Volunteering abroad is an ethical way to make a difference in the world today; it can come as a surprise, then, that it costs money to venture overseas for a good cause. Flights, accommodation and meals need to be covered as part of a volunteer vacation but don’t let these expenses put you off – there are ways to raise funds and make your dream of volunteering abroad a reality.

When you tally up the various costs associated with traveling abroad, the final figure can seem unattainable; you can save money towards the cost of volunteering abroad but you might wonder if you’ll ever reach that target – especially if you’re working to a specific timeframe. Don’t despair – fundraising is a great way to cover the costs of your volunteer vacation. 

The advent of websites like GoFundMe and JustGiving has made fundraising easier and more accessible, and it might be worthwhile to set up a project page for friends, family and even third parties to make a donation towards your volunteer vacation. Another option is to organize your own fundraising event, such as a dinner party at home; invite friends and family members for an evening of great food and company and raise money for your volunteer vacation in the process.

To ensure your dinner fundraiser goes without a hitch, read through our planning checklist

The venue

For a small-scale gathering of friends and family, your home is probably the best location for a dinner party. It may be possible to hire a venue if you can find somewhere suitable that won’t charge for use of its function room but in many cases, the simplest option is to use the space already available to you, which won’t cost a penny.

Keep the numbers appropriate for the size of your home and rearrange the space to ensure your guests won’t be too cramped. Once you’ve planned out the layout, you can clear away clutter and prepare the room for the big event. To add a bit of decor, you could have a go at making your own posters or garlands that highlight your cause. Alternatively, some tealights or rose petals in a decorative bowl can make a pretty but cost-effective centerpriece for the table.

A theme

Why not add a bit of interest to your dinner event by choosing a theme? If you want to tailor the event to your personal fundraising goals, you could plan a global flavors food menu that incorporates dishes or snacks from around the world. Look to your host nation for inspiration – if you’re hoping to volunteer in Thailand, for example, you could incorporate traditional Thai dress, dancing or music, as well as serving Thai food.

Make your event more effective by planning a presentation for your guests – you can ask your volunteer abroad company for footage to use on a projector or read up on local customs to give your guests an insight into life in your volunteer nation. If you can, find some figures that hammer home where and why your help is needed, and suggest another get-together for when you return so that your guests can learn all about your experiences and how their money was well spent.

Your budget

Ideally, your fundraiser dinner party needs to be as easy on your wallet as possible, after all, it wouldn’t make sense to spend a small fortune on entertaining if you only just recoup the outlay from your guests’ donations! Work out what you plan to cook, what you’ll serve to drink and any extras you need, and stick to the budget without getting carried away.

In terms of raising funds, it’s a good idea to set a minimum donation amount and ensure guests are aware of this before the party; people may be unsure of how much to donate so having a minimum figure can be a useful guide. Why not make your own invitations and note down the ‘guide’ donation amount so that your guests know how much to contribute before the event? For a breakdown of volunteering fees, you can check out our website for a clearer idea of how much money you’ll need to raise for your trip.


If you’re hosting a dinner party at home, catering shouldn’t be too difficult – simply find out what friends or family like to eat and follow some recipes. You might want to do a practice run if you’re a bit unsure of your culinary abilities! You may need to find out whether the event’s attendees have any special dietary needs or allergies beforehand, and take the details into account when creating your menu.

To keep costs down, opt for a simple and flexible meal that can be made veggie by having the same base as the non-vegetarian option but omitting the meat or fish. Depending on your host nation, you could opt for a traditional three-course meal, serve lots of dishes at once or create a taster menu comprising a number of courses. Don’t forget to stock up on some refreshments, you can charge invited guests for drinks that go towards your fund.


The scale of your fundraising event will determine how much help you’ll need to enlist. For a dinner party at home, you may be able to handle the logistics and preparations yourself with minimal support; even so, a helpful pair of hands or some great ideas can be welcome if you’re not a culinary whiz or want a bit of advice from a seasoned dinner party host willing to share their top tips with you.

Once you’ve researched your meal plan, you can ask for a bit of supervision from a good cook you know or a friend native to your host country to really get your menu dinner party ready and whip up some authentic cuisine. If you need some ideas for creating a memorable occasion, friends, family and even your volunteer abroad company can provide advice and suggestions to help your dinner party be the effective event you need it to be.


Arranging a dinner fundraiser can help you cover the costs of volunteering abroad while providing an opportunity for family and friends to get together for a fun time ahead of your journey overseas. It’s not always easy to organize but when the plan comes together you’ll be able to take the credit for a job well done and, with any luck, put a good chunk of cash towards volunteering abroad. All that remains is to enjoy the event and make the most of the opportunity before heading overseas to make a difference.

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