Fundraising Guide

Our goal is to bring the experience of studying abroad to as many students as possible, and we don’t want you to feel that the experience is out of reach due to financial circumstances. In addition to our early-bird discount, host family discount, ISE ambassador scholarship and a comprehensive list of third-party scholarships, we also provide you with a plan for starting your very own study abroad fundraiser.

Follow the steps below to begin working towards your dream exchange today!

Start Early

Arguably the most important thing to keep in mind when fundraising for your exchange program is to begin as soon as possible. While it’s not impossible to raise funds in a short amount of time, your opportunities to explore different fundraising channels are far greater if you give yourself some wiggle room. As soon as you’ve made the decision that you’d like to study abroad, get started on your fundraising plan!

Set A Goal

Once you’ve picked your program, you can set your fundraising goal. Having a goal is important because it helps you stay organized and track your progress as you work toward your dream exchange program. Things to consider when setting your fundraising goal include:

  • Program Tuition
  • Airfare costs
  • Visa/Passport fees
  • Personal spending money

Once you have your goal, you can take it a step further by breaking it down by fundraising channel. This can look like:

  • How much can I expect my family to contribute
  • How much can I expect to raise through local organization/business/school sponsorships
  • How much can I expect to raise through service/odd jobs/other

Tell Your Story

Explaining to potential donors why you’re seeking their help is key when planning your fundraiser. You can tell your story in an in-person meeting, letter, video, email, flyer, on a website, etc. – just be sure it’s personal and speaks to why a donor would want to pitch in. A few things to consider adding to your story include:

  • Why you wish to study abroad
  • What are your goals for the program
  • Your academic record/achievements
  • Any extracurricular activities you participate in
  • How you believe studying abroad will impact your future
  • What you hope to bring back to the community as a result of studying abroad
foreign exchange students on the beach

Identify Your Fundraising Network

Next, you’ll work on bringing your story to your fundraising network. Don’t be shy about getting out into your community to identify potential fundraising partners! Your network can include:

  • Family
  • Friends
  • Neighbors
  • School Staff
  • Group/Club Leaders
  • Sports teams/Coaches
  • Local business
  • Local organizations
  • Social Media
  • And more!

Identify Fundraising Opportunities and Channels

There are many ways to raise the funds you need to study abroad, and there’s no limit to how many you can try! A few fundraising activities to consider include:

  • Crowdfunding
  • Bake Sales (You can even have fun by making it international-themed!)
  • Odd Jobs
    • Babysitting
    • Car Washes
    • Lawn Mowing/Leaf Raking
    • Dog Walking
    • Powerwashing
    • Tutoring
    • And More!
  • Leverage a Talent
    • Photography
    • Art
    • Music
    • Crafting
    • And More!
  • Contribution Rewards, such as:
    • Offer 5 hours community service at the charity of a donor’s choice in exchange for a $100 donation
    • Sell T-shirts or other promotional apparel that donors can purchase, with proceeds going towards your goal (teespring is a popular platform for this)

Don’t Forget to Keep Everyone Posted!

Once you hit your fundraising goal, share your experience to let your donors know how much their contribution means to you! Great ways to do so include:

  • Writing thank you letters
  • Starting a newsletter
  • Posting updates about your experience to a blog
  • Creating video updates and thank you’s for donors


Global friendship starts with local action. Volunteer to host a student today!


Change the world, one family at a time. Apply to become an ISE Area Representative!


Explore a new culture and experience a new way of life. Become an exchange student!