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Crowdfunding for a Personal Cause:
A Sick Family Member, Someone in Dire Financial Crisis, Etc.

credits and disclaimer

Introduction

There are oh-so-many people in the world desperate for immediate financial help

  • for medical bills/expenses for themselves or a family member
  • to be able to keep their house
  • to buy an RV so they have some place to live. Medical treatment for a beloved pet
  • for funeral costs
  • etc.

People in these situations often try crowdfunding - asking for money online - to raise the money they desperately need. They have read some article somewhere about someone quickly raising thousands of much needed dollars just by posting a plea to the Internet and thought, hey, I could do that!

If you are thinking of doing this, first, here are four reality checks you need to keep in mind:

  1. There are not thousands of people with a big bag of money, who are surfing the web, trying to find a stranger in need to donate it to.
     
  2. Most people will NOT donate to a cause that benefits a stranger, no matter how heart-wrenching the story. Most successful crowdfunding efforts - few that they are - have raised small amounts of money from friends of the beneficiary, not strangers. The more friends you have, and the more they care about you, the more money you will raise.
     
  3. You are competing with several thousand other people that are desperate for funds and are trying to raise the funds via crowdfunding, as well as all of the people raising money from friends for a run or walk they are going to participate in to benefit a nonprofit.
     
  4. Most crowdfunding efforts FAIL. Most efforts do not raise the needed money, and as a result, all money is returned to the people that pledged it.

Know those four points before you invest the time in a crowdfunding platform to try to raise money.

Step One:

Pick an amount that you are fundraising for. The smaller the amount, the more likely you will be able to raise funds. $500 is far more realistic than $1500. Do not try to raise the entire amount of money being asked for by a doctor, the vet, an RV dealership, etc. - you must pay some of this amount yourself, and say how much you will be paying. Otherwise, why should someone give money to a cause that benefits you but you don’t contribute anything yourself?

Also, pick a certain date by which you need this particular amount.

Step Two:

Have at least three people in mind who you know will give money to your cause. Talk to those three good friends in person, tell those three people what you are going to do, and ask them if, right after you launch the campaign, they would make a donation online, and make a comment along with the donation about why they are doing it. People are more likely to give if they see other people giving.

Step Three:

In your appeal, note what YOU are doing yourself to earn the money you need. Are you working extra shifts? Have you taken a second job? Are you mowing lawns for cash? Are you babysitting? Have you gotten rid of your Netflix subscription, your DirectTV subscription, any other cable, for the duration of time it will take to raise these funds? Are you hosting a garage sale or selling things on eBay to raise funds? In your appeal, you have to show that you are sacrificing and working to raise the money that you need.

You can note in your appeal that, in addition to trying to get donations, you are also offering babysitting services, or lawn mowing services, or laundry services, etc.,  and how someone could contact you to arrange such. This shows that you are serious and raising the money and are willing to work for it. If someone does contact you and hires you, be punctual and do absolutely the best possible job - your work will be a reflection of your character, and the person that hires you may end up not only paying you, but making an additional donation as well.

Step Four:

Launch your appeal on a crowdfunding site. Choose ONE site - do not pick several. In your appeal, note why you need the money, exactly how much you need, how much you have given / are sacrificing to pay some of the funds yourself (see previous point) and what will happen if you don’t raise the money. Be honest and be clear. Include a scan or photo of the bill you are trying to pay. Include a photo of the person or family you are raising money for. Or the animal.

And be clear that this is a ONE time appeal, that you are not going to come back in six months and beg for more money.

Step Five:

Share the fundraising appeal via your Facebook account, to reach your friends, and ask your friends to please share the appeal with their friends. Ask the people who donate to say when they share it that they have contributed to the cause.

Also share the fundraising appeal via email to people that you know well enough to solicit from. These could be neighbors, co-workers (remember that many employers do NOT allow such solicitations via work email accounts), church friends, etc. Do NOT put all the email addresses in the “to” line - that’s incredibly rude. Write an individual email to each person - even if you are cutting and pasting the same email over and over again. Open the email with the specific person’s name: “Dear John….”

You can say something like this: “This is a really difficult email to write, but this is a difficult situation, one that requires me to ask for your help, if at all possible…”

Assure the person that they do not have to give, that you hope that your friendship will not change because of this solicitation, etc.

Step Six:

If you are a part of a particular group that would allow fundraising appeals to be shared, like a neighborhood group, a group focused on moms in an area, etc., find a friend who will share the appeal for you, someone who will say something like, “I just gave to this fundraising effort, and I hope some of you might as well…” It will be much more effective coming from someone else than you.

Step Seven:

Thank every contributor personally, directly. A phone call is best. Also, share a link to the appeal again on your Facebook page and say, “I want to thank so-and-so for donating $xx to help xxxx.”

Step Eight:

Is there something unique or especially touching about your appeal? If so, local TV stations MIGHT be interested in talking about your appeal on a news cast. A TV station probably isn’t going to be interested in talking about someone who needs help with vet bills unless the dog is a certified, trained therapy dog, or the dog is helping a military veteran who has seen combat. A TV station probably isn’t going to be interested in talking about someone who is trying to buy an RV to live in unless that person has lead an especially tragic life, is in recovery and has no recent police record. Media is probably not going to be interested in a fundraising effort to get someone to beauty school.

Step Nine:

Give updates. You can do this on the platform itself, and then share a link to the appeal yet again on your Facebook page, noting the update (“We’re halfway to our goal… We have 10 days left… “)

Step Ten:

Some people will be angry by your pleas for money, no matter how worthy the cause. They will think you should have had savings so that you shouldn’t have to beg for money. They will think you aren’t working hard enough. They will think you are selfish to ask for help. The world is full of haters who love the Internet because it gives them an avenue to spew out negative comments and opinions. You will need a thick skin as you receive these.

Fundraising platforms

Do NOT use more than one fundraising platform! That will NOT help you reach more people! Pick ONE.

Note: all fundraising site take out a small portion of each donation for administrative and other costs, which can range from 5%-20% of funds raised.

GiveForward

FundRazr 

YouCaring

GoFundMe  

Rally.org

Also see 5 crowdfunding mistakes to avoid

Taxes

All money you raise, even as donations, is taxable income. You must keep track of the money you raise, and report it as income on your tax returns.

Also see

© 2017 by Jayne Cravens, all rights reserved. No part of this material can be reproduced in print or in electronic form without express written permission by Jayne Cravens.

 

 
 
 
 
Suggested books:

 
Planning Special Events (J-B Fund Raising School Series)

 
Fundraising When Money Is Tight: A Strategic and Practical Guide to Surviving Tough Times and Thriving in the Future (The Mal Warwick Fundraising Series)

 
199 Fun and Effective Fundraising Events for Nonprofit Organizations

 
Raising More Money: The Ask Event Handbook

 
Doing Good Together: 101 Easy, Meaningful Service Projects for Families, Schools, and Communities

 
Engage Every Parent!: Encouraging Families to Sign On, Show Up, and Make a Difference

 
Legal Answer Book for Fund-Raisers Set, Set Contains:First and Second Legal Answer Books for Fund-Raisers

 
Start Your Own Event Planning Business  


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