Advancing disability rights and leadership globally®

DOs and DON’Ts of Fundraising

Hands giving thumbs up and thumbs down
Hands giving thumbs up and thumbs down

Make your fundraising effort as successful as possible with some suggested strategies below.


Convey courtesy and respect.

Remember to say “thank you” throughout the process of requesting funds, even if a potential donor can’t offer funds.

Focus on the expected outcomes of your international exchange experience, both for you and your community.

Be sure to tell your potential donors about the new knowledge, skills and perspectives you’ll be returning home with and how these can benefit the community. Will your time overseas make you a better leader, writer, artist, teacher or citizen of the world? If so, what will that mean to people you work with at home, or to your campus or to local businesses and public officials? Think creatively about outcomes.

Provide as much information as possible about yourself and the program you want to participate in.

Create information packets you can give to potential donors, and include:

  • your resume
  • description of the exchange program’s mission, purpose, history and requirements
  • fact sheets about your destination country or countries
  • overview of the project you’ll be working on
  • any articles you’ve written on related topics

Offer potential contributors something in return for their donation.

Think you don’t have anything worthwhile to offer? Think again! By working or studying overseas, you may become something of a local expert on the culture, environment or history of the country or region you visit. If nothing else, you will have some great stories to tell! In approaching a group to request funding, offer to share knowledge and stories with your supporters. You can suggest doing this in a variety of ways: regular e-mail dispatches reporting on your activities, presentations at group meetings, articles for organizational newsletters, or photo collages.

Confidently share the importance of your project and your ability to carry it out.

Know the details of your project and share your enthusiasm. Your energy about the project will help others get on board with you.


Don’t use pity to request funding.

Avoid suggesting, or letting others suggest, that your disability makes you needy or desperate. Instead, present your disability in a realistic and straightforward way – as an asset that gives you a diverse perspective.

“Give someone an opportunity to want to help you, not because you have a disability, but because of what you’re doing.”

– Frank Hernandez, returned international exchange participant with a disability

Don’t just say, “I want to go abroad.” 

While it might be accurate to say “I want to go to Italy,” or even “I want to study art in Rome next year,” it isn’t very compelling for a potential donor. Give the “why” behind your experience – the goals and achievements you hope you’ll come away with. These are the longer term impacts donors often look for.

Don’t ignore non-monetary donations.

Cash is nice, but other types of support may be very useful, whether it’s publicity, helping you set up your fundraising webpage, or providing refreshments for your fundraising event. If someone offers you non-monetary support, be sure to express gratitude and think creatively about the potential use of that support.

Don’t make promises you can’t keep.

Follow through with any agreements. Make good on any offers for future presentations, articles or reports.

Don’t forget to ask for money!

If you don’t specifically ask for money, people may not know to donate! You never know what people may be willing to do until you ask.  

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