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Medical Crowdfunding: Tips From Successful Campaigns

Amelia from Australia was badly burned in an accident in 2011 at age five. The following year, after many skin graphs, an operation on her trachea failed and a second one would cost more than $90,000.

Thanks to 632 contributions through FundRazr, Amelia’s family raised $95,145 last summer and Amelia was able to travel to Switzerland for her procedure.

Healthcare is expensive, plain and simple. Medical costs are the leading reason for personal bankruptcy in the U.S., but getting a little help can keep people from having to choose between health and financial ruin.

Sites like FundRazr help patients raise money for major medical procedures when insurance falls short. From each campaign, FundRazr collects a 5 percent fee, plus a “payment provider” fee of 2.9 percent and 30 cents per transaction.

Last week, Healthline teamed up with FundRazr and other social media experts in a Twitter chat to explain how crowdfunding for medical procedures works, as well as how to make a crowdfunding campaign successful.

In 2013, crowdfunding raised $6 billion globally, according to Bret Conkin, vice president of marketing for FundRazr. And medical crowdfunding is the most popular topic on FundRazr, followed by animals and non-profit organizations.

“Crowdfunding is a way to reach out to an extended community for online donations for a cause. Crowdfunding is popular for medical expenses because of the story and emotion behind the campaign,” FundRazr tweeted. “Seeing the face of someone you can help, or a medical issue you can relate to, encourages you to donate.”

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Who Donates to Crowdfunded Medical Campaigns?

Katie Stiles, a YouTuber with more than 65,000 subscribers, used FundRazr to raise nearly $9,000 from 70 donors to help a friend’s son after he was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia at age 11. He underwent a bone marrow transplant in November.

Stiles used her YouTube expertise to create a video to show the true impact of donations. Spreading the message through social media sites like Twitter and Facebook also helped get the word out.

She said that people act from the heart, not the head when deciding to fund a cause. Unlike other forms of giving, crowdfunding is immediate.

“It may be karma for some people to give. They feel fortunate for their health and want to give back,” Stiles tweeted. “It is people who know the patient and strangers. It creates a community of people who care about a shared cause.”

To make for a more successful campaign, FundRazr suggests planning to raise 20 percent of your money from people you know, which will help legitimize the cause for others looking to donate.

See More People Using FundRazr for Their Medical Expenses

Tips for a Successful FundRazr Campaign

For those looking to raise funds for a medical procedure, FundRazr and Stiles offer the following suggestions:

  • Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
  • Tell people your story.
  • Be transparent: tell people exactly where their donations will go.
  • Provide pictures and video: video campaigns, according to FundRazr, raise twice as much as campaigns without them. 
  • Spread your message through social media: start with your family and closest friends and work outward from there.
  • Reach out to traditional media: contact your local newspaper or television station, as well as bloggers who cover topics similar to your campaign.
  • Update donors to show them that their money has made an impact.
  • Interact with your donors: say thanks for all donations.
  • Add offline donations to your campaign: asking for donations face-to-face can show that you're committed to reaching your goal.
  • Be good on your word: fulfill the perks for your campaign, if you promised any, when you meet your goal.

For more tips, see FundRazr’s guide to a successful campaign.

The Science of Successful Crowdfunding

Researchers at Georgia Tech recently examined 45,000 campaigns on the crowdfunding site Kickstarter by performing a statistical analysis to see how campaigns that were successfully funded differed from those that were not. They showed that successful online campaigns include elements of:

  • Reciprocity: people who offered additional rewards to their donors tended to be more successful.
  • Scarcity: showing that a condition or treatment is rare or unique drives people to donate.
  • Social Proof: talking about what others have given with phrases like “has pledged” helps those who depend on others for social cues know how to act.
  • Social Identity: helping people be part of a specific social group—such as those who've helped save a child—can make campaigns more successful.
  • Liking: people are more likely to support people or products that appeal to them, plain and simple.
  • Authority: providing authoritative, expert opinions on the health issues you present make people more comfortable with offering a donation.

Disclosure: Healthline, Inc. receives 5 percent of all money raised through FundRazr campaigns that appear on Healthline.com.

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