15 Little-Known Study Abroad Fundraising Ideas

by Published

Studying abroad: doing yourself a massive favor and increasing your cultural and academic competencies in a foreign environment. #Boom. When you decide to temporarily step away from your comfort zone, your daily flow, that routine of stress, and instead experience something new, unknown, and most likely rejuvenating. To challenge and potentially change your life in the name of educational pursuits and personal achievements. 

But wait, I thought this article was going to teach me how to fundraise for study abroad? You’re right! And it will.

hands typing on a laptop

Welcome to the future: you don’t have to set up a lemonade stand to fundraise for study abroad! Set up a campaign online instead.

Of course we love to honk the study abroad horn. And it’s not to tickle some fancy. It’s our passion and we think you could benefit from a similar life experience too. Whether you’re just contemplating study abroad or you’ve already been accepted to your dream program in South America, funding is a hurdle that you might need to jump. In fact, most people need to. Funding your studies abroad might not be so obvious and neither are study abroad fundraising ideas. Roll those sleeves up and let’s figure out how you’re going to fundraise your study abroad. 

Below is a compilation of fundraising ideas for study abroad to help you get started. Let the games begin!

Tip #1. Create an online funding campaign.

 ...and share it across your social media platforms. There are a host of online fundraising campaigns that you can choose from. You can even post a short video if you’re really feeling it. The idea is to set a funding goal and to explain it. Be sure to include how you plan to use these funds once they have been successfully raised. FundMyTravel is our go-to.

Tip #2. Sell your work. 

Get creative (literally) with your fundraising ideas for study abroad. Maybe you paint. Or sew. Maybe you create graphics on the side. Promote your art or crafts as an axillary revenue for your study abroad fun. Take some photos of your creative magic and market your goods—sell them! 

You have more talent than you think. Start an Etsy shop, sell it via Facebook marketplace, or pop down to the local farmers market to see how the masses respond to your beautiful creations!

Tip #3. Apply for scholarships!

Though you might not be a writing major, you might need to dust off your pencil and 

eraser. Tweak your study abroad fundraising letter (see below), or put together a statement of purpose for this burning desire to study abroad. You might be surprised by what you write. And it will help you articulate your desire to hit the road.

Maybe you can score a sweet company scholarship. Some companies have professional development funds set aside for their employees. Speak to your current employer to see if they have anything of the sorts. This conversation might surprise you. Maybe you can come up with a mutual agreement that you can abide to upon your return. Or maybe they can provide you with a unofficial zero-interest loan. Have a conversation to explain your situation. Take the initiative.

[Find scholarships for study abroad]

Tip #4. Send letters to family and friends.  

Ask for financial support! It’s normal that you might need a hand, and this is one of those tried and true fundraising ideas for study abroad. Be sure to clearly explain your needs and your intentions—why do you want to study abroad? Clearly express yourself. Create a compelling case so potential donors cannot turn you down. Maybe offer to send personalized postcards once you're abroad as an incentive.

Tip #5. Host a fundraising dinner…

 ...and invite all of your friends. Make a cheap yet delicious meal and ask for a donation. Get your crew together in the name of studying abroad. If you’ve hit it off with a professor or another faculty member, add them to the guest list too. You could really get into it and cook the cuisine of your soon-to-be home away from home. BYOB of course!

hands painting watercolor

Get yo’ Etsy shop set up ASAP! 

Tip #6. Host a fundraising brunch

Brunch. When you’ve slept through breakfast but you can’t wait for lunch. Nourish your friends with a nice Sunday meal. Set a suggested donation price but leave it up to your guests to toss some money into the hat. We have to eat, don’t we?

Tip #7. Run for a cause.

Get your heart pumping with these fundraising ideas for study abroad. Run a road race and ask people to sponsor each kilometer you finish. Perhaps biking is your thing. Find a bike race! Maybe your not so sporty. Sign up for a local dance-a-thon that you can groove to, or perhaps a summer read-a-thon. You’re never too old. The idea is to ask people to pledge to your cause. “For every book you read…”

Marathons are a fun way to get people involved in your cause, and a great opportunity to educate them about the realities of the culture you plan to visit.

Tip #8. Apply for a grant. 

Grants are great. A grant is basically free money and fortunately there are so many topical grants available. Check in with your institution’s office of fellowship or financial aid department and see what they are aware of. You’re not the first student in search of funding, and until education is free for all, you won’t be the last. Reach out to your on-campus professionals. 

[Figuring out Study Abroad Grants]

Tip #9. Donate plasma! 

Though we don’t suggest selling yourself, donating plasma can help save lives and put a little extra cash in your study abroad pocket. This might sound unrealistic but students have certainly done this before. While donating plasma and ultimately earning money, you can sit there and read about your destination. The idea is to exercise your creativity and to find a solution that will work best for you to fund your studies abroad.

Tip #10. Host a can and bottle drive.

What an incentive for cracking a cold one open with the boys. This is an opportunity to collect empties for some cold, hard cash. Do some research to find out what the dealio is where you live. If you live in a state that has a cash return policy on recyclables take advantage of that! Hit up your party throwing friends and see if you can swipe cans and bottles after their next theme party. Free money.

Tip #11. Sell your old school books. 

Though your bookshelf is most likely beautiful, consider cashing in those dust collectors. This includes those high-sticker-price textbooks from last semester, too. Check with your local textbook store about buy-back options. There are numerous online sites that buy used books as well. Shop around to find out where you can earn the most return on an old investment.

woman setting up table for dinner party

Be the hostess with the mostess (and make a little $$$, too!).

Tip #12. Find a a job.

There’s an idea—a job! Have you looked into applying for an on-campus job? If not, consider that promptly. Universities love to employ their students and most of all, they understand the scheduling difficulties of a student’s course schedule. It will also look nice on your resume too. Tutor younger students. Or maybe post a babysitting ad. Search wide and far. It’s all about making some money, honey.

[Get matched with affordable study abroad programs]

Tip #13. Scour Craigslist for odd jobs 

If you’re running low on fundraising ideas for study abroad, and already sent your study abroad fundraising letter out far and wide, you might want to start looking for one-off odd jobs here and there to fill in any gaps! Be smart, and trust your gut if anything looks too weird. We don’t want you to end up as an episode of “My Favorite Murder.” (Not this time, Craigslist Killer!) 

Tip #14. Have a garage sale! 

Clean out the closet and living room. The back seat of your car, too. Maybe your local community already has a community sale. Get in on that! If not, why not organize an event with some of your mates for the end of the semester. Ask you friends and family if they have anything to contribute. Create your own second-hand pop-up shop.

One man's trash, another man's treasure. —Some dead guy 

Tip #15. Trade in your car. 

You think I’m kidding right? News flash, I’m not. Consider trading in your wheels for a public transit pass or a bike. This option is better for the environment and your health! When you don’t have a car you also don’t have auto insurance. Not driving around will free up some time for you to read about your soon-to-be host county. Public transport is a win-win!

BONUS: Here’s a study abroad fundraising letter template

row of mailboxes

Go oldschool and write a study abroad fundraising letter to send to friends and family via snail mail (or email).

We’re trying to make your life a little easier here. Below is a simple template for your study abroad fundraising letter that is mentioned above (See Tip #4). Feel free to copy and adapt this to your own voice and style. Don’t forget to include your actual name where it says “Your First and Last Name.” We can’t do it all for you!


Your First and Last Name

Your host university address

Subject: Fundraising for my studies abroad

Dear (so-and-so...fill in the donor’s name here!),

As you might already know, I am currently studying (insert major). I like this discipline because (include something sentimental). Though I am satisfied with my current program, I am eager to challenge myself with something new. That being said, I have recently decided to study abroad.

This program is from (insert first month of program) to (insert last month of program) this coming (fall, winter, summer, academic year, etc.). I plan to live (in student housing, with a host family, etc) while I am there. I am most excited about this because (include something else sentimental).

Once I started adding up the expenses to attend this program, I realized that I need some financial assistance. If you are able, a donation of any amount would help me out tremendously.

Your donation will help me fund:

  • International airfare
  • Tuition
  • Visa
  • (Add in something of your own here!)

As a thank you for your generosity, I would love to send you a postcard from (insert name of city or foreign country) once I get settled in.

Thank you in advance for your generosity.

Kind regards,

(Your name)

clothes rack

Have a garage sale and clean out the ol’ closet (you want to pack light, anyway!).

7 great programs to spend your study abroad fundraising on


1. AIFS Study Abroad in India

Join the American Institute For Foreign Study for a semester or academic year in the energetic city of Hyderabad. The capital city of the southern Indian state of Telangana, Hyderabad is known for it’s large technology sector, it’s ancient neighborhoods, and the spectacular Golconda Fort. Courses are taught in English and students are provided with housing and a meal plan.

kcp international

2. KCP International Japanese Language School

Experience the Japanese attention to detail with the KCP International Language School by learning Japanese in Tokyo. This unique program also includes instruction on Japan, its culture, and modern society. Students have the option between a private dorm or a local homestay with meals and local transportation provided.

aub beirut

3. American University of Beirut

Experience Lebanese culture at the heart of the Mediterranean in Beirut with the American University. Founded over 150 years ago, this program was built upon on the American liberal arts model of higher education with a commitment to providing excellence in education. The breadth of academic programs spans more than 130 disciplines.

dis copenhagen

4. DIS—Study Abroad: Copenhagen

With the option between summer, semester, and academic yearlong programs, this is an exciting introduction to Scandinavia. For over fifty years DIS has been welcoming students from North America to engage in high-level coursework. This program has a reputation for its organization and ease of administration for foreign students. Prepare to experience Copenhagen by bike while gaining invaluable academic experience.

mente argentina

5. Mente Argentina

Mente Argentina offers students with an incredible array of classes and program options. From wine to tango, music mixing to photography, there are programs to suit any interest in Buenos Aires-based. Students can choose from classes taught in English or Spanish and take part in many different excursion organized by Mente.


6. UIW European Study Center Heidelberg

Experience the charming German city of Heidelberg with a cohort of many other international students. The program offers many courses in Business, Communications, and European Studies in the Fall, Winter, and Summer semesters. This gem of a destination is not only known for its universities and accessibility, but also its castle. Consider Germany!


7. Performing Arts Abroad

As if Italian cuisine isn’t enough to lure you to the boot, maybe a semester studying a performance art will. Performing Arts Abroad is devoted to promoting and providing an international perspective. This unique program aims to enhance awareness and understanding of today’s society.

FundRAISE the roof 

With your sleeves already rolled up, and plenty of new study abroad fundraising ideas in mind, it’s time to put an idea into motion and fundraise the roof—studying abroad is on fire. The reality is that programs aren’t free. Funding your studies abroad is a minor hurdle that you must jump to make the magic happen. Communicate your ideas with family and friends to find a solution that will work best for you.

Fundraising for study abroad should be fun and result in some enjoyable experiences. Get creative and use your imagination. It’s best to have your financial situation sorted out before take-off so you can maximize your international experience. C’mon, you can do this!

Find study abroad programs now

Topic:  Money Tips