May 18, 2013

Online Fundraising

I have a friend that is very sick and her family is trying to pay her medical bills, pay for her care and maintain their regular bills.  At first I tried to help by purchasing some medical supplies for her.  I realized that, although they appreciated what I was doing, it was barely making a dent in what they needed.  The supplies are very expensive and the insurance isn't covering everything.  My friend's father quick working to care for her so they don't have much income coming in.  As much as I want to help, I know I couldn't afford to give enough to really make a difference.  I had to find a way to get more people involved but I wasn't sure where to start.

I did some research on fundraising sites and found  So I set up an online fundraiser for my friend and started sending out emails.  People can go to the site and donate by credit card.  93% of all funds raised go to the individual.  7% is kept for credit card processing fees and to maintain the website. People donating can choose to pay the 7% fee.  Here are some things I learned about fundraising online.

1. Make a large donation to set the bar high.  I made a $100 donation before sending any donation requests out.  People that went to the website could see this and it seemed that a lot donated $50, $100 or more.  Much more than I had anticipated people to give, especially from my people that don't even know my friend.

2.  Don't feel guilty asking for donations.  I had a hard time with this.  I hate asking for money, but I was surprised at how many people were willing to donate.  A lot of people that I never thought would, did.  I didn't want to ask a lot of people from work since they didn't even know my friend. But I was surprised how quickly word got out and  people donated that I hadn't even asked.

3. Give people options.  Some people didn't feel comfortable going to the website to donate and instead just gave money straight to me.  As money came in, I just gave it straight to my friend.

4.  Give people a deadline and keep following up.  People are busy with their own lives.  I sent emails out to all of my friend's email contacts 3 times.  Each time only one or two people made it to the website to donate.  When I sent the final email out the day before the deadline, we received a larger response.  I felt like I was badgering people sending so many emails out, but I really think a lot of people planned to donate "later" and then never made it back to the website.  The reminder emails were helpful to keep donations coming in.

In the end, I was able to raise over $3000 for my friend through this fundraiser.  A lot more than the $100 here or there I was able to give.

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