Medical bills, adoption expenses and business startup costs are
just a few big-ticket items for which you may consider racking up
huge credit debt. But before you whip out the plastic, you may want
to consider using creative fundraising techniques to convince
family, friends and even strangers to help defray your costs.
People often think of fundraising as something that charities
do, but consumers can apply the same principles to their personal
causes, says Marc A. Pitman, a fundraising expert and author of
"Ask Without Fear: A Simple Guide to Connecting Donors With What
Matters to Them Most." "People are much more generous than we know,
but they need to be asked clearly and respectfully," says Pitman.
Whether you're seeking to fund medical expenses, a movie project or
a trip abroad, here's how to get others to foot some of the
1. Tell potential donors a story.
Don't expect people to automatically understand why your cause is
important. "People aren't driven by numbers and statistics; they're
driven by personal stories," Pitman says. So if you're raising
money to send your mom on a retirement cruise, describe how this is
the first time she's taken time for herself in 20 years. Or if
you're raising money for a loved one to attend college, explain how
the student has dreamed of becoming a veterinarian since his first
pet became ill. However, be positive when telling your story since
whining about how tough things are or trying to guilt people into
helping could turn them off, Pitman adds.
2. Get loved ones involved.
When Shanda Hill, a filmmaking student in San Francisco, needed to
raise $2,000 to travel to Malawi to be part of a documentary film
team, she called her closest friends and family members and asked
them to post a link to a donation Web site on their Facebook pages.
Her mother called friends and relatives and also asked them to
donate. After 30 days, Hill was able to shave nearly $500 off of
her costs, with some of the money coming from people she didn't
personally know. Not only can you reach more people by asking
others to share your plight, but you show potential donors that
others have already backed your cause.
3. Look beyond yourself.
One way to encourage people to give is to show how your personal
plight is part of a larger issue. "If you're trying to get help
with medical care, you could talk about how this disease is
impacting kids all over the world," Pitman says. Not only might
people recognize that they, too, could find themselves in this
situation, but they may feel more moved to help you if they feel
that their contribution is making a difference in society at
4. Make the donor the hero.
People are more likely to give if they feel like they're doing a
good deed, so you want to focus your request more on how they can
help rather than on what you'll be doing with the money, Pitman
says. For example, if you're raising money to go on a humanitarian
mission in a third world country, you don't want to talk about how
much good you'll do. Rather, you want to let potential donors know
that by donating funds, they're helping people in that Third World
5. Cast a wide net.
Everyone isn't going to be willing or able to give. In fact, if you
ask 100 people and get one donation, you're doing pretty good,
Pitman says. To raise your odds of getting a "yes," ask people more
than once. It also helps to use multiple ways to reach people since
some are more responsive to phone while others might do better
hearing the message via email or social media, Pitman says. Also,
start early. While Hill raised part of the $2,000 she needed in a
month, "if I had started earlier I think I would have raised more,"
6. Make payment convenient.
The more ways you can accept funds the better, so letting people
pay by cash, check, credit card or Paypal will ensure that people
can easily donate. Online fundraising sites such as GoFundMe.com,
GiveForward.com and Kickstarter.com provide even more options for
potential donors. "Traditional fundraising campaigns -- whether
it's a bake sale, car wash or direct mailers -- require a lot
of physical overhead and effort," says Brad Damphousse, chief
executive officer of GoFundMe.com, which has helped people raise
money for such things as medical bills, educational expenses and
birthday celebrations. Not only do online fundraising campaigns
make it easy for people to contribute with credit or debit cards,
but the campaigns can potentially go 'viral,' spreading quickly via
email and social media and giving users the ability to reach more
people than traditional fundraising methods, Damphousse adds.
7. Look beyond financial donations.
While some will write a check, others might be able to help in
other ways. For example, people might be willing to donate old
furniture or clothing that you can sell at a garage sale, says
Julie Gumm, author of "Adopt Without Debt," a book that provides
ideas for raising money for private adoptions, which can easily
cost between $20,000 and $30,000, Gumm says. Another fundraising
success story Gumm saw when researching her book was a family who
signed up with Amazon.com's affiliate program, which meant they
received a small percentage of sales they referred to Amazon.com
through a personalized Web site link. The family asked all of their
friends and family members to use the link when they did their
holiday shopping and ended up raising more than $1,000, Gumm
Too many times, people go into credit card debt to fund their
desires because it's easy and convenient. However, what's not so
easy is the aftermath of having to pay off debt laden with
interest. Imagine not incurring any debt to achieve your goal --
with a little creativity and persistence, it would make enjoying
your achievement that much more.
High-tech ways to rent out your stuff, More take social lending
route to consolidate debt, Managing the high costs of adoption and