Fundraising Tips from a Reluctant Fundraiser

I have never enjoyed fundraising. When I was in school, I was the kid who always refused to go door-to-door with various items that I was supposed to sell for certain clubs and groups. However, this all changed when I became a lung cancer patient. Since government funding is not too generous for lung cancer, I quickly realized the importance of fundraising for my own future and the future of others who will be diagnosed with lung cancer.

I’d like to share a few of the fundraising tips that have worked for me during the almost five years since my diagnosis. I’m definitely not an expert on fundraising, but through trial and error, I have managed to raise a good amount of money even though my friends and family are not rich or extremely well-connected!

Tip #1: Share your story

Share your own lung cancer story. People will be a lot more willing to help you fundraise if they understand how you are personally affected. Don’t feel that everyone already knows your story — people are busy with their own lives and frequently don’t pay attention or remember things correctly. Make sure those you approach understanding how much fundraising for lung cancer means to you and why.

Tip #2: Build a team

Tie your fundraising efforts to an activity that people can sign up to do WITH you. I’ve found that people are more likely to donate money if they feel that they are part of the process in some way. You can invite your friends and family to a restaurant or a store on a particular day and ask the business to donate a percentage of their sales towards your fundraising efforts. Many local businesses are happy to do this because you will bring them new customers. Alternatively, you can sign up to have a team for a lung cancer awareness walk and invite friends and family to walk with you or sponsor the team.

Tip #3: Start early

Start fundraising early. If you plan an event or walk, send out “save the date” information at least 3 months prior to the date. Then, keep reminding people regularly, increasing in frequency as you get closer to your event. I have found that even well-meaning friends and family frequently need several reminders before they either write down an event on their calendars or get around to donating money. Think about how often you might say to yourself that you will get to something later; well, it tends to be the same for everyone!

Tip #4: Diversify your approach

Use a variety of methods to ask people for donations. Different people might respond better to different approaches. Some you might want to ask personally, especially if they are close friends or family. Email and/or texts might work better for others. Make sure to attach links to event info or to a donation page, if applicable, each and every time you contact people in order to make it easier for them. If you ask someone personally, you should find out what form of electronic communication they prefer and make sure to follow-up your conversation using that method.

Tip #5: Go social

Don’t forget about the power of social media. Post information about your event and donation links on Facebook, Twitter and any other social media that you use. You never know what long-lost friend or family member might be out there and be touched by your story. I’ve reconnected with friends from many years ago and learned that they have a personal connection to lung cancer now. If you have a fundraising goal, post frequent updates of your progress towards that goal.

Tip #6: Add some excitement

Start a contest or raffle off a prize to get people more excited about your event or walk. If you’re inviting people to a restaurant or store, see if you can get donations of a few items that you can raffle off to everyone who attends the event. If you’re looking for sign-ups or donations for a walk, you can create a contest and enter everyone who signs up during a particular time period into a raffle. Use social media to promote these contests or raffles. I usually wait unless a couple of weeks before the event to do this in order to motivate people to participate last minute.

Tip #7: Show your appreciation

After the event, make sure you thank all participants so that they know you appreciated their support! Let everyone know how much money you raised and how many people participated. Share any pictures you take at the event on social media as well so those who didn’t participate can see how fun it could be to join you next time you fundraise!

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