50 Fundraising Ideas for Your Gap Year Travels

Most gap years are planned (to some extent!) in advance which means that it gives you time to not only save money, but also make money to build your travel fund. Working of course is one way to do that. Before my gap year I did anything and everything to get the money together from online surveys and paid focus groups to reminding my gran that she hadn’t given me birthday money in years. Fundraising for a gap year needn’t be stressful and below are 50 fundraising ideas for you to try.

  1. Car Boot Sale – Cleaning out your old stuff doesn’t mean throwing everything out. Old slippers, toys, antiques, furniture, and stuffed animals are a few examples of what you can lay out on the table. Neighbours and passers-by can buy up things, contributing to your gap year travel funds.
  2. Charge for the Beer – Stock up on cheap beer, invite some friends over, and charge for the booze. Not a lot, of course. You don’t want to scare people away. If they know your cause, it might pay off to hang out with you before the big trip.
  3. Performance – Music, comedy, or magic tricks work among friends who know you are fundraising for your gap year travels. You can do this at a roomy home or set up a gig at a local club. Charge people as they enter or pass the bucket around during the show.
  4. Hold a Blind Date Event – If you know a lot of single people, invite them over for a chance to meet someone, at a charge. You can also charge others to show up at the event and watch and/or have a drink or two on the house.
  5. Skate/Bike Park Fundraiser – Gather the local skaters and skilled bicyclists to perform their tricks at a fundraiser event. Make sure to promote it. Outsiders may be more likely to pay because the latest skating moves are not as familiar to them.
  6. Busking – If you play a musical instrument and sing, a few quid can be made on the street. This works only if you’re pretty good; otherwise you’ll just get some quick stares.
  7. Cake, Cronut, or Bakery Sale – Snack sales are an age-old way to make a little extra dough. Follow a common recipe or make up your own. These sales are great for getting attention and satisfying your customers’ sweet tooth.
  8. Wash Cars – At some point, everyone with a car needs it washed. Arm yourself with a hose and some detergent and promote your services.
  9. Walk the Neighbour’s Dogs – Many people use dog walking to make extra money. Mention your services to the neighbours or set up some flyers. With just a few clients, you can have some extra money to sock away.
  10. Doggie Dress Up – A creative idea for a contest. Many dog owners get a kick out of dressing up their pets. Why not give them a chance to win a prize? Charge to enter and give the winner and runner ups some attention.
  11. Pet Tricks – A similar idea is to give pet owners a chance to show off what theirs can do. Just leave enough room for props and keep the tissues and/or carpet cleaner handy.
  12. Collect Spare Change – A jar for keeping extra change is a great way to save. You can also encourage others to put spare change in the mix. This also works great on a store counter, if you know someone in the retail or restaurant business.
  13. Head/Hair Shaving – Have your head or facial hair shaved with a sponsorship or charge people to attend this event. Even have others volunteer to do this – for a fee.
  14. Themed Party Related to Your Travel – Invite people to an event and talk about where you plan to visit. Clothing, decorations, and meals can be related to these, while you can charge guests admission and take donations.
  15. Karaoke – Be as good or as bad as you want. Karaoke is a nearly universal activity. Set up a Karaoke machine, speakers, and a microphone or ask an expert to volunteer their services while attendees pay at the door. If you hold the event at a pub, ask if your crew can get discounts or a free beer.
  16. Clean Up the Park – Pick up the trash from a local greenery or playground if someone is willing to pay you for the work.
  17. Halloween Party (on/off season) – Charge a fee for people who come out to your party dressed up, show off their costumes, or enter a contest. This doesn’t necessarily have to be on October 31; some people enjoy going all out any day of the year.
  18. Odd Jobs – Pick anything from lawn mowing to carrying groceries that you can charge for. Make sure you are qualified to do the task and can do so safely.
  19. Build Furniture – Moving and renovating is hard enough. Building furniture is time-consuming and adds to the stress. Advertise your services and help neighbours who buy flat pack furniture, for example. All you need is a few hours and simple tools – a screwdriver and Allen wrench often suffice.
  20. Darts – A local bar with a dart board, and an approving owner, is all you need for a dart competition. Charge guests to enter. A reasonable owner may include a free beer for the winner or to those who pay.
  21. Be the Photographer – It never hurts to be the one taking pictures, especially if you’re camera shy. Charge a fee at events, gatherings, or office parties; take on wedding shoots if you’re really good. The fundraising part is the best thing.
  22. Group Quiz Event – Hold a quiz event at a local establishment. People pay to enter, but have a good time answering questions related to subjects such as music, history, movies, geography, science, etc.
  23. Recycle – Trade in used plastic bottles, cans, printer ink cartridges, or even your car for compensation. You do the environment a favour as well!
  24. Fitness – Hold yoga or aerobics sessions and charge a fee at the door. You can share the same workout video or instructor, if you have a connection, or run the show yourself if you’re experienced.
  25. Hot Dog Contest – Engaging and filling, a hot dog contest is a great way to collect proceeds while giving someone the notoriety of winning by overeating.
  26. Scavenger Hunt – It’s fun for adults and kids at outdoor parties and events. Hide anything from miscellaneous items to fruits. People can collect them or take pictures of the items based on a list. Give out small prizes for whoever finds the most.
  27. Adventurous Bingo – Bingo is a simple game anyone can play. Charge a fee and add trivia questions or fun challenges in between “bingos”. Give out prizes, snacks, or beer to winners.
  28. Charge for a Barbeque – While the family BBQ is usually free, people often bring stuff. Instead charge a small entrance fee. You’d be surprised how people don’t mind shelling a buck or two for food, conversation, and some good company.
  29. Clean Windows – Wherever there are homes, there are windows. Offer people a chance to have clean, clear windows for a small charge or donation. You may save them time and money in the process.
  30. Babysit – There’s no shortage of people who need a babysitter, no matter where you live. Let parents have a date night while you keep the kid(s) safe and entertained.
  31. Dress-up Contest – Hold a themed dress up night. People can pay to enter and have a chance to win something. It doesn’t have to be spooky. Let people get dressed up suited and booted, in historical clothing (i.e. Wild West), or any theme you can come up with.
  32. Dinner Themes – Hold a themed dinner based on where you’re going. For example, if the destination is India have some Indian cuisine. Everyone can enjoy a cultural meal while making small donations to your cause.
  33. Sell Arts and Crafts – If you or a friend are crafty, then sell these creations at a yard sale or fair. Paintings, jewellery, pottery, and other imaginative items are things people will pay for and decorate their homes with.
  34. Battle of the Bands – If you have a lot of musician buddies who like to jam, charge them to enter the battle and rock out the neighbourhood.
  35. Hold a Film Event – Tickets and popcorn aren’t just for the theatres. At home or a local pub or venue, invite friends and family. If you charge a small entry fee and sell snacks or drinks, you never know. You might make something towards your gap year travels.
  36. Face Painting – Be it at a local fair or at a kid’s party, offer to paint children’s faces their favourite animal or character. If you’re good parents won’t mind paying a small fee. This can be a source of fundraising at any place children gather.
  37. Guessing Games – Take a little cash from people who are willing to guess something. It could be the number of marbles in a jar or the celebrity in a baby picture.
  38. Line of Coins – You can do this with your own collection, but why not have others donate their coins to see how long it can get. Perhaps charge people to be a part of a length-guessing session or promote your cause in the process.
  39. Online Fundraising – These websites have been popping up all over. They provide the chance to state your case and include any information you want. Even give rewards for certain donation amounts.
  40. Network – Let everyone know about your idea. If one person supports you, they may know others who will to. Write a letter about your plans and ask them to pass it on. Get colleagues, friends, and family involved.
  41. Letters of Support – A letter can include creative anecdotes, but you want your story to inspire others and make a connection. Tell what led up to this upcoming life experience. Others will also want to know about the program of study and what your goals are. Continue this connection by writing to your supporters while away.
  42. Sponsorships from Local Groups/Associations – Civic groups, alumni associations, and other local organisations in your hometown may be willing to offer support. They may also open the door to pitching your case in public or in a local publication.
  43. Places of Worship – Since churches, synagogues, mosques, and other houses of worship often run collections, approach their leaders about your cause and need for support. They might serve as a connection between you and your network or become direct sponsors.
  44. Pitch to Local Media – Newspapers and radio stations are often looking to show public interests. This is an opportunity because not only can they provide donations, but get the word out as well. You get to write about your cause and purpose. Even offer to write articles or letters during your travels or hold an interview when your travels are over.
  45. Something-a-thon – For some reason, people pay to do a particular activity for as much as is humanly possible. Dancing, drawing, running, singing, jump roping, (and even kissing!) are popular activities.
  46. Offer Private Lessons – If you’re experienced enough and are a good teacher, give lessons on specific school subjects, drawing, dancing, foreign language, self-defence, guitar playing, etc.
  47. Social Media – Create blog posts, graphics, and branded information about yourself and your plans. These can be useful for contacting sponsors as well.
  48. Apply for a Grant – Although this may require some research, it gives you a chance to express your passion for the journey you plan to embark on. Mention your hometown, education, interests, and destinations. You never know; a grant provider may see your cause as the ideal place to apply their funds.
  49. Stay in Contact – It pays to stay in touch with supporters, whether they are family members or random sponsors and donors. Report on your experiences and send thank you letters. Supporters may end up being a help later on or, if you run out of cash during gap year, a source of additional funds.
  50. Work for Your Money – Finally, get a job at the local fast food joint or retail shop. Bartending is a good way to save up cash, especially if you get good tips.

Do you have any other ideas that will help fellow travellers? Comment below and let us know!

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