A job loss or major medical crisis can turn life from successful to floundering in an instant. Charities and government agencies may be able to help with medical bills, the mortgage or food, but some families still fall through the cracks. At that point, some people turn to the public and ask for donations. Donations earmarked for specific individuals aren't tax-deductible, but you may find people are still willing to give if the need is great.
Making Your Case
When you ask for money, be specific about what it's for, whether it's a liver transplant or to avoid losing your house. Share information that will engage donors, such as the circumstances that led to your financial distress or how a sick child might have suffered. Talk about the efforts you've made to find help from government programs or charitable organizations. This lets you demonstrate that you exhausted all other options before asking for donations. To engage your audience, make the appeal personal by emphasizing "you" when addressing them. Target individual donors rather than businesses, which usually prefer funneling their charitable contributions through non-profit organizations.
Organizing a fundraising event may bring in more money than just asking people for help. An event can be anything from a dinner or cancer walk to a bowling tournament. You can raise money by finding sponsors or charging an entry fee. Ask local stores if they'd donate prizes for you to give donors. Talk to restaurants about hosting a fundraising dinner. Ask local charities or churches about the requirements for setting up events. A local group that has already held a 5k charity walk can tell you how to apply for city approval.
Whether you have an event planned or just want to ask for donations, you have to publicize it. Set up a Facebook page, website, YouTube video or Twitter account to help spread the word and solicit donations. Contact reporters at the local newspaper or TV station to see if your hardship, and efforts to raise money, might make for an interesting story. Don't stop the promotion after donations come in. People who care enough to give will probably appreciate updates about how the fight is going and how you spent the money.
Keeping Operations Transparent
Don't hide anything from donors or volunteers. If a restaurant wants to see a list of your unpaid medical bills before it agrees to host a fundraising dinner, provide the information. You may feel embarrassed, but asking for proof of your hardship is a reasonable request. Set up a separate bank account for donations so that the money is clearly separate from your regular account. The separate account also makes it easier to show where the money went. If donors can follow the money trail, they'll be more comfortable opening their wallets. Transparency also protects you against fraud charges.
- Internal Revenue Service: Charitable Contributions
- Patient Advocate Foundation: Fundraising Ideas for Patients
- The Jennifer Trust: How to Organize a Fundraising Event
- Fundraising IP: Creating a Page on Facebook
- Massachusetts Attorney General: Fundraising for an Individual
- Step By Step Fundraising: Guide to Writing Fundraising Letters
- Step By Step Fundraising: Raising Money for Individuals With Health Conditions
- GrantSpace: How Can We Raise Money for a Single Individual or Famiy in Need?