Published On: May 02, 2018
A Step-by-Step Guide to Writing a Powerful Donation Appeal for Your Medical Fundraiser
Asking for donations is a tough job.
While your friends and family will readily donate to you, especially if you are going through a medical illness, it is convincing a large number of acquaintances and strangers to contribute, which often poses a challenge. While fighting an illness and during medical emergencies, it’s difficult to have the presence of mind needed to make a good donor appeal.
We understand that. And, we’ve found a solution for you.
Given the rising costs of medical facilities today, most patients are left helpless, unable to afford the healthcare they need. While loans add additional burden and selling assets is often not possible or sufficient, medical crowdfunding allows patients to access a convenient and risk-free solution that helps them pay for their treatment. We, and many other online medical fundraising sites, have seen medical patients raise funds for medical expenses in a few weeks, days and sometimes even overnight!
[Read how Dheeraj funded his father’s surgery costs in 1 day!]
A donor appeal, the most important part of your fundraiser, is a well-crafted message from you to a vast audience of donors, asking them to contribute to your cause.
The first step is to identify various mediums through which you can reach your donors. Here are a few:
Your fundraiser page
Social Media - Facebook and Twitter
Personal Messaging - Whatsapp, Hike messenger, Facebook messenger etc.
Checklist for a perfect donor appeal!
Every Little Detail Of The Problem: When strangers on the internet want to donate to you, they want to know every little detail of your condition. Some questions you should be able to answer are:
How was the condition first diagnosed?
What signs did the patient show or what incident led to the diagnosis?
What treatment has the patient received so far and how much did it cost?
What treatment does the patient have left to receive and how much will it cost?
How urgent is this fundraiser (or when does the patient need to receive their treatment)?
The more the better. People believe what they see much faster than what they read or what they are told. Show them the person you are raising funds for. Happier pictures of the patient before the illness will help the donors imagine the impact they can have - making a person healthy again.
Hospital documents are crucial in helping prove the authenticity of your your fundraiser. Provide adequate reports.
Now you can get started on crafting your donor appeal!
Crafting a donor appeal for different platforms:
The Fundraiser Story
The most successful fundraisers (that manage to get contributions from the most number of strangers) all have one thing in common; a great story. The top two qualities of a striking fundraiser story are:
Sincerity: The best medical fundraiser story is clear, informative and sincere. While nonprofits, individuals with a personal/creative cause need to market themselves and convince their donors in different ways, a medical campaign is one that generally appeals to anybody simply because of its nature. This is why a medical campaigner should ideally be honest and transparent in their approach.
Accuracy: Make sure you get all your facts checked by a doctor before you describe the patient’s illness. We’ve noticed campaigners often make seemingly small, but crucial errors in their story. This can put off a potential donor, or make them mistrust your campaign.
Building the story up rather than just stating the facts is important to engage a reader.
Try not to begin your story directly with the diagnosis of the patient. Start with the incident that led to the diagnosis. Did the patient have an accident? Did they show a severe symptom at work or while having dinner? This was how Siddhi, the mother of a 4-year-old who was diagnosed with Leukemia began her fundraiser story:
“About six months ago, we noticed that Arya was falling sick with a cold very frequently When it happened a fifth time, we started to worry and decided to take her to the hospital. The doctor guessed that it may be typhoid or dengue. On observing her blood tests, the doctor only noted that her Haemoglobin level was mysteriously low, and said nothing more. He directed us to another doctor in KMC Hospital, Mangalore and sent her reports over.”
Don’t be afraid to let your emotions spill into the story.
In fact, it’s important to show emotion in your story to strike a chord with your readers. We read dozens of stories in a single week, and yet, a few stories that campaigners share stay with us months later, because they moved us so deeply. Your story can help you create a similar impact on your donors, and this also helps make it easier to talk about the financial aid you need. This is how Siddhi spoke about her daughter’s treatment:
“Now I watch helplessly as she struggles with severe fevers, nausea, and lethargy. Being a child who cannot understand the extent of the disease she battles, Arya is upset and confused with the symptoms. Her doctor stated that her treatment would last two years, consisting of chemotherapy and radiation. The medical bill comes up to Rs 10 lakhs. My parents, husband and I pooled in our savings but could not collect more than Rs 5 lakhs.”
After you’ve made the patient’s diagnosis clear in the first part of the fundraiser story, now you’ll need to talk about why you need the help with funds.
It’s important to show your donors that you’ve tried collecting the funds yourself, and cannot afford the full amount without their help.
“I am yet to fully digest the shocking diagnosis. I asked for a year’s leave at my company and was granted an unpaid leave and an apology. My husband has left his job as well, to take care of Arya. We now sustain ourselves on my parents’ earnings.”
This part of your story will help you lead up to your call to action, where you will finally spur your readers into action by asking them to make a donation.
Never be vague about asking for a contribution.
Your readers won’t know what they need to do unless you directly say it. Here’s a nice way to pen a call to action:
“You are our only chance at saving our little Arya. We are grateful to every kind donor that chooses to contribute to her recovery. Please share our story with your family and friends across social media like Facebook, Whatsapp, and Twitter. Thank you.”
Donation appeal on email:
Writing an email is a great way to appeal to colleagues, distant connections or to broadcast your story to college groups, family groups and other departments at your workplace.
The email is shorter than the fundraiser, and that much more attractive.
Emails are personalized yet, make sure you put a clear subject line.
For example, a title like “My baby girl may not live to see her first birthday…” is much more striking and provokes concern instantly in a reader, rather than “Help my child fight blood cancer.”
Your email will read similar to the fundraiser story, but it should ideally sound more like a personal conversation between you and the reader. For example, Siddhi could begin by talking about her child’s hobbies, her playful demeanor, her naughty nature and how it broke her heart to see her child’s spirit fade over time as the disease took a toll on her. She could then briefly talk about the diagnosis, include a personalized CTA and a link to the fundraiser.
Here’s a sample letter requesting donation for medical expenses:
“We were met by an oncologist who broke the news that turned our lives upside down: Arya, my little four-year-old, is fighting Leukemia. Her doctor stated that her treatment would last two years, consisting of chemotherapy and radiation. The medical bill comes up to Rs 10 lakhs. My parents, husband and I pooled in our savings but could not collect more than Rs 5 lakhs. I was filled with dread; were we approaching a dead end?
Then Arya’s doctor told us about medical crowdfunding. We saw how well other fundraisers on the website were doing and hope like never before filled us. Now we cling onto this, the one hope we have at saving our little daughter: you.
Everyday, I watch helplessly as she struggles with severe fevers, nausea, and lethargy. Being a child who cannot understand the extent of the disease she battles, Arya is upset and confused with the symptoms. And now, we have no choice but to turn to you with the heavy request of saving our daughter’s life.
Contribute towards our Arya’s recovery here: <link> and share her story with your family and friends. Every donation counts. We’re eager to see our little girl happy and healthy again.”
We realize it is difficult for you to sit down and take the time to pen down stories and emails while you have dozens of other pressing tasks and errands to chase. But we want you to remember it is not only okay, but absolutely necessary, to ask for help so you can lighten your burden.
We can help you write a stellar email and send it to more donors! (Ask your campaign manager!)
Crafting a donation appeal for Social Media
Short is attractive!
On a social media post, whether that’s Twitter, Facebook or even Instagram, focus on writing fewer but more powerful and eye-catching words. You are one scroll away from losing a donor, so make sure you’re using good quality images as well.
“My four-year-old daughter is unable to go to school, play with her toys, or do any of the things other four-year-olds do. When we found her constantly falling ill with fevers and colds, we took her to the doctor. Scans and tests revealed the truth: our little Arya battles Leukemia. We need to collect Rs 10 lakhs for her chemotherapy by next month, and you can help us reach this goal.”
Over time, this first appeal should be followed by updates on progress, both of Arya’s health and of the fundraiser. It’s important to keep your audience engaged in your story, so they naturally spread the word and help you widen your reach.
Reaching out to the donor personally
While broadcasting your message is great, nothing works better than a personal message. BizFluent agrees with us. The way you write a message appeal depends on the relationship between you and the reader. You can choose to send these messages over Whatsapp, Facebook Messenger or SMS.
When you’re approaching colleagues and distant connections, it’s best to take on a slightly formal tone.
Begin with a pleasant greeting, like so: “Dear <name> I hope you’re doing well.” followed by a buffer, depending on when you last spoke; “I realize it has been a while since we connected, but I request you to spare a minute to read my story.”
Since this isn’t aimed at strangers, but people you’ve interacted with, you don’t have to try as much to help them make an emotional connect. You can dive straight into the story.
I hope you’re doing well. I realize it has been a while since we connected, but I request you to spare a minute to read my story.
Last month, our little daughter was diagnosed with Leukemia. At the age of four, she struggles with a condition we can barely imagine facing as adults. After various tests, scans and panic-ridden waiting, the doctor stated that she would need 12 cycles of chemotherapy, starting next week, to be able to recover and go back to a healthy, happy life. This will cost us Rs 10 lakhs, an amount we can in no way collect over such a short period of time. We have no one to turn to besides our friends, family and well-wishers, like you.
We request you to join our effort to save our child, and contribute towards her recovery: <insert link to fundraiser>. Thank you.
Be informal to your friends, family, neighbors!
“Hi, <name>. Hope you’ve been well. Unfortunately, this message isn’t a happy one. Last month, my daughter Arya was diagnosed with Leukemia. After various tests, scans and panic-ridden waiting, the doctor stated that she would need 12 cycles of chemotherapy, starting next week. Her treatment will cost us Rs 10 lakhs, an amount we can in no way collect over such a short period of time.
We hope you will stand by us in this difficult time and make a contribution towards this effort here: <link> and spread the word to more people. Thank you for your help.”
Last words: Be honest and sincere in your appeals. Understand the medium and the audience well before you make the appeal and watch how generosity saves you!
All the best!