share some of the things I did in order to fund my trip abroad.
- Ask Family and Friends: This is first on the list because it is the most convenient. Ask Mom, Dad, siblings aunts, uncles, cousins, friends, and even teachers to help contribute to your abroad trip. Tell people through media: Facebook, Twitter, etc. It doesn’t have to be a large amount because money adds up. However, if they can’t do that much, ask them to spread the word. Ask family and friends to ask their family and friends for support. (For me, I was hesitant about asking family for money and support because I rarely called any of them to even say hello. So, it just didn’t feel right to ask them for money, but after a little push from my mother and uncle, I did so (a little)).
- Fundraising Sites: This was new to me coming into fundraising. I had never heard of fundraising sites until my aunt introduced them to me. With her recommendation, I set up a fundraising account on GoFundMe. There, with the help of family, friends, friends of friends, and even strangers, I raised over $1,000. Look up other fundraising sites. There are so many.
- Donation Letters: I actually got this idea from my dad. With his help, I wrote donation letters and had them sent out to local businesses, families, and organizations, asking for their support and contributions. About a fraction of them actually responded and contributed, but hey! Money is money.
- Sell Things: This fundraising idea was a little new to me as well. Besides selling my art, I had never really sold anything of mine before. However, I actually had fun sifting through my old items and clothes, finding things I no longer used and selling them. Whatever I thought was no longer needed, I’d sell it on eBay. I’d sell jewelry, games, clothes (which I’d sell at Plato’s Closet too), electronics, etc. And I admit, whenever my mom tried to send something to Good Will, I’d check to see if it was sellable. It might have been egotistic, but hey, you got to do what you got to do.
- Surveys: I’m not talking about your average class survey. I’m talking about online surveys for companies, products, and organizations. This is actually a pretty cool way to earn money. Look up survey sides like Cash Crate and Inbox Dollars and complete as many surveys as you can. Before you know it, you’ll have a check in the mail. (Disclaimer: the amount of money you can earn from online surveys can range from $0.01 to $50+. At the sites I used (Inbox Dollar and Cash Crate), it took a while to earn money because the paid prices mostly ranged from $0.01 to $5. However, the higher the paid price of a survey, the more you have to do and the more risky it is (at least I think)).
- Part-time Jobs: Sounds simple, right? Find a part-time job at Wal-Mart, McDonald’s, anywhere! Do odd jobs. Mow someone’s lawn. Rake it! But always remember to put aside some money towards your trip. I sold tickets at my school’s sporting events and earned $25 every day I worked, putting at least $10 aside. Good money!
- Holidays and Special Events: This is a fundraising event where I encourage people to be desperate. How bad do you want it?! Be demanding (not really)! If Christmas is coming up, don’t ask for clothes or electronics; ask for MONEY! If it’s your birthday, settle for a cupcake and ask for $50, and I don’t just mean from your mom and dad. Ask EVERYONE (uncles, aunts, friends) for $50. These are special days. Make the most from them!
- Thank You (Letters): I cannot encourage this enough. When you are fundraising and people actually help and support you, it’s only generous that you send out thank you’s. It’s not asking much. Shoot someone a message on the phone, tell them thank you in person (which I prefer), or send out Thank You Letters. Show gratitude towards the people who have helped. It will only make them want to help you more. 😀
Apply for scholarships. This is a very, very, very important thing to do, and I can’t express this enough. Apply even if you don’t think you’ll get it because, truth is, you never know what will happen. If you don’t like writing, especially essays, still apply. There are some scholarships that don’t require essays. Look for scholarships pertaining to a specific program. Look for general study abroad scholarships online. Websites like StudyAbroad and GoOverSeas are filled with scholarships. (Disclaimer: be sure to check the requirements for the scholarships because some only allow applicants of a certain age, program, country, etc.) Ask an advisor for whatever abroad program you are with.
Here are some scholarships I obtained:
- Financial Aid Scholarship: It surprised me when I heard some people refuse to get financial aid because he or she didn’t want to feel dependent or didn’t want to seem poor. I’m not poor, but I applied to financial aid in a heartbeat because I only had one parent working. If you need help, you need help. Apply for financial aid and see if you are eligible. I did and received almost a fourth of what my trip cost, and my financial aid was funded by a Rosemary Witchrft Scholar Scholarship, which marked me as a great, ambitious leader.
- One World Area (Local) Team Scholarship: This is a scholarship I found out about after asking my AFS in-house interviewer. She sent me an application for a local AFS scholarship for anyone in my area to complete, and I was the one to receive it. It made me so happy!
I thank everyone who has helped me to make this trip possible, especially Mom, Dad, and family! Thank you!
Fundraising is an extreme sport.
Marc A. Pitman