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Raising Money For Medical Expenses: A Step-by-Step Guide

Many families need help with medical bills. With GiveForward, raising money for medical expenses, can be the quickest and easiest way to help.  Before getting started, however, it’s critically important to come up with an organized fundraising plan.

We know that most people raising money for medical expenses are fundraising for the first time, so we’ve done the heavy lifting for you. This step-by-step plan tell you how to raise money for medical bills and reach your fundraising goal.  If you are about to start a fundraising page for a friend or loved one, please take the next 15 minutes to read through the plan — trust us, it will make a HUGE difference in the success of your fundraiser.

Step 1:  Build a Fundraising Team to Help Spread the Word

Before you get started raising money for medical bills, ask a few of your mutual friends if they want to be part of the fundraising team. With the assistance of a few friends all sending emails and Facebook messages out to their different networks your team will be able to reach out to 4-5 times as many potential donors as you could by yourself.

As the team leader you will be responsible for drafting the emails and coordinating the efforts, but your team members will be able to help you in spreading the word to a wider group of people.

Note — If you cannot get a group of friends to help with the efforts, don’t worry about it.  Creating a team of friends is definitely helpful, but is not absolutely necessary to be successful.

Step 2: Kick Off  Your GiveForward Medical Fundraiser With a Donation From Yourself

Getting off to a good start is the single greatest thing you can do to make sure you reach your goal.

If you can afford to do so, making the first donation can help start the momentium. Donate as much as you can afford, as this will show people how important this effort is to you and will set the tone for the rest of the fundraiser — if you set the tone by donating a large amount, others will do the same.

Step 3:  Get the Ball Rolling With Big Donations From Your Inner Circle.

After you donate yourself, the next step is to notify a handful of your closest friends and family (your inner circle) and ask them to make large donations  (e.g. $100-$500 each) to get the ball rolling.

Theis works because of the law of monkey see, monkey do. (Yes, we know, it’s a very scientific name).   Simply stated, when people visit your fundraising page, the first things they do after reading the description is check out the donor list to see who has given and what the average donation size is.  Then, they donate a similar amount. If they see that their friends or colleagues are donating between $100 and $500 then they will likely donate between $100 and $500 as well. On the other hand, if they check out your donor list and see that most people are donating between $10-$20, then they’ll probably donate between $10-$20 too.  Seeding your fundraiser page with large donations from friends and family at the outset is probably the most important thing you can do to ensure a successful fundraiser, so we really want to stress how important this step is.

Once your friends and family in your innermost circle have donated, reach out to your next closest group of friends (e.g. 5-10 college friends or high school friends) and describe why you are raising money for medical expenses.  Do this until a large number of your close friends and family have donated.  Then, and only then should you move on to step 4.

Here is an example from a past fundraiser page that illustrates why this strategy works:  Team Nicole Fundraiser

On the donor list, you can see that they got big donations from their inner circle before notifying others about the effort.  By the time “the masses” on Facebook saw the fundraiser the family had already raised close to $3000.  This made the newcomers who were seeing it for the first time much more inclined to donate, as they could see that the fundraiser already had a lot of momentum.  In total, the family raised over $25,000 in just one week.

Step 4. Reach out on Facebook

Almost all fundraisers that have raised $10,000+ on GiveForward have done so with the help of Facebook.   This is probably the second most important tip we can give you.  Facebook is an amazing tool and helps spread the word more quickly.

Once you have reached out to your close friends and family, and \a second or third tier of closer friends and work colleagues, you’ll now want to reach out to the “masses” on Facebook.

To spread the word on Facebook, you will want to set up a group for your friend or loved one.  Invite all your friends to join the group and be sure to ask them to ask their friends to join the group as well.  Ask some of your close friends to become administrators of the group and ask them to invite everyone they know to join the group and donate as well

Once you have the group set up you can use it to send people updates about your friend or loved one’s health status, medical bills, or just things that are going on in their life.  You can use these updates as an opportunity to ask for contributions by including a link to your GiveForward fundraising page in of all the messages.

Here is an example of Facebook group that worked really well for one of our past users who was raising money for her friend’s daughter with Leukemia.   The Miss Madison Facebook Fan Club

Step 5:  Be Persistent

Once you have built a large enough Facebook group (and/or email list), continue to ask people to donate.  The key is to be persistent! Not everyone will donate the first time you ask, but if you keep asking, most people will eventually come around.

Also, it’s important to remember that sending requests for donations is a two-way street. You want people to be eager to receive your email or Facebook message, not to delete it or dump it in the trash right when they get it.  A great way to keep your donor base engaged is to start your emails or Facebook messages with a “thank you” and then give updates about your friend’s health, progress, etc. whenever you are asking for donations.  Another way to keep people engaged is to start off your emails with updates about the progress of the fundraiser (e.g. “WooHoo!  We just hit 20% of our fundraising goal today! Thanks so much!!! You guys rock!!)


If you follow the first five steps you should be able to get off to a great start.  As time goes on, however, it’s inevitable that people’s interest in your fundraiser will begin to wane. The next five steps are specific fundraising “promotions” designed to help you keep your donors engaged once the initial wave of enthusiasm has died down.  All of these ideas have worked well for our past users.  However, it’s important to note that you do not need to do all of them.  You can mix and match and choose the ones you think would work best for you.

Step 6: Do a Matching Donation Drive

The way a matching donation drive works is you issue a challenge to your network to raise X amount of money in a short time period with the promise that if the goal is reached, a generous donor will match the total raised.

For example, you might send out an email or Facebook message that says “If we can raise $2000 in the next 36 hours, a generous donor will match it with another $2000.”

This tip has worked really well for some of our past fundraisers. For example, the fundraiser below used two matching donation drives to raise over $85,000 in just a one month for a young father battling renal cancer:  Johan’s GiveForward Fundraising Page

For detailed instructions on how to set up a matching donation drive, check out the blog post below:

How to get Matching Donations

Step 7:  Offer Your Donors a Chance to Win a Prize

Friends and family commonly hold offline raffles at their local community centers as a way to raise money for a loved one who needs help with medical bills.  This long-held fundraising method can easily be applied to your online fundraiser on GiveForward as well.

Providing a little extra incentive by offering a prize is a good way to get donations from those people who might not have responded to your first, second, or third donation requests.  The blog post below explains step-by-step how to pull off your online raffle.

How to set up an online raffle using your fundraising page.

Step 8:  Ask For a Specific Amount on a Certain Date

Another tactic that has worked really well for our past users is to pick a date and ask people to each give a specific dollar amount on that date.  For example, you may ask your Facebook group or email list to donate $15 on the 15th of January.   Asking for a certain amount of money on a certain date helps because it creates an extra sense of urgency and makes thing more tangible for your donors.

You can check out the blog post below for an example of how it helped one fundraiser raise $1500 in a day for her friend’s daughter fighting Leukemia.

Fundraising Tip: Asking for a Specific Amount

Step 9. Hold a 24-hour Facebook awareness campaign

One additional Facebook strategy you can use that has worked extremely well for past users is to do a 24-hour Facebook awareness campaign.  One of our past users, Amy Cowin, who raised $31,000 for her sister’s kidney transplant, used this technique to help her fundraiser go “viral” and start getting donations from strangers all across the country.

Here’s how it works — with a 24-Hour Facebook awareness campaign you don’t actually ask people to donate money.  Rather, you simply ask that everyone “donate” their Facebook status message for 24 hours to:

The idea is that even if your friends can’t afford to donate money, they will be happy to “donate” their status message.  With hundreds or even thousands of people all with the same status message, many strangers around the world will see it and some will be inclined to donate, especially if they can relate to the situation.

To see how to set up a 24-hour Facebook campaign, check out the following blog post.

Fundraising Tip:  How to Set up a 24-Hour Facebook Awareness Campaign

Step 10Finish Your Fundraiser with a Bang.

Before the last few days of the fundraiser ask everyone on your email list and Facebook group to donate the dollar amount of the day the fundraiser ends.  e.g.  “donate $31 on March 31st”.

This promotion helps to give all those procrastinators out there a little extra incentive to donate before the buzzer.  Check out the blog post below for more info.

Fundraising Tip:  Finish Your Fundraiser With a Bang

Okay, that’s it!  One last note, before you get started – typically, the very first thing most people want to do after they create their GiveForward fundraising page is send out a mass email to all their friends and family.  We know this seems like it would make the most sense, but it is actually the last thing you want to do.  Avoid the temptation to use this “shotgun” approach!!!  Instead, stick to our step-by-step plan and we promise that you will raise WAY more money.  If you have ANY questions don’t hesitate to email us:

Sending you hugs, high fives and positive vibes!!!

– Ethan and the whole GF Team

PS – for more fundraising tips, check out our Fundraising Tips

Need help raising money for medical expenses? Create a crowdfunding page on GiveForward, and we’ll take care of the rest!

GiveForward is the first place to turn when you or someone you love is facing a challenge. It’s the central rallying place for giving and receiving meaningful support. From sending a simple “Thinking of You” to raising money for out-of-pocket expenses, GiveForward empowers anyone to build a community and take action when it counts.

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