Your health is your most valuable possession—but what happens when preserving it costs you a fortune? On our crowdfunding platform, many have discovered that crowdfunding is often the quickest and easiest way to ease a financial burden—yours or someone else’s.
Before starting a medical fundraising page for yourself, a friend, or a loved one, take the next few minutes to read through these fundraising ideas for medical expenses—it could make a huge difference in the success of your fundraiser.
Five essential steps
Step 1: Gather a fundraising team
Before launching a medical fundraiser, ask a few of your friends (or friends of the beneficiary) if they want to be part of the fundraising team. As they old saying goes, “many hands make light work,” and that’s certainly true for fundraising of any kind. Not only will the work itself be easier, but your fundraiser will also have greater reach through team members’ combined social networks.
(Note that if you can’t get a group of friends to team up, don’t worry. While a fundraising team is ideal, it isn’t necessary for success. We see individuals succeed every day on YouCaring.)
Step 2: Kick off your fundraiser with your own donation
Human psychology can be a funny thing. Believe it or not, people are more likely to donate to a fundraiser to which others have already donated. It’s vital that you (and your fundraising team) kick things off by making the first donations. Once you’ve done that, be sure to share your fundraising page with your inner circle of friends before sharing it more broadly. Learn more about the psychology of giving.
Step 3: Get the ball rolling with big donations from your inner circle
When people visit a fundraising page, the most common they do after reading the description is check the donor list to see who’s given and the average donation size—then they donate a similar amount.
If people see that friends and colleagues are donating between $100–$500, they’ll likely donate between $100 and $500. If they see that most people are donating $10–$20, they’ll probably donate a similar amount. Seeding your fundraiser page with large donations from friends and family at the outset is one of the most important things you can do to ensure a successful fundraiser.
After you make your own donation, notify a handful of your closest friends and family (your inner circle) and ask them to make large donations ($100–$500 each if possible) to get the ball rolling.
Once they’ve donated, reach out to your next closest group of friends (say, five or 10 college or high school friends) and describe why you’re raising money for medical expenses. Follow up with people from these inner circles until a large number of your close friends and family have donated.
Then, and only then, should you move on to step four. By the time neighbors, coworkers, more distant friends, friends of friends, and strangers on Facebook see the fundraiser, your fundraising progress bar should be showing real progress.
Step 4: Reach out on Facebook
Once you’ve reached out to close friends and family, followed by a second or third tier of close friends and work colleagues, reach out to the public on Facebook. Nearly all fundraisers that have raised over $10,000 on YouCaring have done so with the help of Facebook—it’s an amazing tool that helps spread the word more quickly than methods such as email.
To spread the word on Facebook, set up a group for supporting the beneficiary (yourself, or your friend or loved one). Invite all your friends to join the group—and ask them to ask their own friends to do so. Ask close friends to become administrators of the group, and to invite everyone they know as well.
Via the group, send people updates about the beneficiary’s health, medical bills, and everyday news. Use the updates as an opportunity to ask for contributions, including a link to your YouCaring fundraising page in all posts and messages.
Step 5: Ask for donations—again and again
Once you’ve built a large enough Facebook group (and/or email list), continue asking people to donate. Not everyone will donate the first time you ask, but if you keep asking most people will eventually come around.
One approach is to start your Facebook posts with a “thank you” to those who have already donated, follow by updates about progress made, the health of the beneficiary, etc. Conclude by asking for donations from those who’ve yet to contribute, and invite them to become part of the story.
Six bonus tips for boosting and sustaining interest
Follow the first five steps above, and you’ll be off to a great start. As time goes on, however, you’ll eventually see interest in your fundraiser begin to wane. The next six tips are about giving your fundraiser little boosts along the way, keeping supporters engaged and donations flowing for as long as possible. You won’t need all of these methods—mix and match the ones you think will work best for your fundraiser.
Tip 1: Run a matching donation drive
Issue a challenge to your network to raise $X in a short period of time—with the promise that if the goal is reached, a generous donor will match the total raised.
Obviously, in order to run a matching donation drive, you first need to secure a matching donation. This is another area where having a fundraising team can be helpful. Brainstorm a list of potential donors, including wealthy individuals and businesses with a vested interest in seeing the beneficiary return to health. How about the beneficiary’s employer? Or a business the beneficiary has a relationship with? Arrange a meeting and provide a fundraising letter to share with colleagues. In your matching donation request, mention the number of members in your Facebook group (especially if it’s an impressive number), to give a sense of the potential reach of sponsorship.
Once you’ve secured the matching donation, craft a post with a message that says something like, “If we can raise $2,000 in the next 36 hours, _______ will generously match it with another $2,000.”
Tip 2: Offer supporters a chance to win a prize
It’s common for friends and family of the beneficiary to hold raffles at local community centers to raise money. With raffles, you bypass the question “What’s in it for me?” with a practical answer—a chance to win prizes. You may find that those who haven’t been motivated by altruism to make a donation may come around once you offer them a chance at a prize.
Tip 3: Ask for a specific amount on a certain date
Pick a symbolic or otherwise meaningful date and ask people to donate a specific dollar amount on that date. For example, if the beneficiary’s birthday is January 15, ask people on your Facebook group or email list to donate $15 on that day. A deadline helps create a sense of urgency and gives procrastinators the motivation they need to take action.
Tip 4: Run a 24-hour Facebook awareness campaign
One additional Facebook strategy: Run a 24-hour awareness campaign. One of our users, Amy Cowin, raised $31,000 for her sister’s kidney transplant using this technique to help her fundraiser go viral—and she started getting donations from strangers all across the country.
Here’s how it works. Instead of asking people to donate money, ask that they “donate” their Facebook status message for 24 hours to:
Help YOUR FRIEND’S NAME: www.youcaring.com/YOUR-URL
The beauty of this approach is that it gives friends who can’t afford to donate money a way to help. When dozens, hundreds, or even thousands of people post the same status message, strangers around the world will see it, and some will be inclined to donate—especially if they can relate to the situation.
For more details, check out our blog post How to Run a 24-Hour Campaign on Facebook.
Tip 5: Get the attention of local media
Is there something about the beneficiary’s need to pay for medical expenses that seems newsworthy? Is it related to a timely topic? Is there any kind of local news angle? If so, consider reaching out to local media. If your fundraiser gets mentioned on a local TV, radio, magazine, or other news stories, it could significantly boost the number of donations you receive.
Once you have a list of local media to target, search their websites for stories that might be similar to yours. Who wrote those stories? Reach out to them. Follow our free guide How to Get Local Media to Cover Your Fundraiser.
Optionally, write a press release to send to news outlets and consider sending it over a wire service. For more guidance on press releases, see How to Write a Crowdfunding Press Release.
Before reaching out to the media, have compelling pictures or videos at the ready to help you tell your story. Even if you don’t get any media coverage, including these elements on your YouCaring fundraising page will give your fundraiser a boost.
Tip 6: Finish your fundraiser with a bang
People raising funds for a medical procedure sometimes host a party after the procedure is successfully completed—with the party serving as a final fundraising event. Depending on the size of your Facebook group, the event could be a potluck dinner at your house, or a party at a large enough venue to host your attendees.
In your invitation, describe the party as a “thank you” to those who’ve already donated to your fundraiser—and ask those who haven’t donated to do so beforehand or at the event. At the event, you can happily facilitate donations with a mobile device. Optionally, pair this event with our first tip about holding a raffle—with some of the prizes being mementos from the beneficiary’s medical journey. There are many other event ideas you could consider.
A final consolation
Every day, people use YouCaring to successfully raise money for medical expenses. The fundraising ideas for medical expenses we’ve listed here are tried and true ways to make it happen; check out our site and our blog for many other free resources to help you every step of the way. And as with any other fundraiser on our site, we’ll never take a penny of the funds you raise for ourselves. Start a free fundraiser today. You can do this.