medical costsWhen a friend or loved one gets sick and is facing huge medical bills, the quickest and easiest way to raise money for them is through an online fundraising website.

Sites like GiveForward, Fundbunch and GoFundMe allow individuals to create customized pages where friends and family from across the world can contribute to help a loved one pay for their medical bills and out-of-pocket expenses associated with getting sick.

When combined with the viral power of social media tools like Facebook, these types of fundraising pages can raise upwards of $10,000, $20,000, or even $80,000 in a matter of weeks. Before getting started, however with any of these websites, it’s critically important to come up with an organized fundraising plan.

Through my work at GiveForward, I’ve seen many people raise funds online and have gathered some ideas about what works and what doesn’t. Since many people raising money for their loved one’s medical expenses are fundraising for the first time, I’ve outlined a step-by-step plan that will make it super-easy for you to reach your goal. If you are about to start a fundraising page for a friend or loved one, please take the next 20 minutes to read through the plan — I promise, it will make a HUGE difference in the overall success of your fundraiser.

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

If you are thinking of raising money for a loved one, before you get started ask a few of your mutual friends if they would be want to help in the efforts to spread the word. 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 or team captain, you will, of course, still 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 Online Fundraiser With a Donation From Yourself

If you can afford to do so, the first thing you are going to want to do is set the tone for your fundraiser by donating yourself. 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 bar high 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. Getting off to a good start is the single greatest thing you can do to make sure you reach your goal.

The reason this is important is 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, rinse and repeat by reaching out to your next closest group of friends (e.g. 5-10 college friends or high school friends). 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.

The fundraising team for Nicole Hobson, who needed funds for medical costs related to breast cancer treatment, got big donations from their inner circle first. By the time extended friends and family 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 online fundraisers that raise $10,000+ do so because of Facebook. This is probably the second most important tip we can give you. Facebook is an amazing tool and just helps spread the word more quickly.

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 have them 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 or simply include news about what is going on in their life. You can use these updates as an opportunity to ask for contributions by including a link to your online fundraising page in of all the messages.

Here is an example of Facebook group that worked really well for a fundraisier raising money for a child 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!!)

Step 6. Finish Your Fundraiser with a Bang.

To help maximize the amount of money you raise for your cause, you’ll want to make sure you reach out to all your procrastinating amigos and family members in the final days before your fundraiser ends. Here’s what we suggest you do to finish your fundraiser with a surge of donations:

(1) Three to four days before your fundraiser ends, send a mass email or a Facebook message to all your contacts, encouraging them to make one last push before the deadline.

(2) To spice it up a bit, if your fundraiser is ending on January 13, ask them to donate $13 on that day or if it is ending on February 5th, ask for $5 on the 5th. People will usually give more than the amount you ask for, so don’t worry if your fundraiser ends on the 2nd or 3rd of the month. If you want, however, you can ask for $20 instead of $2 or $30 instead of $3, or alternatively ask for donations ending in the number (e.g. $2, $12, $22, $52, $102)

(3) Lastly, make sure to send a friendly reminder email on the morning of the last day to remind them to donate.

Final thoughts

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 online fundraising page is send out a mass email to all their friends and family. I 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 this step-by-step plan and I promise that you will raise WAY more money.

Also see Raising Money for Individuals with Health Conditions for offline fundraising ideas.

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Posted on 26 May 2010

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12 Comments For This Post

  1. Melvin says:

    Dear friend, great post and thank you for these great tips. I’m not sure if you know but there’s a company out of Dallas that has a great idea for fundraising. Check out . You can launch a fundraiser for your organization, non-profit, church, etc. with a unique fundraiser idea. Good luck.

  2. Cynthia Richardson-El Habti says:

    I have taken your advice and have started a fundraiser at It has been a slow start but I am following your advice. My family came under hardship when I had to have a spinal fusion in December now my daughter is having surgery in April. I will still need another surgery to stabilize my cervical spine. I am praying that this works. You can follow my fundraiser at

    Thank you for the advice.

  3. Fran says:

    Ethan – This is great to the point tips. Thanks so much for sharing. I am just thinking about doing a fundraiser for a good friend of mine.

  4. Charlotte says:

    I want to create a website called Fundraising Neofitos Iosif.
    Neofitos is a very sick friend and need urgent life threatning medical treatments abroad.
    Neofitos is a young Cypriot man who became very ill over the past few years. He is unable to work and need the funds for an operation and other medical treatments.
    I dont know where to start and need assistance with the setup of a website and how to publish his letter of plea and medical reports.
    Thank you in advance for your assistance.

  5. Ayeshia McDonald says:

    Hello, to who this may concern I was wondering how could I help my father his house burned down in Mississippi and he lost it all and has no nsurance..It was very devastating lost..So please email me ASAP to see iif I can be so help..Or you can call me at (402)813-2203…

  6. Kristina Campbell says:


    Your advice is amazing. We set up an online fundraiser for my friend’s daughter who is fighting cancer.

    We set an initial goal of 15K and we asked our inner circle to donate at least $100 and we had $3,000 in 24 hours. We hit our goal of 15K in 8 days through sharing on Facebook and getting articles in the paper. We had a few $500 donations and today just 14 days later we have raised 22K.

    We have been able to help our friends with costs associated with travel to Children’s Hospital, co-pays for medication and bills that have piled up in the 20 months they have been fighting this fight.

    Thank you so much. I think having the $100 mark set the precedent was the key to our success.

    Kristina Campbell

  7. Desiree Forsyth says:

    I have had 14 surgeries personally, my 3 children between them have had 10 and now my youngest son has been diagnosed with spinal fluid at the base of his brain, cyst inside his spinal canal. His spine is pulling so tightly it is literally pulling his brain stem down into the very base of his skull. We are drowning in medical debt. Many bills are in collections, we owe roughly $30,000-$45,000.We are in desperate need of some kind of help. We are a hard working middle class family so we fall below the line to qualify for any state assistance. We struggle each week putting food on the table and each month keeping our power on. We are honest people who have had many serious surgeries in the past and more to come in the near future, that we can’t seem to pay on time or off. We’re desperate. Sincerely, Desiree Forsyth

  8. Webdy says:

    How do you avoid being taxed if the funds go to your account in the name of your friend?

  9. saurabh sunil shrivastava says:

    Please Help!!!!! I urge to give help to my 3 Month old son fighting for his life against blood cancer.
    Your little help may save my little son life. Please……
    My 3 Month old son, Rohan, was living a perfectly normal life until recently when he suffered from repeating fever episodes. Doctors initially suggested that the blood formation is not as normal in his body and more focus is required on the diet.
    But within few days, it appeared that his condition was serious than initially thought.
    Doctors advised to take him to a hospital in Delhi, India where he was diagnosed as suffering from type of blood cancer.
    i then took the little child to AIIMS hospital in Delhi where they were told that there is a waiting of six days before the child can be seen or admitted.
    The condition of the child deteriorated by the passing time and he was admitted in the one of the reputed Cancer Hospital where he is now being treated by Dr. Kapoor – a very experienced doctor with specialisation in areas related to childhood cancer.
    Doctors are positive that Rohan will be fine after the full course of treatment and we hope and pray for the same.
    Me and my family is raising money for his treatment by all ways possible. They have sold their jewellery and living in a place close to the hospital. They are unable to raise the total amount on their own but are doing whatever possible to save their child.
    The estimated amount for treatment is around 20, 000,00 INR, which is $35,000 approx.
    The $3,000 raised here would pay for a fraction of his Chemotherapy treatments and hospital bills. Every little contribution on this page matters and wil.l go towards the treatment of my son Rohan.
    Any donation will be a great support and will help the little boy to fight this terrible disease and hopefully, he will have the much needed cure.
    Please spread the word on my e-mail id If you cannot contribute I would request you to please share this with more people using the link above so that more money can be raised.
    For more details please contact me or alternatively family, details are mentioned below:
    Child’s name: Rohan Kumar
    Father Name: Saurabh Sunil Shrivastava
    Living at Ghaziabad and working in a private limited company.
    If you can help then please send your help in the below account or paypal account.
    Paypal ID is :
    Transfer Details:
    Bank Name: Axis Bank
    Account Number: 912010063882850
    Account Holder name: Saurabh Sunil Shrivastava
    IFSC Code: UTIB0000022
    Swift Code: AXISINBB022
    Branch: B2-b3, Sector 16, Noida
    Thanks for you kind support.
    God Bless .
    Email ID:

  10. Diane says:

    Thank you for writing this. I’m attempting to create a Gofundme page to help with my own medical expenses ($15K) that I’m drowning in due to several back surgeries, implants, fusions & finally an infusion med. pump.
    I’ve done fundraising for others but never had to for myself. The little work I can do is limited ~ Can you provide any advice on how to run this when it’s for yourself?

  11. jS says:

    I have a metastatic breast cancer and want to fundraise with the assistance of a non=profit organisation. Can you direct me to non profit orgabnizations tha can help me so that I can pay for my possible surger and or treatment in USA. I am a canadian citizen
    Thanking you in adevance,


  12. Byrne Tiffany Ann says:

    I want to specially thank Rick Simpson for saving my friend’s life with his healing oil. some years back my friend Rose was diagonized with a deadly disease cancer of the lungs, we try all medication all to no avail, we also try to do the oil our selves but we were doing more harm than worse. until I saw a post on facebook on how the cannabis oil had cured a cancer patient, I quickly mailed this email:

    From that very moment we just have to give it a trier, instantly we got a reply from him asking us what the exact cancer problem that my friend Rose has, we explained every details of it to him and he told us, that his oil will heal my friend cancer problem only if we can order for it as soon as possible.
    He calculated the dosage for us to buy i think the dosage he calculated was 60grams of the oil which we ordered plus 30grams maintenance free and also with a body lotion and soap. He told us that if we order it online now by the next 48hours the medication will get to our door step through the delivery services, we decided to give it a try and behold when we did exactly 48hours of ordering the medication came to our door step through the delivery agent and deliver it to us. immediately we emailed Rick back that we have gotten the medication, and the usage instruction manual was also delivered to us. my friend Rose started the medication immediately just after a month of using Rick Simpson cannabis oil, Rose is now free from cancer problem, she is living a healthy life my utmost priority of sharing this short testimony is for those that are suffering from my kind of cancer diseases or if your friend or family members are suffering from this deadly disease, please don’t die in silence there is a cure for your cancer today don’t waste anytime further you have to email Rick Simpson directly and save your live and the lives of others


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