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Fundraising Ideas For Your Volunteer Trip

Posted by Jen King on 7/9/14 9:00 AM

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Think money (or, the lack of money) means you can't spend a semester volunteering with ILP?  That won't be the case with these fundraising tips.

Want to know all about fundraising? You are in the right place. We know for many, the costs of traveling abroad are usually what makes it or breaks it — travel is expensive right? Well, it can be, but doesn't have to be! A semester with ILP means your program fee includes airfare, food, housing, visa and culture classes for the entire semester!

Plus, we even have a Guide To Affording A Semester Abroad with more tips you should check out.

Many ILP volunteers have had success with fundraising as they prepared for their semester teaching English abroad. It takes time and effort, but if you find what works for you, it can make all the difference. Here are some examples of what has worked in the past for volunteers:

Fundraising Ideas

  • Send a letter
  • Pick up the phone
  • Host a spaghetti dinner
  • Throw a car wash
  • Ask restaurants
  • Have a yard sale
  • Hand out donation jars
  • Have a dance party
  • Host a concert
  • Start a website or blog 

Send a letter

Send a fundraising letter to your friends and family, stating what you're doing and why you're fundraising. If 10 people donate even $10, that's a great start! Letters are a little less intimidating than asking in person, but show more effort than something like a Facebook post.

Pick up the phone

Want something more personal than a letter? It may be intimidating to ask for donations, but others can hear the excitement in your voice as you explain where you plan to go and what you plan to do. 

One volunteer decided to call everyone that she should would send a wedding invitation to and was able to reach tons of people that way.

Host a spaghetti dinner

Spaghetti is cheap and easy to make and you may even be able to get it donated by a grocery store. Doesn't hurt to ask! Hand out fliers to everyone in your neighborhood or create the event on Facebook, inviting friends and family. Decide what the cost per plate will be and then do a small presentation during dinner explaining what the proceeds will go towards...If you are living in China for a semester, serve spaghetti with chopsticks or try making Thailand's version of spaghetti!

ILP Thailand

Throw a car wash

If the weather permits, a car wash is always a fun way to earn money for a good cause! Recruit friends (or your younger siblings) to help you out.  You can often find small businesses who will allow a car wash on their property, especially if it brings in some business for them.  

Ask Restaurants

Many restaurants are willing to help with fundraisers for non-profit organizations (which ILP is!). Check with restaurants in your area to see if a percentage of their proceeds could go to your cause of helping children to learn English. Check out this website for ideas.

Have a yard sale

This has been a popular one with many volunteers. Get items donated and then hold a yard sale....that way, you get 100% of the money!  Find a "Yard Sale How To" here.

Hand out donation jars

You know how you walk into a small business and they have a jar at the cash register with a picture on it so cute or heart wrenching that you just can't NOT put your change in? Do that! Guilt people into donating for your cause. It works, people.  Talk to local businesses that you think might be willing. Ask if they wouldn't mind setting out you donation jar. Cut out cute picture of the kids, add an easy to use tag line like "donate to help me teach English in Thailand" and leave them with the business. Come back in a couple weeks and see if you had any luck.

ILP Thailand

Have a dance party

Everyone loves to dance, so give them a place to do it. Make a Facebook event or pass out fliers to friends. Send a mass text invite letting everyone know that you're hosting a dance party to raise money to help you serve abroad. Find a free venue like a park, parking lot, or church building. Charge an entrance fee and dance the night away!

Host a concert

If you or anyone you know is musically talented, hold a benefit concert. Let people know that you are funding a semester abroad, charge an entrance fee and share your talents. One volunteer hosted a stand-up comedy night and was able to raise money and school supplies for her semester —get the details here. 

Start a website or blog

There are many websites out there that let you set up a profile, add a Pay Pal button (or a donate button offered by the website), and receive donations online. You could set up a blog where those who donate will be able to see what you're doing throughout your semester. Just add a PayPal button to your sidebar.  

Send out a link to your page so that others know where to donate. While it's convenient for people to make donations online, be aware that a small percentage goes back to Pay Pal or whichever organization you choose. Read the fine print to know how much money you'll lose with this option.

Pst: We have a list of the best (low-cost or free!) websites to use for fundraising to help you out

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ILP Volunteer Jerem T. used Wix to create a website and was able to fundraise his entire program fee. He said he received donations from people he wouldn't have even thought to ask. Others have had success with Go Fund Me, but beware as they have higher fees.

Want more help?  To talk to an ILP rep about what they did to afford their semester abroad; just click that button below! 

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Topics: Semester Preparation, Saving Money

Exploring The World For Over 25 Years

Hi! We are ILP, a non-profit org that has service abroad opportunities for college-age volunteers. Check out our tips for making the most of your time traveling and living abroad.

ILP Semester Abroad

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