Step By Step Fundraising Newsletter

June 2006


In this issue -

- 5 Tips for Fundraising for Individuals

- Heart Transplant Fundraiser

- Links to Other Articles About Fundraising for Individuals

- Poll Results: Fundraising Catalogs


Occasionally I hear from people who would like to fundraise to help a particular person who has financial needs based on a medical situation.

Perhaps a hospitalization or treatment is needed for a serious illness. Even with health insurance, facing the financial responsibility of paying for medical treatment can become overwhelming.

This month I'm featuring an article about Jennifer Shih and her fundraising efforts for organ transplant patients, plus a set of tips for anyone who's planning a fundraiser for an individual.

Five Tips for Fundraising for Individuals

1. Research all of your options

When a family is facing a financial hardship due to a serious medical situation, it is important to do some research before jumping into a fundraising effort. After exhausting health insurance options find out about other organizations that may be able to help:

  • Social Services - Speak to social services at the hospital who may be aware of financial resources, foundations and sources of financial help.
  • Family Stay - Find out if there is a Ronald McDonald house or other family stay facility near the hospital which have free or low cost accommodations.
  • Government Agencies & NPOs- Contact local charities that may offer "stop gap" assistance and food banks.

2. Be aware of legal issues

Donations that are given to an individual and not a registered charity are not tax deductible. If possible, partner with a non profit organization such as the Transplant Fund that can receive designated funds for the individual. Then donations can be designated as tax deductible by those who make donations.

3. Understand what motivates donors

Friends, family, co-workers and extended acquaintances may be willing to give out of pocket just because they care about the person and not be as concerned about tax benefits.

Many people will want to make sure that all of their donation goes directly to help the person in need. Donation request letters are especially good for this reason.

Also realize that fundraising may not be appropriate in every situation. Medical expenses must be quite extensive to warrant fundraising. For example, asking for help when a child gets a cast for a broken arm will not likely motivate people to donate because the need is not as great.

4. Appeal to Individuals Not Businesses

Fundraising events such spaghetti dinners can also be a good way to fundraise. As with all fundraising events it is important to get just about every thing donated, and even more so when fundraising for individuals - food, location, decorations, and prizes.

When seeking donations for an event appeal to individuals rather than directly to businesses. Corporations are usually concerned with making sure their donation is going to an organization that has government oversight, as well as a group that has the tax deductible donation benefits.

Instead survey your extended circle of contacts for donations of supplies and prizes. People will be willing donate items that they purchase themselves. They may be able to get donations from their place of business since they have influence with their employers that outsiders do not have.


5. Make it easy for people to donate

Finally, make it as easy for people to donate. Offer as many ways as possible for people to help the family that is in need of money for their medical expenses. Explain how donations can be made and include contact information on all materials.

  • Set up a separate bank account just for donations and discuss with the bank the option of donations being made at the bank lobby location
  • In letter appeals give the name, address of the bank in case people want to make donations directly at the bank
  • In letter requests include a pre-addressed envelope and a reply card for those who would like to donate by mail
  • Fundraising events offer multiple opportunities for people to donate anonymously such as donation boxes, raffles, and opportunities to "round up" ticket purchases.


Your Support is Greatly Appreciated!

Three Ways to Help:

1. Make a deposit to the bank account set up especially to help defray medical costs. Go to National Bank, 1500 Travis Street, Anytown USA and let them know that you would like to make a deposit to the account of Jane Smith.

2. Mail your donation with check made out to Jane Smith to 7859 Oak Strett, Anytown USA

3. Attend our spaghetti dinner event on January 24, 2006. Tickets are $7 for adults and $3 for children 12 and under. Besides the dinner there will also be raffles, games and other fun activities for the whole family. If you have any questions about the fundraising efforts to help Jane Smith, please contact her friend Sally Johnson at 210-555-1234.


"Have a Heart" Event Helps Transplant Patients

Jennifer Shih had always dreamed of becoming a doctor, specifically a pediatrician. After years of rigorous study and preparation she was thrilled to land a prestigious pediatric cardiology fellowship in Cincinnati. In an ironic turn of events, just a few months into her fellowship, Jennifer experienced life threatening heart problems herself.

Jennifer's heart condition, caused by an extremely rare disease called Giant Cell Myocarditis came on very suddenly. The only hope was a heart transplant and she was placed at the highest priority level. Miraculously a donor match was found and in less than two weeks from her diagnosis she received a new heart.

After her transplant on September 12th, 2004, Jennifer realized that her journey was far from over. While transplantation gives a new lease on life, the risk of rejection is high and lifelong continued treatment is necessary. In fact Jennifer was hospitalized twice after the transplant. Now after a year and a half of treatment, Jennifer's prognosis is good. However because of her low immune system can no longer pursue her medical career as originally planned.

When I spoke with Jennifer one thing was certainly clear - her excitement about life is strong and she is hopeful for her future. She's a positive young woman who's now helping others who are in need of organ transplants.

Have a Heart Benefit

When Jennifer's friends heard about her desperate need of a transplant, they decided to do something to help. Because of the sudden nature of Jennifer's illness the fundraiser had to be put together pretty quickly. That's when the Have a Heart Benefit was born.

Their circle of friends liked to go to clubs and concerts so they decided that a benefit concert would be a great idea. They advertised the event through flyers, email and calling everyone they knew.

On the night of the concert attendees purchased wristbands at the door as their entry tickets. Many people added extra donations above the cover charge too. A silent auction was also held to raise more money. By the end of the night about $17,000 had been raised to help Jennifer!

In 2005 another Have a Heart benefit was planned, this time to benefit other organ transplant patients and Hurricane Katrina victims. This time they exceeded their expectations, raising even more money with the event and silent auction.

Have a Heart Benefit 2005 organizers Kerri Golding, Jennifer Shih and Michelle Gianini

Partnering with a Non Profit Organization

The National Transplant Assistance Fund (NTAF) helped administer the funds raised and provide a tax deductive contribution option for donors. The NTAF is a registered charity that helps families and communities to raise money to cover uninsured medical expenses related to transplantation and catastrophic injury.

Jennifer recommends partnering with an existing non profit organization if at all possible. This provides a measure of accountability, trust and of course the tax deductive benefit for people who donate.

Lifelong Financial Impact

One of the impacts of transplantation that the general public may not be aware of is the high cost, not only of the surgery itself, but of the continued care required for transplant patients. After surgery patients must take immunosuppressant drugs for the rest of their life. These medications can run thousands of dollars each month.

Jennifer is currently on disability, which barely covers her monthly medical expenses. Though she is now financially stable and hopes to return to work at some time in the future, she knows that many transplant survivors are not so lucky.

Jennifer hopes to continue the Have a Heart benefit to help other people in need of financial assistance because of transplantation and other major medical illnesses.


Links to Other Articles About Fundraising for Individuals

Here are some other success stories where people have done fundraisers to help an individual:

Spaghetti Dinner Fundraiser for a Special Little Girl

March for Markley 2 Mile Run/Walk


Poll: Fundraising Catalogs

Last month I received a question about catalog fundraisers and other pre-sale programs. Here's the results of the survey...

As you can see over half of those who responded said that they collect money when the order is taken.

Hi Sandra,

My company has never done catalog fundraising but I know of people that have. Most times they need it prior to the order coming in. So it may not be actually due at the time you place the order but a few days prior to the order coming in. I am sure there are possibly others that work differently.


Yes it may depend on the requirements of the company that you're working with when payments from customers are taken and payment to the company needs to be received. Thanks for your comments Pam!

Find out more about catalog fundraisers

To Your Continued Fundraising Success,

Sandra Sims
Editor & Publisher
Step By Step Fundraising

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