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Fundraising Tips

Fundraising is proclaiming what we believe in such a way that we offer other people an opportunity to participate with us in our vision and mission.

-  Henri Jozef Machiel Nouwen

For it is in giving that we receive...

- St. Francis of Assisi

A Note on Fundraising

Asking for money is never easy, but it's worth every penny that you get in return. The key to fundraising is to know your value, understand the worth of the project, and to communicate why you are doing what you're doing. You may even want to refer back to your IPAI application and use your answers to develop a short paragraph telling people why you are an artist, what your personal goals are, and how IPAI will help you achieve them. 

Educator and fundraising consultant, G. T. "Buck" Smith says, "Donors don't give to institutions. They invest in ideas and people in whom they believe.” Mr. Smith also said of his fundraising strategy in an article in The Chronicle of Higher Education, "The underlying thing for me is relationships—hardly anything important happens that doesn’t have to do with relationships."

As you create your fundraising plan, consider the people who believe in you and with whom you have or can build relationships. Make a list of people and places and then, consider how you might serve and inspire them: a private concert, dinner or special event; writing a simple card or letter proclaiming what you believe; recording or writing a song; doing a favor or personal service like household chores, filing in an office, washing cars, babysitting, or some other volunteer work; hosting a benefit concert and splitting the donations with another charitable organization.  

Once you have a list of contacts as your starting point, begin to craft your conversation. Solicit the help of a trusted mentor to help you craft a script that is professional and confident, while at the same time polite and courteous. The language and tone of your communication matters and takes practice. Read your letter or script to multiple people and get feedback before connecting with new potential sponsors. Remember to talk about why you are an artist, what you believe, and your vision for not only yourself, but your community and the people you will encounter on your artistic journey. How will your artistry create meaning and value in the world? What do you hope the world will experience through your personal brand of music? Connect this vision to the experience and training you will receive at IPAI. Use the descriptions of our programs, master classes, faculty, performances, and opportunities on our website to show your audience how you will accomplish your goals or move closer to your artistic vision.


If you want help creating this kind of language and presentation, reach out to us! We would love to hear your thoughts, give you feedback, and discuss creative ways to express your WHY and your value. A little creativity, passion, and confidence goes a long way. Know that you are worth the investment and remember, people are investing in YOU, not IPAI. Connect with people who are interested in the same things as you, who share your values, and who are open for conversation. You can do it! 

Fundraising Ideas

F U N D R A I S I N G   C A L E N D A R,   B U D G E T,   &   C O V E R   L E T T E R

Create a personal fundraising calendar for yourself and set short-term and long-term deadlines with clear financial goals. The first step is to talk about your fundraising needs with close family and friends, people you trust and those who have supported you financially in the past. Get an idea of what support might be available to you through these avenues first.

It's not always fun, but having a budget of all your IPAI expenses really puts things in perspective for people who are unfamiliar with what you do. Include expenses for the trip itself like tuition, flight, train/ground transportation, passport costs, health insurance, food allowance, spending money, supplies, toiletries, luggage, etc. And also include costs of preparation for the program such as voice lessons to prepare your solo repertoire, coaching for arias and scenes work, cost of getting a new head shot, resume and head shot printing, cost of buying and printing sheet music, etc. Having a breakdown of your expenses shows that you are thoughtful and strategic. Your patrons and supporters will appreciate the information and respect the time you took to prepare. 

Write a ONE-PAGE, ONE-SIDED general letter sharing your IPAI acceptance and the discussion points mentioned above in the A NOTE ON FUNDRAISING section. Talk about why you are an artist, your personal goals and vision, and share how IPAI supports your endeavors. Tell your audience about the program, training, performing, guest artists, performances, and experiences you will have. Let them celebrate with you and share how you will give back to your community when you return.

F A M I L Y   &   F R I E N D S

Share your IPAI acceptance with your family, friends, community groups, on social media, and with anyone who has invested in you as an artist: voice teachers, professors, high school music teachers and mentors, etc. Write a press release and send it to your local media outlets. Talk about the IPAI Germany experience and the opportunities you will have. Introduce them to the website and share the success stories of IPAI alumni. And then....


Ask! Don’t be shy. Many people truly want to help you in your pursuit of artistic training. If they can't donate to you outright, perhaps they can support you in other ways. Are they are members of an organization, club, or church that could help? Could they connect you to other friends who will support you?  Do they have children who would like to take music lessons for a set period of time? Could you offer some sort of service that benefits them personally or their business? Perhaps their employer has scholarship or granting opportunities.

Do they have sky-miles that they are not using and willing to contribute to offset the cost of your flight? Are there other ways they can give to you that allows you to save a little money? For example: a gas card that saves you money and earns them points and perks; discounts at their place of business or on purchases at places like grocery stores, drug stores, supermarkets, etc.; allowing you to perform services/jobs that they would otherwise hire someone else to do like gardening, mowing the lawn, house cleaning, dog walking, babysitting, house-sitting, car detailing, cleaning out the basement or shed, etc. The possibilities are only limited by your imagination!

C L U B S   &   O R G A N I Z A T I O N S 

Contact professional, civic, and community clubs and organizations in your community such as: Rotary, Kiwanis, Lions, Eagles, the Elks Lodge, the Junior League, Shriners International, the Women's Club, music clubs and associations, sororities and fraternities, choral groups and other community music ensembles, etc.—these are professional organizations that have many scholarships already in place. Often, all you need to do is attend a meeting, sing or perform, and talk about why, how, and what you are doing. They may award you a preset scholarship amount or "pass the hat" and take up a donation for you. 

Explore every possible club and organization in the community you are currently living as well as in your hometown (if you are away at university, for example). Ask friends and family for suggestions. Reach out to them via email, phone, or even write a letter. It may be old-fashioned, but some organizations still appreciate snail mail. 

P L A C E S   O F   W O R S H I P

If you or someone you know is involved in a local church, temple, or other place of worship, inquire about presenting a benefit concert or recital. If some of your colleagues are also attending IPAI or you live close to another IPAI participant, consider collaborating on a joint concert or scheduling concerts in both of your cities, churches, or communities. Also inquire if your church or religious organization has scholarships for college students or educational opportunities. Perhaps a music society is associated with your church or temple that also has scholarship, concert, or performing opportunities. 

Share the exciting news with your pastor or music minister so that they can join in your success and celebration! Politely ask if they would include it in the weekly announcements and make a point to share that you are looking for fundraising opportunities. Maybe some kind, little church lady.... you know the one... would love to be your personal patron or music angel! You'll never know, unless you ask and share. 

Y O U R   U N I V E R S I T Y,   C O L L E G E,   O R   S C H O O L

Did you know that some of our past participants have gotten up to six credits of independent study for their time at IPAI? And that this often qualified them for student financial aid to cover a portion of their tuition?

Inquire with your advisor, the financial aid office, and the international or study abroad office at your school, college, or university. Share the good news of your acceptance into a highly competitive young artist training program. Direct them to our website, especially the program page for your area, our faculty, and guest artist pages. If you need a letter of confirmation, a statement about your involvement in the program, or a summary of classes and hours of study, reach out to us and we will be happy to create an official letter for you. 

Be sure to ask the financial aid office about grants, scholarships, and whether you can use federal student aid or loans to pay tuition for international programs of study such as IPAI. There are often “hidden” monies allocated to promote students studying abroad or in the arts. Are you a minority student, have a unique ethnic or cultural heritage, a person of color, a person with a disability, or meet some other special criteria? Inquire about awards for people who meet these unique qualifications or specializations. Ask lots of questions and find out where to get information about whether such grants and scholarships exist.

You may also consider inquiring with the foreign language department about receiving credit for your German classes.

Ask your Theatre and Music departments if there are opportunities for you to raise money within the department. Offer to sell baked goods and refreshments during intermission at the next musical, opera, play, recital, or concert.  Don’t hesitate to ask. The worst they can say is, "No."

​H O N O R   S O C I E T I E S

If you are a member of a social, academic, or music sorority, fraternity, or honor society, inquire about member scholarships and support. ΣΑΙ, ΦMA, ΤΒΣ, and KKΨ  all have opportunities to apply or audition for local chapter, regional, and national scholarships to fund artistic and educational opportunities.

O T H E R   G R A N T S   &   S C H O L A R S H I P S 

There are numerous professional databases and collections to aid your search for grants and scholarships. You can start with a simple Google search, but only about 10% of the nearly 1.5 million charitable organizations have a website and online presence. Purchasing a solid resource or database is an extremely valuable investment that you can continue to use for other educational programs or funding your college/university study.


There are books of scholarship listings published annually that are organized by requirement, state, type of education program, unique characteristics, etc. Are you a female who is not taller than 5' 5" and on a competitive community bowling team? There's a scholarship for you! Seriously. It's worth exploring if you can make the investment. Best College Reviews compiled a list of The 10 Best Scholarship Books that are available on Amazon and other book stores, some for as little at $25.  


You could also sign up for a subscription to Foundation Directory Online which is a complete database of charitable organizations searchable by keyword, state, city, and cause. A monthly subscription is about $50 and can be cancelled anytime. You could connect with other IPAI participants and share the cost of a 1-month subscription. This is a database that's used by professional grant writers and non-profit organizations. There is a slight learning curve, but you can easily find tutorial videos and the website is fairly easy to navigate. 

Y O U R   E M P L O Y E R   O R   T E M P O R A R Y   J O B S 

Ask your employer if there are any opportunities for grants, scholarships, or donations from their company or business. Small or large, there are often employee-incentives for education, or they may create such an incentive if you ask. Many businesses are happy to support young artists who are enhancing the cultural landscape of their local community. Talk about how your training will enable you to give back to your community. Offer a private performance or concert at their establishment in exchange for a donation. Again, know your value and ask for an amount that is worth your service. You are an artist with highly specialized training. No one else can do what you do. People will pay for quality and you must believe and know that you are high quality. 


Consider contacting local businesses (restaurants, flower shops, grocery stores, warehouses, home improvement stores, garden centers, etc.) to inquire about temporary and short-term work with flexible hours. Ask about project work. For example: ABC Florist needs extra sales people on a busy holiday weekend. Or Joe's Print Shop has a special project and you negotiate a $500-$1000 scholarship for 30 hours of work over the next 1-3 months. You set up a schedule with them and fit in 5 hours/week over 6 weeks or so. Again, creativity is key. Search for mutually beneficial relationships.


Now just might be the perfect time to start a side hustle! Think of things that you like or are skilled to do: babysitting, dog-walking, house-sitting, selling ice cream, tutoring, giving walking tours, teaching voice/music lessons, watering plants, gardening, mowing lawns, flower delivery, pizza delivery, helping people pack and move house, hauling away yard trash or unwanted furniture to the dump, waiting tables, making jewelry or other accessories, painting or other arts, website design or maintenance, social media management, car washing, baking cupcakes, wedding planning, or selling lemonade! You name it, you can make money from it! Look for opportunities and needs in your community. As you get customers, let people know that you are working to earn monty for IPAI. They just may throw some more money your way! 

C O N C E R T S   &   T R A D T I O N A L   F U N D R A I S I N G

Benefit concerts are a great way to share your artistry, your message, and give the gift of music to your community. Connect with other IPAI artists or colleagues who are also raising money for other summer programs to collaborate on a concert together and share the proceeds. Contact other local non-profit organizations like the Humane Society, Big Bothers Big Sisters, United Way, the Red Cross, March of Dimes, Walk for Life, etc. to see if you can join in one of their fundraisers. Perhaps they will pay you to sing at one of their events or even allow you to collect donations for yourself. The spirit of giving at these events is contagious!

Don't discount the traditional fundraisers you did as an elementary student! Gather a group of friends and family to put on a car wash, bake sale, or yard sale. Sell candy or Krispy Kreme doughnuts. Host a chili cook-off, BBQ, or potluck dinner with games and raffle tickets. Get someone to donate prizes and your guests will play along to support you. Make it fun, sociable, and stress-free and people will thank you for the opportunity (and excuse) to gather together. 

V I R T U A L   C A M P A I G N S   &   C R O W D F U N D I N G

Now that most of us are performing or hosting virtual events in some capacity, create a virtual concert as a fundraising event. You could record songs anew or just compile a group of recordings you already have into a virtual concert. Set it up as a premier on Youtube or stream it to Facebook, Instagram, and other platforms. Set up your preferred donation method online or share a PayPal or Venmo link and information with your audience. Host a live chat while the performance is happening to engage and connect with your audience. Send your recorded concert to friends and family via email or social media encouraging them to donate. 

Plan a social media campaign and utilize IPAI marketing and social media posts to help you promote yourself and this opportunity. If you have a large or highly-engaged social media following, you might also check out Patreon to give your fans a platform to donate to you on a more regular basis.

Crowdfunding is always a staple of any virtual donation or sponsorship campaign. Planning and clear communication will help you be more successful and collect more dollars and cents. Create an engaging introduction video where you speak about your WHY and how IPAI will help you reach your artistic goals. Then share a little about what you'll be doing over the summer and maybe a breakdown of some of the program expenses. Communicate your fundraising goal very clearly. Be honest and trust your intuition. Share your campaign on all of your social media platforms and join as many Facebook groups as possible who align with your purpose. Share your campaign on those Facebook groups if donation solicitation is allowed.


Some of Crowd Funding websites to consider:


Here’s a list of some more resources and ideas as you develop your personal fundraising strategy:


“The Etiquette of Fundraising: How to Ask Your Friends and Family to Raise Money for a Good Cause”


“How to Ask for Donations: A Guide for Individuals Who are Raising Money”

“15 Little-Known Study Abroad Fundraising Ideas”


“40 Fundraising Ideas for Study Abroad”


“Fund My Study Abroad”


“Discover study abroad fundraisers on GoFundMe”


“Creative Ways to Fund a Study Abroad Experience”


“What Is Patreon and How Does It Work?”


“What You Need to Know About Fundraising on Facebook”


“4 Awesome Tips for Asking for Donations on Facebook”


“12 Websites Offering Odd Jobs to Earn Extra Cash”


“4 Amazing Study Abroad Grants to Apply for Now”


“Funding Study Abroad”


“Study Abroad Scholarships & Aid”

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