It is possible to raise money to finance an off-campus experience, especially if you share with potential contributors that your program will help achieve your long-term goals. Keep in mind that local, regional and national groups, as well as individuals, are all possible contributors. These may include: businesses and corporations, civic groups (Rotary, Kiwanis, Lions Club, etc.), foundations, travel agents, high school alumni associations, professional and business clubs, media (newspaper, radio and TV stations), and charitable, ethnic or religious organizations.
Direct, informal appeals have achieved the greatest success in fundraising. Be specific on how you intend to spend the money (airfare, program fee, personal travel, special projects, etc.). Include a photo of yourself with your requests so the receiver will establish a personal connection with you. Enthusiasm, creativity and perseverance on your part, and not fearing rejection in some instances, will likely take you a long way.
In exchange for financial support, you may find best results if you pledge to “give something back”. This could be sending regular updates while you are off-campus, or upon your return writing an article, giving a presentation about your experience, leading a discussion or seminar, organizing a community forum, promoting an educational and business exchange, participating in radio and televised interviews and broadcasts, contributing community service and outreach, or helping others to have a similar off-campus experience.
IDEAS WHICH HAVE WORKED:
• Bake sale; garage sale; rummage sale
• Ask friends to join you in raising money by painting, cleaning or car washes
• Sell coffee and baked goods with a sign stating your purpose
• Collect used books, CDs, computer software and have a sale
• Have your church or synagogue sponsor a special offering, dinner or raffle
• Waive holiday and birthday gifts and request financial gifts or loans instead
• Write a creative letter to all your relatives, asking for financial support in exchange for monthly letters while off-campus and a presentation and dinner upon return
• Find out if your parents’ employers have a scholarship program for children of employees
• Ask summer employers about a cash advance to be paid back through payroll deductions upon return.
• If you own a car—have a friend or sibling make car payments in exchange for using the vehicle while you are gone.
Keep a careful record of who supported you and the amount. Don’t forget to express your appreciation for their support. Your energy and enthusiasm for an off-campus experience will be contagious. It also opens up the area in which you will study to the people who are assisting you.