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Tons Of Fundraising Ideas For Your Volunteer Trip

Posted by Auvi Evans on 6/18/19 9:00 AM

ILP Adventure

Feeling a little intimidated by the costs to travel abroad? ILP Volunteers have paid for a huge chunk (and sometimes all of it!) by fundraising and we've gathered all of their tips here.

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!

Need more fundraising help?
We have this guide that’s all about fundraising 

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, broken up into different categories depending on what would work best for you: 

Reach Out To Friends and Family

One of the easiest ways to fundraise is to talk to friends and family so they know what you are doing abroad! Tell them about the service you will be giving, the experiences you can have, and how grateful and excited you are for this opportunity. Reaching out can be a little intimidating but here are a few easy ways to do it!

Use Your Instagram Stories

One of the coolest and easiest ways to fundraise is right through your Instagram! It's quick to set it all up through your Instagram stories and easy for people to donate with a few clicks of a button. The money is sent right to ILP (no extra fees or money taken out) and we can put it all towards your program fee.

Here are all the details to get that set up. 

instagram fundraiser

Use Facebook

A lot of volunteers have had great luck using Facebook to fundraise for their trip. It's the same idea as Instagram stories, but you'll share a link on Facebook instead. Make sure you read our tips on how to set it up correctly.

Use A Website

You've definitely seen GoFundMe fundraisers popping up in your social media right? It can be an option, but unfortunately they do take a percentage of what you earn (2.9% + $0.30 per transaction). Here's how it works. 

Because of that fee, we suggest using another web platform, like Facebook, or one of these online fundraisers

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. Here's a little more help when it comes to writing a letter. 

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.

Sell T-Shirts

Everyone loves a good T-shirt so incorporate that into your fundraising. Design a cute t-shirt talking about your cause and get your friends and family on board so everyone has matching shirts! Here is how to pull that off. 

Teach English abroad with ILP

Host Some Challenges 

Invite your friends, your neighbors, or post it on Facebook, but sometimes that competitive edge is what you need to fundraise the last bit for your semester abroad. Here are a few ideas to get you started, though there really are limitless options:

Have A Guessing Game Night

Invite friends and family over and see how good they are at guessing. You can fill various jars with anything you have on hand (candies, popcorn kernels, jelly beans, beads, etc). Everyone in attendance can pay $1 to guess the number of items in each jar. Have multiple jars and let people have multiple guesses to raise money. 

At the end of the evening, look at the guesses and award the winners, who get to take the jar home. 

Do A Beard Challenge

If you have a competitive friend group, this will work quite well. Raise money for your semester abroad by hosting a "beard challenge". People can donate $5 to challenge someone to grow a beard for 1 week. a $10 donation would be a 2-week beard growing challenge, and $15 would be a three week challenge. For $20, someone could challenge a friend to grow a beard for one full month. 

At the end of your challenge, host a party where you can have people pay $1 to  vote on which participant grew the best beard overall, and the winners for the 1 week category, the 2 week category, and the 3 week category.  The winners get a prestigious title, and you've raise quite a bit of money! 

Have An Envelope Challenge

All you'll need to supply is some time and the cost of 100 envelopes. Invite your friends and family over and display 100 envelopes, each with a number from 1-100 labeled on it. Your friends and family each will choose an envelope and  donate the amount labeled on the envelope. 

So for example, your friend comes over and puts $5 in the envelope labeled with #5. Once that envelope has been chosen, it's removed from the pile or the display. Friends can work together to fill an envelope if they'd like (two people can add $25 to fill the #50 envelope). Hopefully by the end of the night, you have all the envelopes filled. 

This idea might work in addition to another idea, like hosting a movie night where you supply the film, the chairs and the popcorn, and people donate in an envelope for "admission" to your event. 

Volunteering Abroad with ILP

Get Your Community Involved

Get the word out to your community about what you are doing! There are a million things you can do, here are a few to help you get you ideas rolling. 

Sell Yummy Treats

Bake sales are the classic "fundraising event" and many of our volunteers have had great success with this. Get creative with how you sell the treats and branch out to other ways like Grace and Ashley, past ILP volunteers did. Grace sold cookie dough and made thousands of dollars to go towards her semester abroad and Ashley did a unique bake sale on Instagram to raise fund for her trip. Here are the details on what they did here. 

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.

Host A Lantern Release

In love with those dreamy lantern releases? Us too, so we think you'll have good luck hosting your own. See if any friends or family members would be willing to donate the lanterns (you can purchase paper lanterns on Amazon) or charge a slightly higher cost per lantern to help raise money. Like most things, people may be willing to donate more for the cost of the lantern if it's for a good cause. 

Try A Balloon Raffle 

First, see if anyone is willing to donate a couple of prizes for your raffle. You could have donated meals or desserts, services (like free snow shoveling or baby sitting) or small DIY presents (like bath salts or salt scrubs). Create numbered tickets and put them inside each balloon. Once your guests arrive, have them purchase a balloon for $1 (or more). Since each balloon contains just one ticket, chance are higher if they purchase more tickets. 

Have guests line up and pop their balloons to reveal the winning raffle tickets. 

Host An Art Show Or A Car Show

Have talented friends? Find a room in your house or apartment and spread the word that there will be a fancy art show at your place. Have friends submit their work and invite their friends and roommates to attend (charge admission or ask for donations for your event. Even if you have a $2 fee to come, people may donate more). 

You can even have an auction where you auction off the artwork to raise even more. 

The same idea works with a car show. If you have friends or neighbors or coworkers who would love the chance to show off their antique cars or fancy cars (or junky cars), drive the cars to an empty lot and charge admission to see the display. 

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.

Have A Dance Party

Everyone loves to dance, so give them a place to do it. Make a Facebook event, pass out fliers to friends, and advertise it in in your neighborhood and town. 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 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 — it may be rather fun to serve foods from the country/region you are volunteering in if you're up for the challenge (have an Asian inspired version of pasta for an example)

Or, forget the idea of spaghetti and just serve dishes/snacks that are particular to where you are volunteering — tropical fruits, yummy juices, beans and rice with fried plantains, tacos, etc. 

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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.

Have A Pet Party

Throw a birthday party for your furry friends. Invite everyone to come to a doggie birthday party and donate towards your semester abroad. Make sure to have bowls of water (and see if any local pet stores would be willing to donate treats for your pets or make your own) as party favors for the guests of honor. You can make this as low-key or as fancy as you'd like.

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 more questions about fundraising or volunteering with ILP?

We have representatives in the office who love to talk to volunteers and share their own experiences with the program! Whether you are still deciding if ILP is right for you or you know it is and your ready to go, talk to a rep and ask any questions you have!

Click the button below to get connected with a rep!

 Text Me! I've Got Questions


Topics: Get Ready For Your ILP Trip, Saving Money + Fundraising

Hey friends!

We are ILP, a Utah-based non-profit org that has service abroad opportunities for college-age volunteers. We love travel so we're sharing all our tips for making the most of your time living abroad + seeing the world, and how to do it all on the tiniest budget.

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