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You CAN afford to attend AIMS!


Start your fundraising project to attend AIMS in Graz now!

Accumulating the money to make the trip to Europe may seem daunting at first, but hundreds have done it and you can, too! Here are a number of strategies, including ideas for personal fundraising, AIMS scholarships for certain competition winners, AIMS merit scholarships and work-study grants. Although limited, these funds can augment your fundraising efforts.

The most common way participants raise money is by seeking tax-deductible donations from friends, family and other supporters. As a non-profit 501(3)(c) organization, AIMS can accept donations (tax-deductible to the extent allowed by law) up to the cost of AIMS in Graz, airfare, extra living expenses, and a limited amount for career development. Donations to your account in excess of AIMS expenses are disbursed in Graz.

Apply to many sources. Don’t “put all your eggs in one basket”. Think of yourself as a marvelous tax-deduction and go raise that money! Many participants have raised enough money to attend AIMS in Graz in 25-, 50- and 100-dollar donations. You CAN afford AIMS in Graz!

How to ask for money

Follow these steps as you ask for the support of family, friends and music lovers.

Believe in yourself.

You have a unique talent that has marketable value. You can do what few others can do and what many people enjoy – make music! Visualize the pride your supporters will feel when you make your debut with your local or regional opera company! Think how proud they will be to see you in their orchestra! Think how they will feel when your students benefit from expertise you learned at AIMS in Graz! Think how members of your community will feel when they hear you perform in the future!

Develop your funding pitch.

Articulate what your summer at AIMS will entail and what it can do for you.

  • Start with your career goals. Explain the special opportunity that study in Europe offers and how AIMS in Graz can help you meet your goals. Tell potential donors exactly what you expect to gain from your summer in Graz. Explain the impact it can have on you, your career, your community, school, or region.
  • Talk to others who attended AIMS (or review the Words from Alumni on this site) to hear about what they learned.
Create a proposal or brochure.

Use it as supporting material when you approach potential donors or when you send letters and emails.

  • Outline your funding pitch.
  • Communicate the benefits to your supporters. Explain how donations to the AIMS Scholarship Fund for your benefit are tax-deductible (U.S. citizens) to the extent allowed by law, and all money contributed supports your study.
  • Include a letter from AIMS (available upon request) certifying your acceptance.


Family & Friends

Many participants tell us that family members could afford to help but they didn’t want to ask! If you cannot ask them, whom can you ask? Do not hesitate! Explore your immediate family as a source of revenue first. Within the family circle and among their friends, there are people who know you, who have watched you grow up and develop your talent and who will support your career. Remember, the training of singers starts later than most professions and the internship is long. Produce outstanding results and they will support you.

Please note: Your immediate family [consult IRS rules for exact definition] cannot make tax-deductible donations for your benefit.

Music lovers

Contact persons who have expressed an interest in you and your career in the past. Now is the time to ask them for help in your career development!

  • Do your homework. Borrow yearbooks from organizations that support music in your area to identify possible donors. Look at the list of contributors in regional opera, symphony and other programs of musical events. Volunteer at one of their offices to make contacts with people who love music. The development directors (fundraisers) at these organizations might be able to direct you to likely sources and provide addresses.
  • Other sources are community foundations, service clubs (Rotary, Kiwanis, etc.), music clubs and women’s organizations in your area.
Benefit Concerts

Many singers, pianists and instrumentalists have raised money by presenting benefit concerts. These may take place at the church where you sing or play, at private homes of friends and interested supporters, and at clubs or other venues. Here’s how you can do the same:

  • Look for a support group (friends, family, patrons, music clubs, opera guilds, and other interested parties) to help prepare mailing lists, print programs, handle publicity and other time-consuming work needed to ensure the success of the event.
  • Your job is to prepare a superb concert!
  • When a non-profit organization sponsors your benefit concert, funds donated directly to that organization can be forwarded to AIMS. Alternatively, explain in your recital program or in a brochure that outlines your goals, that individuals can make tax-deductible donations payable to AIMS Scholarship Fund designated for your account. Encourage people to send in their donations immediately. Provide an envelope addressed to the AIMS office in Kansas City and an enclosure card specifying their name, address and your name as the recipient of their donation. We acknowledge all donations. Be sure to include the date for receipt of funds (payment of AIMS fees is due May 15) to lend an air of urgency to your project!
  • Contact AIMS to request copies of the “The AIMS in Graz” brochure and copies of our poster to use in a display.
  • The biggest payoff at your event may be the discovery of a patron who is interested in your project or who has friends who can help. Yes, there are still angels in this world. Start planning today!
AIMS Scholarships

AIMS offers scholarships to winners and, in some cases, runners up of a number of singing competitions.

Metropolitan Opera and Classical Singer Competition Winners may receive full tuition scholarship.

National Association of Teachers of Singing (NATS) Competitions

  • Current First-Place Division Winners at NATS Regional Competitions: Scholarships ranging from $900 – $2,000 in the following Divisions at the Regional level:
    • Third-year Undergraduate men and women
    • Graduate men and women
    • Fourth-year Undergraduate men and women
    • Post-Graduate men and women (in some Regions)
  • Current NATSAA Competition winner

Other Competitions: (Awards vary) Current winners of the

  • Metropolitan Opera
  • Classical Singer Competition
  • Opera/Columbus Competition
  • Baltimore Opera Competition
  • National Opera Association Competition
  • Orpheus National Music Competition for Vocalists (Murfreesboro, TN)
  • The Opera Foundation of Australia
  • The Dallas Opera Guild Career Development Competition
  • Some Miss America competitors

If you are a winner of a competition not named here, call AIMS to ask to be considered for a scholarship.

AIMS may award scholarships to the second or third place winner if the first place winner cannot accept. For more information about these awards, email the AIMS office and state which award and level you won. Be prepared to provide documentation of your win.

Other Funding Sources

Metropolitan Opera Competition Winners may petition the governing council to request funds to help offset airfare/travel costs to Austria.

Fulbright Recipients: The AIMS “German for Musicians” course can meet your language study requirements before the start of your academic year. It should be possible to use your travel grant for travel to Graz.

Faculty Enrichment Grants: Teachers desiring to study at AIMS in Graz are encouraged to seek continuing education funds from their institutions.

Foundations, Grants & Competitions:

  • The Foundation Directory: (Available in most libraries) Published by The Foundation Center (79 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10003, (800) 424-9836), this is the basic source for information on Foundations that make grants to individuals. Check the index for specific subjects and other relevant information. Always start with foundations in your local area. They seek local people to support. You might fit their profile.
  • Career Guide for Singers, published by OPERA America (777 14th St., NW, Suite 520, Washington, DC 20005-3287, (202) 347-9262 phone, (202) 393-0735 fax, lists grants and competitions.
  • New York Opera Newsletter. Published eleven times yearly [P.O. Box 278, Maplewood, NJ 07040, phone (973) 378-9549, fax (973)-378-2372]; see section entitled “Competitions” for a list that includes all of the U.S.
  • Financial Resources for International Study: A Guide for US Nationals published by IIE Books, Institute of International Education, P.O. Box 371, Annapolis Junction, MD 20701-0371, $39.95 plus S&H.
  • The Scholarship Book (Fifth Edition) – “The Complete Guide to Private-Sector Scholarships, Grants, and Loans for Undergraduates”, published by Prentice Hall Publishers, Career & Personal Development, Englewood Cliffs, NJ 07632 or Prentice Hall, Order Processing Dept., P.O. Box 11071, Des Moines, IA 50381-1071.

How AIMS handles money donated in your name

Please note: Your immediate family [consult IRS rules for exact definition] cannot make tax-deductible donations for your benefit. Donations in your name should be received before June 20th of the year you attend.

Singer / Pianists

Your AIMS account is established after your acceptance to AIMS in Graz and payment of fees: a $250 non-refundable application fee and a $300 tuition deposit, a total of $550. Donations can be accepted after the account is open. Amounts exceeding the cost of AIMS in Graz tuition constitutes a Career Development Award and will be disbursed to you in Graz.

If for some reason you cannot attend AIMS in Graz that year, the money is retained in your account until the next year. If you cancel entirely, tax-deductible donations are not refundable directly to you and are transferred to the AIMS Scholarship Fund for general use.


Your AIMS account is opened when your signed contract and the required non-refundable $300 orchestra deposit are received. Donations in your name will be disbursed to you in Graz. If you do not attend AIMS in Graz that year or cancel your participation entirely, tax-deductible donations are not refundable directly to you and are transferred to the AIMS Scholarship Fund for general support. If you have further questions about Career Development Award accounts, contact the AIMS office.

Fundraising suggestions from recent participants

Phoebe Haines, mezzo soprano, attended AIMS in 2015 as a member of the Opera Studio, and received 4th Place in the Meistersinger Competition. Phoebe is a seasoned fundraiser and is seen in this video at the 2015 International Opera Awards where she was an Opera Award Foundation Bursary Recipient.

She has created a funding guide documenting what she did to raise funds to attend AIMS. Click HERE to view Phoebe’s funding guide.

Richard L. Hodges, baritone, attended AIMS in 2015 as a member of the Opera Studio, and was awarded an Honorable Mention at the Meistersinger Competition.

Richard created an three-tier fundraising plan to fund his AIMS experience. Richard also created a funding guide explaining how he went about raising money to attend AIMS. Click HERE to view Richard’s plan for fundraising and HERE for his Hodges Heroes letter.