Looking to volunteer abroad but don’t have the savings to support your trip? You’ve come to the right place - the following volunteer fundraising ideas have been shared by previous IVHQ volunteers, who have found these methods invaluable when saving up for their volunteer overseas trips.
Many IVHQ volunteers use online crowdfunding platforms to raise funds to support their trips. This is a popular option because it’s easy to set up and a great way to get friends and family to support your trip! Many of our volunteers use sites such as Go Get Funding or FundMyTravel.
Here are a few top tips to make sure your campaign stands above the rest:
- Tell a story - you’ve been inspired to volunteer abroad and travel with meaning so explain the motivations behind that decision, where you are going and how you are going to have an impact.
- Think of a creative way to present your story - can you make a captivating video, a personalized meme? When presenting your story in writing, keep it snappy and find an intro to hook readers in
- Be transparent - make sure it’s clear what the money is being used for
- Get exposure - now’s the time to be a social butterfly! Get out there and spread the word. Post your Go - Get Funding page on your social channels, email it out and mention it to people in person. Encourage friends and family to share it as well!
- Show your appreciation and incentivize donations. For example, when people donate over $100, think of a unique way to say thanks. Maybe you could send them a postcard when in-country?
Volunteer Abroad Scholarships
Look online for scholarships and grants given out in your area. If you’re still at university or college you may find that they also offer scholarships and grants for volunteers who are travelling abroad. Also look for general community grants and scholarships.
Get Out in Your Community
Hire a BBQ, buy some sausages and don’t forget the mustard, ketchup and onions! A very popular and profitable fundraising venture and very successful outside popular shopping malls on weekends or sports events. I held a Sausage sizzle at Woolworths or Bunnings… I made over $300 profit in half a day. Woolys gives good discounts on all the food/supplies you need! - Kate Wildes (Volunteer in Sri Lanka)
Here’s an easy way to raise a couple of hundred in a few hours. You know when your doing your grocery shopping? Over here we do a bag pack to raise for charities. So basically people will pack away your shopping and if you want to donate money to the charity there is a box beside them. It’s very common over here. - Niamh Cahill (Volunteer in Kenya)
Hold a treasure hunt. It’s a fun way to raise money that’s very popular with primary school aged children. Charge a small fee for entrance and hand out donated prizes and candy. Other ideas are “big digs” in the sand for people who live close to the beach.
Presentation to Community Groups
If you have a youth club or a community club of some description, approach the person in charge and ask if you can do a presentation one night about what you are intending to do and what you are raising money for. You might find that a youth Club organiser might get the club’s members to raise money for you somehow. Other presentations might be a money-on-the-night thing whereby you give a presentation, thank them for their time, and ask for a donation before you go home. If you’ve spent time carefully planning your presentation then you’ll be able to deliver it confidently and it will be more enjoyable and interesting for the listeners. Interested listeners make good donators! - Geralt Parry (Volunteer in Tanzania)
Auction yourself off to help out a community group or local business, and get sponsored for every hour of work you complete!
Get Involved With Schools
Contact your local Primary and Secondary School that you went to. They usually raise money for a worthy cause every year. They might donate towards yours by getting kids to do a sponsored walk or pay to wear their own clothes to school instead of a school uniform for example. - Geralt Parry (Volunteer in Tanzania)
BONUS TIP: Often when applying for assistance, potential sponsors are dubious about the authenticity of your cause. On request, your Program Manager can provide you with a verification letter from International Volunteer HQ (IVHQ) which will help you overcome this problem. To receive a verification letter, email your Program Manager and request one today.
Take a sponsored mid winter dip in your local ocean or swimming pool. If it’s Summer time, set yourself a challenging distance to swim and get sponsorship per meter or yard that you swim. Try to attract a group of dippers to join you and contact your local media. The more publicity the better!
Collect teams who attended the same or nearby universities and hold a challenge to see which team will come out on top. This challenge could be sporting or intellectual. Promotes healthy inter-university rivalry.
Organise a sponsored walk up a landmark of your country/region. In the past I’ve raised a lot of money by walking up Wales’ highest mountain – Mount Snowdon. You just harass people for a £1 here and a £1 there before you go, and then when you go for the walk, take a bucket with you with a poster on its side and just ask people if they’d like to donate. It would be even better if you dress up as a chicken and get one friend to come along with you and do the same. It gets attention - trust me! It doesn’t have to be a walk, it could be a run or a sponsored bike ride. Chickens on bikes always look great! - Geralt Parry (Volunteer in Tanzania)
Organise a walk for the youth of your community. Encourage them to get fit and get sponsored for your cause.
Marathon, Half Marathon, 5k Run and Walk
Challenge yourself to a local fun run and run for donations for your volunteer abroad trip! Encourage sponsors to pay $1 per kilometer/mile that you run.
Find a large building in your town and promote that fact that for every $1 you raise you’ll climb one step up the building until you get to the top!
Organise a sports event day. For example you can organise a 7-a-side football (soccer!) or rugby competition very easily. Stick an ad in the paper or create an event on Facebook and keep telling everyone about the event. You raise money by charging entry per person or per team. It’s a great day out and if you bring your trusty bucket with you then people will inevitably put some extra change in that once they’ve had a few drinks. - Geralt Parry (Volunteer in Tanzania)
Become a Host
I plan on putting on a three course traditional Kenyan meal in return for a £5 donation. - Kirsty Priest (Volunteer in Kenya)
Community Quiz Nights
I organised a quiz night and sold tickets at a higher price ($20 per person or $100 for team of 5) got about 12-14 tables and provided finger food at each table (donated from supermarkets) but made a killing from selling alcohol at $5 a bottle and also cans. - Warkina Tujuba (Volunteer in South Africa)
I’m having a English tea party/dessert night and inviting all my friends and their friends, baking lots of food, lots of fun, old fashioned games, and asking them all to pay ten dollars towards it rather than bringing anything. - Larissa Rodrigues (Volunteer in Ghana)
Pub Quiz Night
Have a Quiz Night at the local boozer. Charge people around £1.50 to take part. Before the quiz night, you should run around local businesses asking for a Donation to a raffle that you’re going to hold at the end of the Quiz Night. When I’ve done this sort of thing, I’ve found small local businesses to be much more generous than the bigger supermarket or chains. Their produce is much better quality too, and all you have to do is give them some free advertising during the Quiz Night. Some raffle prizes can include wine, free haircut, chocolates, biscuits, pet food, a teddy, beer, more beer, a sports t-shirt, vouchers and so on. - Geralt Parry (Volunteer in Tanzania)
Invite a local wine dealer to bring along a few cases of wine and donate some of the proceeds of his sales to your volunteer experience. Supplying trays of nice cheeses and crackers is always a great crowd puller.
Having a great band, delicious food and brilliant decorations are all paramount to a successful dinner dance. Charge a good price, organise a raffle and allocate a generous amount of time to advertising. Prior to dinner is a great time to hold a presentation and show photos to show what you hope to achieve during your volunteering experience. These can also be held after your trip abroad to show people what you got up to during your time abroad and to help offsets costs you may have incurred while you were away.
Hire a bus, approach 4-7 pubs or bars, get some friends onboard and organise a pub crawl. Bargain with bar owners to provide drink deals and freebies that you can advertise to draw larger crowds. Ensure when making arrangements that you abide by all local laws and regulations. Not only is a pub crawl a great fundraiser but it is also a great chance to get together with all your friends before you head away to volunteer.
Everybody loves a great excuse to dress up in outrageous outfits and donate money to a good cause to attend!
Ask a local pub or bar to host one for you and charge people to get in or take part. Advertise around town and invite lots of your friends. Bars will often sponsor bar tabs and prizes for the karaoke (best singers, best dressed etc) as it will encourage people to come to their bar for the evening.
I am holding a fundraising movie night this Friday evening $15 per person incl. popcorn and prizes and raffles etc. Would like to fill all the seats. - Kerry Watson (Volunteer in Kenya)
Fashion shows are a great girl’s night out and prove to be very popular. Local stores may lend clothes in exchange for advertising on the night. Choose a song and get your models to prepare a routine for each shop. Local celebrities and good friends of all shapes and sizes make entertaining and happy models. Money can be made by charging a door cover charge and auction at the end of the night for some of the items of clothing.
Just for Fun
Have you heard of flocking? I am flocking people right now. Go to the store or order online! They are these ugly pink flamingos that you put in the yard, get 20 of them. Make a sign that says you have been flocked, on the back, tell them what it is for and how to contact you. They pay $10 to have them removed for your cause or $15 to have them moved to a friends house and play the prank on them next. I just started this and its loads of fun when you have the right people to help you with it and the right folks to flock and play along! - Jennifer Wiley (Volunteer in Kenya)
Convince the boss at your workplace (or school) to have a Casual Friday, where everyone that donates to your trip can dress down for the day!
You can have a car wash - contact a local place in a hot spot for their parking lot and get some friends do $5 a car… A silent auction - have a big party and try and get items donated to auction off. You can try and put money jars in your local small restaurants if they’ll let you. - Kayla Marie (Volunteer in Kenya)
In Canada you can cash in your beer, wine bottles and cans… I made about $800, I handed out flyers in my neighborhood and organised a pick up date. People are always too lazy to take them back and you are doing them a favour… Also good to do after a holiday weekend… - Kalia Cochrane (Volunteer in Kenya)
Grow a mustache or beard and have your friends and family donate for every week that you keep and maintain it!
Set up a day where everyone has to go without electricity for a day and donate the money they would spend on it for that day. Take bucket showers with boiled kettle water etc. I think we take electricity for granted, warm water, being able to blow dry our hair or be warm. - Melissa Gilkes (Volunteer in Nepal)
Have a Sale
In everyone’s attic or basement there is junk that needs to be disposed of or passed on to new owners. Have a rally around and collect your friends, families and neighbors’ well loved belongings to use in your garage sale. A garage sale is great place to have a bake sale and adds to the profits. Market the sale in your local paper to increase customers. I did a big garage sale and asked family, friends, neighbors to donate items to sell. Made a lot and it really helped. - Kayla Mildren (Volunteer in Guatemala)
Open a Facebook Shop
We created a group on Facebook with pictures of items to sell and we made an auction that lasted about two weeks! We invited all our Facebook friends to join. - Laurie Labbé (Volunteer in Peru - Lima)
Have a clothing/shoe/housewares drive and utilize a recycling program… Here in Dallas there is a company that you can have a clothing drive and you get money per pound… And they donate the clothing to third world countries… A total win win in my book! - Jennifer Brooks (Volunteer in Guatemala)
Have a Clean-out
Have a clothing sale - all of the items I no longer needed I sold for $5 each to my friends. We had a party at the same time, they got a real bargain and I made $600 for items that I no longer wanted. - Julie Gowan (Vounteer in Kenya)
Get creative. Design and produce your own jewelry for sale. You’ll find many books in local libraries that will provide assistance and if you buy beads in bulk you’ll find it to be very rewarding and profitable.
Have your own stall at local farmers markets, festivals, galas or even outside your house on the street. Get your friends and family on the bandwagon to help prepare the goods. Cakes, slices, cookies are popular sellers while preserves are particularly profitable. Incorporating a “guess the weight of the cake” competition and a raffle are always great money spinners as well. Some bars (always ask first and try for the ones that don’t serve food) will let you go through the crowd with a tray of goodies. Works best towards the end of happy hour. People love mini cupcakes, cookies, and brownies, especially if it’s for a good cause! Also, a trick I learned, don’t put a price on them. “However much you want to give to the cause” will get you a much higher average donation. - Nikki Stanbridge (Volunteer in Peru - Cusco)
Donations in Lieu of Presents
If your Birthday or Christmas is in the midst and your friends and family are asking after your wish list, why not ask for a donation towards your volunteer placement in place of something you could quite easily do without? My daughter wants to do “this” instead of getting a car or motorbike for her 16th birthday… - Anna-Lisa Rovak (Mother of Future IVHQer)
52 Week Challenge
The 52 Week Challenge has proved a successful way for previous IVHQ volunteers to set achievable savings goals and build up funds for their volunteer overseas trips over the course of a year. If you’re not familiar with the 52 Weeks Challenge… During the first week of the year, you save $1. During the second week, you save $2. Keep adding a dollar each week so that during the last week of the year, you’re putting away $52. Even without interest, this adds up to $1,378 over the course of a year!