Post updated 10/18/2020
It’s felt like an eternity since the planet shut down for business from the Coronavirus.
From having to practice social distancing and getting used to life without the outdoors to continually washing our hands and wearing masks and seeing loved ones and friends getting sick, the Coronavirus is something none of us expected.
Since then a lot has changed causing us to spend more time online, so much so that companies like Netflix have had to reduce their streaming quality to help.
Those of us with disabilities and our caregivers need more help than ever. Our medical bills haven’t stopped when we got furloughed and our care requirements didn’t get easier when we had to terminate our home health aides. This is the time to reach out and ask for help.
Which is why I’m going to show you how to set up a GoFundMe page just like mine below.
How to set up a GoFundMe page the right way
After the meteoric success of the GoFundMe page that my friends Patrick McCartney and his wife Laura Hickey ran, I received a flood of questions about setting up their own campaign. I asked them to share their secrets that made the campaign a success.
Contributed by Laura Hickey
I started a GoFundMe page for Jeremy when we realized his diagnosis. Based on my experience, here are some tips for anyone considering a crowdfunding campaign:
Let go of your reservations
It’s very easy to feel helpless when you or a loved one falls ill or faces unexpected hardship. It’s hard to admit and ask when we need help from others. Whether starting a campaign for yourself or on someone else’s behalf, when you’ve decided to ask for help, own it.
It’s hard to admit and ask when we need help from others.
There are many people in your life and the world that care about you and humanity at large. Dig deep, and be prepared as an advocate, cheerleader, and solicitor.
It can get overwhelming, and if you approach it with the right mindset from the beginning, parts of the process are a little easier to tackle.
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Research your options
Before we decided to set up the GoFundMe page we kicked around several ideas about how to raise money for Jeremy. There was a keen interest from coworkers to help, but no one was sure of the best course of action.
Ultimately we decided on crowdfunding for several reasons: ease of use, the option to donate using a credit card, the possibility of sharing across multiple social media platforms, and the immediate availability of funds.
GoFundMe is by no means the only option, so research alternatives, read the fine print and choose depending on your goals and reasons for starting a campaign.
GoFundMe is a well known and trusted platform, user-friendly and relatively low cost for medical campaigns, so we felt it was the best fit to get something off the ground quickly.
When you decide, make sure to download the platform’s app, if available.
Set a reasonable initial goal
Talk about needs with family and others involved, the minimum amount you are comfortable with and what you think is realistically achievable. Be as specific as possible in your request about what the money is going toward.
GoFundMe campaigns don’t expire and you can change the goal as needed. I promise that reaching the initial goal and increasing it is better for your psyche than starting out with a high amount that is never obtained.
Write as your life depends on it (Because it does)
Initially, your GoFundMe page campaign will be focused on your immediate network, so you may feel like your story is partially understood. Write it for those who don’t know you at all, and make it personal and compelling as possible.
Include details of your life before and after whatever prompted your campaign, and how donations will change your situation.
If you are starting the campaign for someone else, collaborate to get the important information they want to include. Take your time, make sure it is well written and proofread.
Keep in mind that those sharing your campaign are just as important as those donating, and any stranger you can get to do either is a bonus.
Trending campaigns being shared across multiple social media platforms are seen by many people you’ve never met, and you want them to want to help.
Hit the pavement
It would be wonderful if I could say that once you go live with your GoFundMe page campaign your work is done, and your goal will be met easily. The truth is many campaigns struggle to be fully funded.
When you launch, be ready to share across all of your social media accounts, utilize community Facebook groups, and direct message people to personally ask them to share.
Work your network, however big or small. If your campaign is for someone else, include them and family in the effort if you can. If at all possible, try to launch your GoFundMe page campaign around a public event (a party, benefit, service, etc.) and be ready to talk about it.
I hurried to get our campaign ready before my husband went to several days of company-wide meetings. While I was working on things behind the scenes, he was talking about the campaign to everyone at those meetings, over and over.
Old school face time is important, and the more people you can ask to talk about your situation the better. Take your campaign with you to work, church, school, clubs, and social gatherings.
I always asked people to share the campaign, even if I didn’t bring up donating directly.
Once people start donating and sharing, they will receive notifications of anything you post. Any additional information, changes in the situation, expressions of gratitude, or updates on your goal are important to those who are invested in your well being.
A bright spot in an otherwise hopeless feeling situation can make all the difference.
They want to hear from you, and it helps encourage more sharing and additional donations. If appropriate to the situation, you can add other people as administrators so they can post updates as well.
At first we knew Jeremy and his family were understandably overwhelmed, so we posted the initial updates but also added him so he could post when he could. As time progressed he was able to take the reins on updating and let everyone know about benefits and other events via the campaign.
Write a personal thank you note
GoFundMe sends a thank you form any time someone donates, but you have the option to send a personalized one. Take the opportunity to write a heartfelt thank you in your own words, and change it accordingly.
For example, when we updated the goal to help pay for a van for Jeremy, or a specific treatment, I included it in my thank you for anyone donating after that update. I changed my thank you around the holidays to wish donors well during the season.
The app makes it easy to keep track of who has donated, and who you’ve thanked, and you can set a template to do so with one click. When you are getting a lot of donations this can be time-consuming, but it is worth it.
I have made personal connections with people who have set up recurring donations, and have had people reach out to me with various ideas and desire to help.
A note of caution
I encountered scammers who would reach out through Facebook and Instagram claiming they could increase the traffic to the campaign for money.
No matter how desperate your situation is, do not fall victim to this.
Also, and especially if your campaign is trending, you may see comments on your campaign from bots promoting questionable medical advice, people trying to direct to their own campaigns, etc.
Use care and discretion to cull these from your comments if you wish. Ultimately I decided that if a comment wasn’t positivity directed to Jeremy and his family, I wasn’t keeping it.
Final thoughts from Laura Hickey
Starting the campaign for Jeremy was one of the greatest honors for us. It is overwhelming to see support from so many people, and restores some faith in the world.
As hard as it is to face tragedy or illness, I encourage you to turn outward and ask for help (monetary, social, spiritual) when you need it.
My family and I will be eternally grateful to Laura and Patrick. Their creativity and generosity will carry us through the fight of our lives and beyond.
Remember, we’re all in this craziness together, and separately at the same time. Like Laura said above, the hardest part is admitting you need help.
But don’t let the anxiety of the process stand in the way of telling your story and getting the help you need.
Have you created a GoFundMe page for yourself or someone else? Share the link in the comments below so we can see how you’re doing!