One common study abroad misconception is that studying abroad isn’t affordable for most students. While there are costs associated with studying abroad, many students find that with proper planning they can finance their experience through a combination of financial aid through their home college, study abroad scholarships and grants, careful saving and creative fundraising for study abroad.
Many students forget to consider fundraising opportunities that are available to help them achieve their study abroad goals. Below are two types of fundraising to consider and some tips to make fundraising efforts successful.
Contact Local Organizations
One fundraising technique is to research and contact active service organizations in your community such as Rotary International or Lions Club. You can send them a letter about your study abroad program, your personal, academic and professional goals for your study abroad experience, and the ways in which you feel studying abroad will help you to become a more informed and engaged member of your local community when you return. In the letter, you can inquire if there is any support they can provide to make help you achieve your goal of studying abroad and offer to talk about your experience at one of their meetings after you return.
Start an Online Fundraising Campaign
Another fundraising technique is to use an online campaign to request donations. FundMyTravel is a crowd souring platform designed specifically for travel that allows you to set up a fundraising campaign. BCA Study Abroad has partnered with Fund My Travel to provide our students with access to this platform.
Here are a few tips to consider when creating your Fund My Travel Campaign.
- Start your campaign early! If you are planning studying abroad during your college career, start planning early to help you achieve your goal. Students who begin to fundraise at least a year prior to studying abroad have the best chance to raise the most money toward their program. For some students, starting even earlier allows even more time for family and friends to make donations in lieu of birthday and holiday gifts in the years prior to their study abroad term.
- Don’t expect to raise the full cost of your study abroad experience! Asking for your entire program cost to be covered via fundraising can be off putting to potential donors. It’s important that they know that you have put in the work to save for the experience on your own and to seek out scholarships, grants and other opportunities. People will also be more likely to want to help you reach your goal if they think that your goal is realistic and achievable. Think about identifying some specific costs associated with your study abroad experience, such as airfare, meals, passport or visa fees, or living expenses, that people can help you save toward.
- Share your personal story and study abroad goals! Unfortunately, some people still incorrectly associate studying abroad only with having fun. While studying abroad is fun, you know that it is so much more than that! For many students studying abroad allows them to take courses that aren’t offered on their home campus, build their resume through internship or research opportunities, live with a host family or local students, and become immersed in a new culture and way of life. Through BCA programs you also have the opportunity to connect to local organizations in your host country, explore peace and social justice themes and reflect on your experience and place in the world. Share your personal and professional goals with potential donors so they know that they aren’t only helping you to have fun and see the world, but also to develop and grow as an individual and global citizen.
- Use photos and videos! People love visuals so be sure to add photos and videos to your page. Along with your goals, these help potential donors get to know you and your story. You can also use these photos and any videos you create about your campaign to promote your page on your other social media accounts. Not sure what to say? Watch some other kick-start videos to get ideas about how to share your story!
- Keep sharing! Once you have your page created, you should send out emails to friends and family to tell them about your campaign. You should also share your campaign on social media. However, to have a truly successful campaign you will need to remind people about your ongoing fundraising efforts and study abroad goal. Build momentum with each post and remember to thank those who have already contributed. Start your campaign with a great foundation and add to the story as your share.
- Consider using donor rewards and keeping people updated while you are abroad! Donors will want to feel connected to you and your experience while abroad. Consider keeping a blog to allow everyone to follow your journey. Or, offer a few small donor rewards as part of your campaign for people who donate at a certain level. For example, you could offer to send a postcard to anyone who donates $25 or more. Helping people feel like they are a part of your experience may help your campaign be more successful. Make sure to thank those who helped you once you’re in-country.
If you are creative and passionate there are lots of ways to raise and save money for your study abroad program. Don’t bafraid to reach out to organizations and individuals to help achieve your goals!