6 Questions to Ask Before Starting an Online Fundraiser for Another Person
It’s impossible to scroll through your news or social media feed without seeing a heartbreaking story of someone who wouldn’t benefit from a little extra help. From the still struggling hurricane victims in Puerto Rico and Texas to the families suffering from the Flint water scandal, there are always countless people in our world who desperately need financial assistance to overcome an unexpected crisis.
With the rise in online crowdfunding popularity, it’s never been easier to lend a virtual hand to strangers, but as more and more people start online campaigns for others, this phenomenon raises ethical questions we need to first consider. While these stories tug at our heartstrings and compel us to be good Samaritans, it’s worth slowing down to consider the emotional, financial and social implications of a public funding raising campaign. Before rushing out to start a fundraising campaign for a stranger, neighbor or even your friend, first consider the following six questions.
- Does this person want a campaign?
While your first instinct may be to assume that everyone who’s in a crisis wants help, that may not always be the case. Not everyone is comfortable sharing the private details of their life, even when those details may compel others to help.
Social media may give the impression that everyone is comfortable sharing their life story, but there are many reasons a person may not want to reveal their personal struggles with the world. They may be embarrassed asking for money, uncomfortable with the spotlight or don’t wish to share their problems as it may have personal, social or professional implications.
Rather, get in touch with that person and ask permission to start a campaign in their name. If they say no, respect their wishes. If they say yes, you can work with them to gather the relevant and necessary information and photos to create a successful campaign.
- Am I the right person to run the campaign?
Just because you are emotionally moved by the story and no one else has initiated a fundraiser doesn’t mean you are always the best person to tell and run a fundraising campaign for another person. It may be enough that you’ve sparked the idea with that person’s family, friend or co-worker who may better understand the situation. Don’t take it personally if the intended recipient refuses your request but then allows another person to run a fundraising campaign. Remember—it’s not about you.
- Am I telling the right story?
A person’s circumstances are only one part of a larger narrative, and your ideas for telling a person’s story may differ from what or how they want to share their story. While you may be the one to gather the details and actually write the campaign, it’s critical you share everything with the recipient and gain their approval before publishing. This way, you don’t run the risk of giving out private or sensitive information or portraying your recipient in an unfavorable light.
- Am I setting realistic goals?
Your first instinct may be to raise as much money as possible, but that would be a mistake. Donors will be more likely to donate to a cause they trust, and one element of building that trust is asking for a reasonable amount that aligns with the need. Unfortunately, a few bad apples have made people more wary of fake campaigns, and any campaign that hints at greed will turn off potential donors.
Work with your recipient to determine the actual amount of funding needed, and set an achievable goal. If the campaign does well and people respond favorably, donors will still continue to donate even when the goal is met, and you can decide on what to do with those funds at that point. Some campaigns may even warrant additional funding as circumstances change, as they often do with a medical crisis, and you can modify new goals as they come up.
- Do I have the time and energy to invest in the campaign?
Even the most organized and ambitious of us have a couple unfinished projects in our past; don’t let a fundraising campaign be one of them. While crowdfunding has never been easier, it’s not as easy as putting up a couple photos and then waiting for the funds to roll in. Successful campaigns require some work, and research has shown that the most successful ones have a 30-day lifecycle. You’ll need to monitor activity, post frequently on social media, update donors, respond to questions and modify the campaign if it’s not performing as well as expected.
One aspect many people don’t consider is the emotional fallout of an unsuccessful campaign. While not every campaign meets its goals, an already fragile recipient may feel rejected, unworthy or even more depressed if their campaign doesn’t elicit a lot of donations like the viral ones they’ve seen in the news. If you start a campaign, make sure you’re willing to put in the effort to see it through to completion.
6. Do I have a plan in place if the campaign receives extra funding?
While it’s a good problem to have, many campaigns exceed their initial goals. If you find yourself in that favorable position, it’s important that you and the recipient have not only discussed how those funds will be allocated but also that you communicate that plan with your donors at the onset of the campaign.
You can clarify that all additional funds will be used by the recipient, you can donate the extra funds to a similar campaign or trust, or you can give the overflow of funding to a nonprofit that aligns with the needs of your recipient. For example, if you’re raising money for a child’s cancer treatments, you could give the additional funds to a children’s hospital in your recipient’s name. Whatever the decision, explaining that action on your fundraising page will create a stronger trust with your potential donors.
Using an online crowdfunder like WonderWe is a simple yet powerful tool that can literally change someone’s life, and you’re heart and head are in the right place. By taking a couple extra minutes to reach out to your recipient, you can ensure that you’re building and launching a successful campaign—one that will make a lasting impact.