"I ended up getting my whole program fee paid for" and "I earned $1,200 from fundraising letters" are just a few examples of what you could earn by sending out a letter.
Fundraising can seem daunting, but it is so worth the effort. Take it from me! I was able to fundraise almost my full program cost, plus all of the supplies I needed for my ILP semester in Asia. And I'm not alone. In my ILP group alone, one volunteer raised $1,200 while another raised a few thousand, all through sending a fundraising letter. The rest who tried got at least a few hundred versus the ones who were too intimated by fundraising, and paid for everything themselves.
There have been a handful of other volunteers who have raised thousands just by fundraising, most often using multiple approaches. And one of the most successful tactics can be sending out a fundraising letter.
Need more fundraising tips and ideas?
Check out our guide about all things fundraising!
There are tons and tons of ways to fundraise (you'll want to check that link for a list), but this post is all about how to write and send out a fundraising letter. Then, all you'll have to do is follow these tips, and see how many contributions flood in:
Use This Template
We did the work for you and wrote out an example letter that you'll find below. It's just meant to give you an idea of what your letter might look like, don't feel like you need to send it out word for word. We've also included some minimal suggestions before you get reading to help make this letter your own.
A Little Bit Of Advice
- 1. Read through our template (below, under "your letter example")
- 2. Make it personal for you (change your semester, location, and the amount needed) and edit the text so that it sounds like your personal writing style — more advice on that below.
- 3. Print it out or email it, and send it to everyone you know!
Your Letter Example:
Hi! I'm writing to tell you about a goal I'm working towards that I'm so excited about! This Fall, I am headed to Phitsanulok, Thailand for 3.5 months to teach kids English through International Language Programs (ILP). The ability to speak English fluently will be greatly beneficial to these kids, as well as to their families. And I can't wait for the experience of living in another country with a group of other ILP volunteers!
As a volunteer, I am paying a program fee to ILP of $2,970 that will cover major expenses like my flight, housing, and meals. I also have a goal to save an additional $2,000 to be able to travel and have more experiences while I'm there. As a result, I am working and fundraising this summer to meet those goals.
If you're interested in donating, there's a couple of ways that would help! Monetary donations can be made directly to ILP — 100% of your donation goes directly to my trip, and because ILP is an IRS qualified 501 (c)(3) charitable organization, any funds you donate are tax-deductible for you. I'm also gathering supplies that I can use in my English classes. They can be used, so things that you don't need anymore that are just lying around the house would be great. I included a list of items to give you an idea of what is useful.
If you have any questions about the program, please call me at (801) xxx-xxxx or ILP at (801) 374-8854. You can also view the ILP website at: www.ilp.org.
If you're able to contribute in any way, I would love that. Thank you for your support!
Some Tips For Success
There are all sorts of ways you can make your fundraising letter, but we've seen the most success with volunteers who included these elements into their letter:
Make It Personal
You've seen the template you can send (to make things even easier) but feel free to use that as a jumping-off point ... don't be afraid to make it your own! We've seen good success when volunteers get creative (make your letter into a postcard), introduced themselves, make it very personal (included their own picture and their own story), and explain why they wanted to volunteer with ILP (and who ILP is, of course).
Even doing things like signing your name at the bottom and hand-addressing the envelope goes a long way.
Be Clear About How To Send Donations
We've outlined this in the template, but make sure your recipients know how to send along their donations. Past volunteers have included a donation slip which means donations will come straight to ILP and be dedicated to your program fee —because ILP is an IRS qualified 501(c)(3) charitable organization, all donations made that way are tax-deductible.
Payments can also be made by check (make checks payable to International Language Programs, 508 E 800 N #3D, Orem UT 84057). Or payments can be made online at ilp.org/donations.
We have donation slips you can print off and send in each letter — find them in this downloadable, fundraising form.
Donors can also pay their funds directly to you (via a check, cash, or Venmo, etc), but they won't be tax-deductible that way.
If You're Also Asking For Supplies
ILP volunteers are responsible for bringing their teaching supplies, and we wholeheartedly suggest asking these to be donated!
You can get an idea of what school supplies your location needs by logging onto your City Page on my.ilp.org after you've been accepted and assigned. Here are a few other ways to get your supplies for free.
Mention A Few ILP Facts
It's also very handy to mention who you're volunteering with, and a little about the organization! We have this info in the template, but make sure you're including them if you decide to write your own letter:
ILP is a non-profit organization that has been sending volunteers abroad for over 30 years. ILP focuses on helping children in foreign countries learn the English language through a friendly and fun atmosphere. The ability to speak English is a huge skill in a world where English is the international language, and I'm looking forward to the chance to really make a difference and help.
(Also, be sure to mention that donations to ILP are tax-deductible — more information on that above, and in the template letter).
Make Sure You're Using The Right Photos
Oh, and when it comes to pictures, we have a few guidelines. Photos add a lot to your letter, but we want to make sure you have photos you can use.
Most of the pictures on our website and blog posts are pictures from volunteers. They've given ILP permission to use their photos, but we don't necessarily have permission to let anyone use them. Our suggestion? If you see a photo you'd like to use on our Instagram account, check the caption (we credit the volunteer who took them) and send them a DM, asking if you can use their beautiful photo!
You can also access free photos of your country on sites like Unsplash, Pexels, and Pixabay.
Who To Send It To
Send this letter to everyone you can think of! Friends, your whole family, your (and your parents') co-workers, people in your church group, those in your neighborhood and community, people in your sports/music groups/clubs, etc.
Many volunteers in the past mention that they were so surprised by who donated — it wasn't always just close friends or family.
What Worked For Other Volunteers
Facebook posts can also be a quick and successful way to ask people to help fund your trip, but writing out a fundraising letter and mailing it or emailing it shows more effort ... and people do notice that. Check out what these volunteers said about using a letter to fundraise:
“Basically, all I did was send a letter I wrote explaining a little about the ILP program and what I'd be doing. Every year our family sends a Christmas picture and letter to friends and family, so I just sent an ILP letter and donation slip to each of those families on the list. I also sent them to former employers, my doctor, my dentist, and a lot of my friends from school. I was so surprised by how many donations I received! My only suggestion is to send it to everybody you can think of, most people are more than happy to donate!”
- Heidi B., ILP Europe Volunteer
"What worked for me was sending letters to businesses telling them what I was doing and asking for donations... I sent them to businesses that family friends owned or that I (or my family) somehow had a connection with. And then just to some doctors and other big members of the community. I ended up getting my whole program fee paid for!"
-Baylee C., ILP Central America Volunteer
+This volunteer, who made her letter into a cute postcard:
Good luck on fundraising for your semester abroad!
If you still want more tips on how to prepare for your semester abroad, get in touch with an ILP representative who can answer all your questions!