by Work the World

Medical, Guides, Funding

Daunted by the idea of finding the cash to fund your medical elective?

Feel like it’s not worth the bother?

Well, it is. It really, definitely is.

People regularly manage to raise thousands towards their medical electives. Get creative with it and you might even raise the whole cost of your placement.

Fundraising events 

Clark, Lisa

Fundraising events are the surest way to kickstart your medical elective funding. So how do you make it work?

Get clever.

Bake sales are great — they can (and do) work. But answer this —

Which is easier:

  • Selling 100 x £1.50 ($3.00) cakes
  • Selling 10 x £15.00 ($30.00) dinner party tickets

By all means run a bake sale — some people just want cake! But please also think bigger.

Try hosting ticketed events like film nights, open mic nights, fancy dress parties… the wackier and more original the idea, the better.

You can also try running a paid-entry competition, give something up for a month, or get people to sponsor you to take a baked bean bath. And to learn more about how you can make money from fundraising events, visit our funding hub.

Finding a sponsor


Why pay for your own trip when you can get a company to sponsor you?

If you’re up to it, this is a simple way to give your medical elective funding efforts a big cash injection. Here’s why —

Companies want to be seen in a good light.

You can offer them the chance to associate their name to something positive.

They might want something in return. You might need to mention them in a social media post, take a photo in one of their t-shirts… You get the idea.

You don’t even have to ask them for money…

Need a new suitcase for your trip? See if the local luggage shop will give you one. Hiking boots a bit worse for wear? Contact your local outdoors shop to see if there’s anything they can do to help.

Winning over a sponsor can be a challenge. But you stand a better chance if you use the free email template on our ‘Finding a Sponsor’ page.

Grants and bursaries

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There are tens of thousands of pounds in grant and bursary pots all over the UK. It’s just sitting there.

And you can use that money to help your medical elective funding efforts. So how do you access it?

First you need to find out which ones you’re eligible for. Which is easy, because we’ve pulled together a massive list you can browse at your leisure.

Then you start applying for as many as you can. They all have their own application criteria, but you’ll be able to reuse bits of information to save you writing it out over and again. 

Then you wait.

If your application is accepted the funding body might as something of you — you might have to write an essay about your time overseas for example. But otherwise it’s essentially free money towards your trip.

Get help with your application by reading our (very detailed) grants and bursaries guide.

Online fundraising profiles


You’ve seen them before — the GoFundMe, JustGiving and EasyFundraising pages.

You’ve read the descriptions — people asking friends, family and kind strangers for some cash towards a worthy cause.

Now it’s your turn.

First choose a platform. They’re all basically the same, but it’s worth diving into each to read about terms and conditions, percentages and so on.

Then you need to get to work writing your page. Some questions to answer —

  • What’s your aim?
  • Who are you (inject personality)?
  • How much do you want to raise?
  • Where will the money go?
  • Why are you doing this in the first place?

Whatever you write, keep it brief and to the point.

You can read our full guide on how to write an online fundraising page for more info.

When you’re done, all you need to do is let people know you’re raising money. 

How best to do that?

let people know you’re raising money

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Here’s a secret — this is a numbers game.

The more people you tell about what you’re doing, the more money you’re likely to make.

So, getting your message out to as many people as possible is the most important thing you can do.

There are things you’ll have already thought of — telling friends and family, putting up posters in the union bar, posting it on Instagram…

All solid ideas.

But you want to reach a lot more people than that if you want to stand a chance at raising the big bucks. Here’s what to do —

Contact local newspapers and tell them what you’re doing and why. National newspapers will be harder to approach (they’re busy publishing articles about celebrities and the Royal Family), so focus your efforts on small local publications.

The same thing goes for local radio stations and podcasts — you might be able to get someone to give you a shoutout.

And it almost goes without saying that timing is key here. You don’t want to get in contact when a big piece of news has broken. Wait to cast your dice until a slow news day.

There’s a lot more to it than this. We’ve got a whole page on how to get your message out there, so head over there to get the insider information.

Budgeting guide

A high school teenager is writing down monthly budget in her notebook. A piggy bank is sitting on the table.

Finally — and this is probably the most obvious tactic on the list — you can raise funds for your medical elective by spending less.

This seems like a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised how many people struggle with it.

First things first — work out exactly how much you need. Take into consideration things like:

  • Your placement cost
  • Flights
  • Spending money
  • In-country travel
  • Insurance
  • Vaccinations
  • Visas
  • etc.

When you’ve got your total, you should take a good long look at what you spend each month. There are plenty of budgeting apps you can download to help you track your spending — some banking apps have this feature too. 

Then all you have to do is see where you can cut back. A few pounds here and there, over the course of a few months, will make a big difference.

It’s a tired phrase, but it all adds up.

You can read our full guide to budgeting here.

Success Stories

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If you’re savvy, medical elective funding has never been easier.

If you’re in any doubt that you can do it, read the success stories — you’ll see how simple it is.

You’ll find stories from students who've raised money with everything from cake sales to concerts. You can make the process as straightforward or as intricate as you like.

Now read this:

Funding Hub

Visit our funding hub to get even more info on medical elective funding. Read everything from how to find a sponsor to success stories.


What is the typical cost of a Work the World medical elective?

Registration for all destinations is £300. Prices then vary depending on how long you want to go for and where you want to travel to. Our minimum placement duration is one week with no upper limit. On average electives are normally between 4 - 6 weeks. 

How can I fund my medical elective?

It's not uncommon for people to raise enough money to cover the cost of their entire medical elective - with the tips in this fundraising hub, you stand an excellent chance of doing so yourself.

What are the benefits of medical electives from Work the World?

The benefits of our medical electives include:

  • Expanding your clinical knowledge and skill set
  • Becoming more confident, independent and resourceful
  • Making yourself more attractive to employers
  • Doing some proper travelling
  • Building your personal and professional network
  • Sharpening your language and communication skills
  • Renewing your perspective on the NHS

What countries can I travel to on a Work the World medical elective?

Work the World organise medical electives in Africa, Asia or Latin America, with placements in many different countries: 1. Tanzania 2. Zambia  3. Vietnam 4. Mexico 5. Ghana 6. The Philippines 7. Nepal 8. Sri Lanka.

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