You really can make this happen!! And it will be more meaningful because you earned it. A lot of people fund their Gap Year by choosing a reasonable program, getting a paying job for six months, saving the money, and then paying for most of it themselves.
There’s always the usual. Save the money you earn from babysitting, car washing, yard work, and errands in a special Gap Year account. Many of the program sites have fundraising pages. Look for them and take notes. AFS-USA has a whole page of ideas. The International Volunteer Program Association (IVPA) has a helpful page of Fundraising Tips, and the World Teach site has an entire Fundraising Guide complete with sample letters and press releases.
You can also look for research grants and scholarship opportunities. Find your local foundation center via the Foundation Center website. They offer Foundation Grants to Individuals Online – a unique database that offers detailed descriptions of foundation grant programs that award support directly to students, academic researchers, educators, and other individual grant seekers. Some public libraries have searchable databases of foundations offering grants to individuals.
Write two letters. The first one is for family and friends telling them why you are raising money. Give details of the program you have chosen and why you are doing it. Tell them how you think it will benefit you, your family, and your community. Calculate how much a day will cost then ask family and friends to buy a specific day! Then when you are off on your adventure, write them on their day and tell them what you did.
The second letter could be to local businesses, again telling the details of what you will be doing and why. Also tell them how your community will benefit from your experiences. Perhaps you can offer to work for a donation. Wait a couple of days after you’ve sent the letter and then go in and introduce yourself.
Invite neighbors to a baked potato luncheon with a table full of things like bacon bits, sour cream, chopped olives, and cheddar cheese. Be creative. Maybe you can get a local supermarket to donate the potatoes (give them your letter) and another to give you the trimmings. Tell them you will put up a sign at the luncheon about their donation; and take a picture of it that you can bring to them. You might need a little help getting that meal together, but if you get donations of the food, you can deposit most of the money in your Gap Year account. Tacos could work to, with your paying guests filling their own shells. …Maybe you can do this at your mom or dad’s place of business and post a flyer in the lunch room in advance.
Along the same idea, how about an ice cream sundae party, with hot fudge, whipped cream, nuts, sprinkles? If you can get the food donated (stores, family, friends), you can charge $5 and let everyone make his or her own sundae. Invite friends, classmates, and neighbors. Maybe whole families will come and add to your account. Would the school cafeteria let you sponsor this on a given day? Then, the whole school would know what you are planning.
How about taking pictures of little kids and selling the prints to the family? If they like the picture, you can research office supply stores to blow the photo up to 2’x3’ and offer that to parents for $15 – $20 (get an advance order for this since it will cost you about $5 to make the blow up).
Are you good on the computer? Offer to print business cards for people.
Offer to be a party helper at children’s birthday parties. Most mom’s and dad’s find having 10 – 20 children at a party to be a bit exhausting…you can offer to help. If you have a skill like making animal balloons or balloon hats for the kids, you will give the parents a bit of a break and be a real asset. Word of mouth will get around and you may find yourself booked up. Most party stores sell the booklets to teach you how to make balloon toys…and it will be a great asset with foreign children during your Gap Year.
There are plenty of ideas out there. If you come up with a successful idea of your own, please share it with us and we will write about it.
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