The crowd-sourcing website GoFundMe is increasingly becoming a website of last resort donations during medical catastrophes. Company CEO Tim Cadogan even acknowledges that a third of all fundraising transacted on the site goes toward medical expenses. And it is still not enough to meet the great (and growing) demand.
Earlier this year Forbes magazine reported that less than 12% of campaigns meet their goals, which is putting increasing pressure on families to create heart-breaking narratives to share with as many people as possible in the hopes that their loved one’s story will gain traction. Even patients with insurance find themselves staring down bills that outpace their plans. They need the money, and they need a story to go with it.
But the website was not conceived to carry that burden. GoFundMe was founded in 2010 as a platform to help people raise money by entrepreneurs who had an idea but needed capital. The site claims it raised more than 9 billion dollars by 2020, proving the concept works in some ways.
Yet somewhere along the way the site became more like a nonprofit than a VC firm; and dollars raised is going down as a result. According to Forbes, in the platform’s first three years, the median campaign goal was roughly $10,000 before dipping to $7,500 in 2019 and then dropping to $5,000 in 2020. Goals are dropping because donations are drying up.
GoFundMe says the drop points to a breakdown in U.S. healthcare coverage. No matter, though. The fact is simple: even a ‘Hail Mary’ might not be enough anymore.
How to write a GoFundMe for medical expenses
In setting up a campaign, the crowd-sourcing site shared things to avoid. First is lack of high-quality photos or videos. More importantly though, is an insufficient story — meaning that people respond better to stories that clearly describe the need and benefit with clear images to accompany them. Spelling and grammar mistakes are a huge fail, too. If you are making the effort to put your case out in the public eye and ask for money, take time to proof-read first. Another big miss, according to GoFundMe, is the absence of updates. People invest in other people, and following the journey provides more visibility and opportunity to keep donations coming in.
In contrast to campaign mistakes, there are plenty of resources offering tips to create a high-profile, successful donation profile. If you are trying to raise money, it stands to reason that you don’t want to spend money creating a good campaign. But one of the best tips is to rely on your support system. Call on the good writer you know, and organizer. Someone in the family who can be trusted to manage finances effectively with full transparency.
Another one of the most important things you can do is to master social networking. Much like political campaigns (even sales campaigns for that matter) the key to success lies in how many people you touch.
If your last resort is going grassroots, it pays to set realistic expectations along with financial goals.