Fundraising for your Overseas Project

Over the past few years I’ve reached out to friends and family who have kindly supported my fund raising efforts in various ways, I’ve then needed to be a little more creative in getting donations. My first project was for Raleigh International and the International Citizen Service in Nicaragua in 2015, and the next was in 2016 for my Engineers without Borders UK (EWB) placement with WindAid Institute, read about my volunteers experience here. I’m very appreciative of the support I received from my friends and family and the organisations that have supported me and my projects.

Your network is key to the kind of strategy to take to try and fund raise, I chose lots of smaller events that would bring in smaller amounts to get me to my totals. However whilst working as an expedition leader I’ve had students on my team explain to me that with support of friends and family, they’ve raised over £2000 on a single event! So if your part of a sports club, professional network think how you can include them in your activities and perhaps put all your effort into one huge event.

Here’s the list of fund raising ideas most I’ve personally done, some I’m putting here as ideas that might spark your creativity. Leave a comment on question and I’ll do my best to help, also share your fund raising success and stories.

If you want more idea’s this guide from Supporting Kids In Peru (SKIP) has lots of great ideas too.

Organisations and Trusts

There are organisations and trusts that are more than happy to support great project work, and even more so you if you emphasise your personal and professional and professional development by completing the project.

Some organisation have specific criteria that you should target your proposal or application towards, if it’s a speculative email or letter, make sure you explain the project well, the costs involved and the other means you plan on funding your project and travel.

I’ve found that having an official looking letter from the organisation quite useful to prove that the project is legitimate and I’m not just running off with their money. Ask if your organisation can prepare you something similar so you can include in your applications.

Your University

If your currently a student, get in touch with your department head with a short brief description of your project work, and other key information to help your enquiry. The student admission office may also be worth chatting to, to find out if any such funds or budget exists in your school or department. I’ve heard of success stories of student branch members of Engineer without Borders team manage to fund their complete project costs with the magnitude of a few £1000’s, just by asking. It’s worth a shot!

Your Company

If you’ve started your career, start asking questions around the companies social corporate responsibility or if they have budgets for such overseas project. Some companies are happy to match fund, which shows your commitment to find other sources of sponsors and funding.

UK Grants and Trusts

Be sure to visit the turn2us website, after putting your circumstance into a search field this website suggests possible organisation and institutions that may be able to support your project work. After visiting the organisations page you can quickly gauge whether you think your project work would be supported.

Douglas Bomford Trust

I found this trust through one of the searches above, I’ve applied twice, and been supported twice receiving a £250 and then £300 on my second application – thank you very much Douglas Bomford Trust for your support!. I emphasised the project work I would be doing, emphasising the personal opportunities for me to develop my communication skills in Spanish, my knowledge of off grid renewable energies, and increase my professional network. I applied for grants under £1500 and they have specific points you should cover in your applications. To try for larger amounts, they have a separate category which I imagine have more detailed criteria. In my application I asked for a specific amount and explained how the other costs of the project were going to be funded, i.e. what other fund raising activities I was doing. I also included expected transport costs, both times they provided this grant on the basis it was used toward transportation costs. Good luck!

Alcehmy Foundation

Raleigh International included this in one of their fundraising guides saying some people had been lucky and received some support from this foundation. After googling them I found a phone number and called, I had prepared a full speech and explanation and as soon as I mentioned Raleigh, the gentlemen said, just write us a letter and post it to our address and we’ll send you a cheque. They sent me £50 for my Raleigh International project in Nicaragua and a year later I wrote to them again, explaining what our team had achieved with Raleigh and what I hoped to achieve in Peru with EWB and WindAid Institute. I then received a cheque made out to Engineers without Borders for £100. If you apply to the Alcehmy Foundation, be sure to explain who to write the cheque to, you may or may not be successful if it’s made out to you, I think your more likely to succeed if it’s the name of the charity or NGO.

The Alchemy Foundation

Trevereux Manor

Limpsfield Chart





Rotary Club

The Rotary Club are worldwide group, that support social project at home and overseas and usually have branches in cities worldwide. It takes a little bit of searching on the various web pages to find contact details for the most relevant club to you. Also you need to set this up with plenty of notice, each club will have a particular day they will meet on and speakers are booked up well in advance. My experience was as follows, after a few emails back and forth with the secretary we fixed a date one evening and we spoke on the phone to confirm the final details. I offered to show them 10 minutes of travel shots I had taken, and planned on showing a video of Raleigh Internationals work in Nicaragua, to give them an idea of what I’d be doing. On the actual evening I had quite a shock wearing my Raleigh tshirt and jeans when I met the president of the club wearing a gold chain, and every group member in formal dress. It was quite a posh affair, later the president informed I had infact 5 minutes, so in the end I gave a short introduction, played the video then opened the floor to questions, and then had a rather fine 3 course dinner and at the end the treasurer wrote a cheque out to Raleigh international for £50.

Lions Club

I wasn’t successful in getting an audience with the Lions Club, I had a response saying they were concentrating on social project within the region. Still may be worth your while in trying to get in touch. There was a similar process of digging through websites to find the relevant contact details.

Online Donations and Crowdfunding

Potentially the organisation your volunteering with will request that you set up a page on justgiving or some other charity online donation page. It’s a great way of keeping track of your progress, for both you and your potential supporters. You can simply share these pages through email and social media however I believe this is becoming way less effective as people are everyday seeing requests for donations so perhaps considering trying something a little different….

Crowdfunding and Offering Rewards / Presents

I wanted to offer my friends and families for their support for my second overseas project and had read in the EWB Fundraising guide that previous volunteers had offered to send or bring home presents from their volunteer country. I sent a postcard to those who donated £10, for those that donated £25 that bought them a tshirt from Peru. So I included things that I knew I could get and reached out to a Peruvian friend to help me gauge costs of these items so I could calculate the donation levels. In addition I also offered some framed photography of my favourite shots, and a days rock climbing as I’m an instructor. Some people didn’t want anything for themselves but wanted to buy materials for the school in a community I’d be working for example. You can view my EWB WindAid CrowdFunder here.

Things to note;

  • Each platform has it’s own fees, and likely a separate payment fee, e.g. credit cards or paypal.
  • You need to factor in the costs of the materials or services your offering as a reward.
  • Make sure the remaining amount is a good amount for a donation.

Personal Experience: I raised £490 on, of which just under 9% (£43) went on platform and payment fees, then a further ~13% (£64) went on material costs, i.e. buying the postcards, stamps, tshirts, printed photos etc. Leaving me with a donation amount of just over £380. Your material costs will obviously depend on what your specific offering. This was just to give my example I wanted to share. I advise researching the platform well. For example the U.S. based Generosity has no platform fees, and just 3% credit card fees, however I was unsure what fees would be incurred for me to get the money from the platform. Another good looking option is, again read the fine print and understand the fees.

Hosted Events

Themed Dinner

Before setting of for Peru with Engineers without Borders, I rounded up around 12 of my friends and invited them for a Peruvian themed dinner. I put a suggested donation of £15 per person, and after my food costs were covered I raised around £150 for donations.

The three dishes were Mango Ceviche (a fruity twist on the Pervuian speciality) Papa a la Huacauina (sliced boiled potatoes covered in a spicy cheesy sauce) with the main of Tofu Chaufa (Peruvian/Chinese style stir fried vegetables with Tofu). Having never cooked for 12 people before, I was glad I started early as the preperation and cooking time was a whole day pretty much. But it was a fantastic way of spending an evening with friends, sharing a part of the new culture I would be experiencing whilst also raising funds for my volunteering project.

Slideshow / Presentation

As a rock climber I’ve been lucky enough to visit some beautiful places, climb and experience new cultures and people love a good story and a collection of photos? Have you been to an interesting place recently? Somewhere off the beaten track? Get your best photos together and put a slide show together. I’ve done this twice, once at my local climbing centre and at a Costwolds Outdoor Store. If your talk has an adventure twist to it, like my ‘El Capitan’ big wall talk they’re likely to host it at their store, usually each store has a budget for such community events. They get the benefit of potential purchases from your listeners, plus it shows them in a good light and part of an active outdoor community. Carmarthen Cotswolds were extremely support of the event, they created graphics, tickets, sent posters to interested clubs locally.

A twist on this could be you set up a talk about your overseas project experience and set a date for when you return, and get people to pre-buy the tickets? Just a thought, I’ve not attempted this, get in touch if you try this and let me know how it goes!

Horse Racing Evening

Whilst I’ve not done this personally, I’m sharing this idea from a expedition student of mine. She arranged an evening where you paid an entrance ticket fee, that included a 3 course meal, and also managed to run a horse racing event, where people paid to bet on horse races that were played on a TV screen and won prizes from local business. This obviously takes a lot of planning, and I haven’t tried this, but it’s an example of one big events that has many aspects to try and get you donations.

Car Boot Sales (a very British event)

For Brits this needs no explanation, for others basically…. you fill your car with items you no longer need or want and sell them out the back of your car boot (trunk for you guys across the pond and I guess your equivalent is a Garage Sale). Important to note….the experience can be a bit traumatic for two reasons, the first, they usually require you to get up very early on a weekend, and secondly people will offer you a fraction of a fraction of a percentage of what you think the item is worth.

However you’ve decided to get rid of these things right? So anything you make is worthwhile. Obviously if you have some valuable items like a Television or Technical Outdoor clothing or something you know has a lot of worth try and sell them privately through Facebook groups for example. However I’ve personally raised in the order of £1000 over perhaps 12 car boot events.

Top tip: Friends and family are often willing to supply you with items to raise funds, even if you don’t have a lot of things to sell. However try to screen what they give you so you don’t end up with a lot of rubbish you can’t shift.

Hot Sellers:

Good quality clothing, men’s, women’s and children’s, in particular old football shirts sold very well for me.

Children’s Toys board games

Sporting Equipment: Footballs, Tennis rackets, Golf clubs etc

Home Furnishings: cushions, mirrors, picture frames

DVDs likely to only sell for 50p – £1 but that adds up quickly

Don’t waste your time:

Books – people weren’t so keen, unless they were School or Uni text books

Another possibly easier option is the carboot sale app Shpock.

Expect people to barter, and barter hard they will but it can be good fun. Also quite often organisers give you a free spot at the event if you show them proof your raising money for a charity or good cause.



I hope you find some of these ideas useful, however you go about your fundraising be it in lots of smaller activities or one big huge party or event, planning is key, best of luck. Feel free to get in touch particularly if you have some success’ with my ideas.