Crowdfunding is the act of raising funds from a crowd. It works on the premise that collecting relatively small amounts from lots of people is easier than getting very large investments from very few.
Crowdfunding has typically been used by artists and start-ups to get funding for projects and business ventures. However, everyday people also are using crowdfunding to raise money, but for personal needs – like medical treatment, IVF, and adoption.
You’ve likely participated in crowdfunding in the past, but just not thought of it that way. If you’ve ever participated in a fundraising bake sale, you’ve crowdfunded. The cookies are like the “perks” sometimes offered by some crowdfunding campaigns. If you’ve ever dropped a few coins into a donation tin, you’ve participated in crowdfunding.
Crowdfunding for IVF or adoption is not for everyone, and it takes planning and work to have a successful campaign. But if it’s something you’d like to consider, read on.
Why Would People Want to Fund My Family Building?
If you’re picturing crowdfunding as tons of strangers who don’t know you donating all the money you need for IVF, forget that. I mean, yes, you may pick up a few donors who you don’t know at all. But the primary donations will come from friends and family, and a little more from your friends’ and family’s social connections.
By friends, this may mean your good pal down the street, a coworker, or an online buddy who you’ve never met but talk to everyday on Twitter or Facebook. If you have a very active blog, your most dedicated readers may be willing to contribute.
By family, this means your parents and siblings, but also your aunts and uncles, your cousins, your second cousins, and maybe even the “cousins” your mom swears are cousins but you haven’t figured out exactly how. All that matters is they see you as a “cousin” and you have some interaction in real life or online.
Luckily for all of us, people generally enjoy helping others. The aunt whose primary connection with you now is via liking each others' Facebook statuses may be very happy to make a small donation to your IVF fund. You won’t know until you ask.
Of course, not everyone who has a connection to you will give, or give the same amounts.
Beside the primary donors – people who have a direct connection with you – there will hopefully be secondary donors. These are people who know the people you know. Your mom’s knitting group buddies, for example.
And beyond these connections will be the people who come across your crowdfunding page via your campaigning and social sharing. This will typically make up the smallest portion of your fundraising.
Is Crowdfunding for You?
As I mentioned above, crowdfunding for infertility isn’t for everyone. It may not be for you if...
- You're not comfortable with everyone -- and I mean everyone -- knowing about your infertility struggles. All your friends, family members, and coworkers will know (and probably will want to talk to you about it.)
- You or your partner are uncomfortable with asking people you know (and people you don't) for money.
- You lack enough connections to raise the funds you need.
Indiegogo’s site suggests taking the amount of money you need to raise and dividing that number by 100. That will give you an estimate of how many friends and family you need to reach your goal.
For example, if you need to raise $15,000, you’ll need at least 150 good friends and family members who you think would be willing to donate and share your campaign with others.
If you think you’d like to try out crowdfunding, here are the basics on getting started:
Check out similar crowdfunding campaigns first: Set aside about $50, and check out the various crowdfunding sites with family building campaigns. Consider giving $5 to at least 10 different campaigns on a variety of sites. You'll get an idea of how people crowdfund for infertility and also see how different sites work from the donor’s point of view. You'll also be helping people!
Choose a crowdfunding site: When deciding which site to use, first make sure that site allows crowdfunding for medical treatments or adoption. For example, Kickstarter, one of the most well known crowdfunding sites, doesn’t allow campaigns for non-creative projects. (One could argue that creating a family is a kind of "creative project," but I digress...)
When evaluating sites, look into fees (from the site itself and from processing payments), ease of use for donors, tools and support provided for fundraisers, payment options for donors, and approval processes.
Some crowdfunding sites to consider include:
Note: this is not an endorsement for any of these sites. Be sure to check out the policies, benefits, and limitations of each site before choosing.
Create your campaign materials: This is just a fancy way of saying write your story. Be sure to include a photo, and even better, a video message.
Consider what perks you may provide: You don’t have to include perks – which are bit like small thank you gifts for donors – but they can be helpful to offer. Make sure your perks are doable and low cost.
Start creating buzz before your campaign begins: Tell people you’re planning to start raising funds for IVF or adoption before your campaign begins. Ask for moral support and your hope that they will share your campaign with their friends and social connections once it’s live.
If you haven’t shared your infertility with friends and family, share this before you start talking about crowdfunding. Finding out about the infertility, and then a day later being asked for money, may not go over well. Allow time.
Carefully consider your fundraising goals: Don’t try to raise every penny of your IVF expenses via crowdfunding. People are less likely to donate if they feel your goal is too high or unattainable.
Explain in your story how much it costs. A breakdown of your expenses will help funders understand how costly your family building project is. And then tell them what you’re doing to meet them at last half way, if you can.
Also remember that when people see you’re getting close to your goal, they may be more excited to help you get there. People will often keep donating even once you’ve passed your goal.
Carefully consider your campaign length: Longer isn’t necessarily better. It’s hard to maintain excitement for your campaign over a long period of time. Indiegogo suggests a 30 to 40 day campaign.
Set up your crowdfunding page: Follow the directions and tutorials on your chosen crowdfunding site. If there’s an approval process involved, take that into consideration too.
Officially begin your campaign: Once you’re totally ready – everything looks just how you want it, and you’re not about to go on vacation so you’re ready to promote your campaign, and you’ve received whatever approvals you need from the site -- go live. Woohoo!
Good luck with your fundraising!
More on fertility treatment:
- IVF Procedures, Risks, Costs, and Success Rates
- How Much Does IVF Cost?
- What is Mini-IVF?
- Becoming Parents via Surrogacy
- IUI Treatment: Costs, Success Rates
- Fertility Treatment with Gonadotropins
- Fertility Treatment Stress: How to Survive Your IVF, IUI, or Other Fertility Treatment Cycle
- How to Cope When Trying to Conceive Overwhelms You
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DelVero, Jenn and Jim. Email Correspondence/Interview. October 6 – 8, 2013. https://twitter.com/JDneverlosehope
Hicken, Melanie. Crowdfunding for adoptions, fertility treatments. CNNMoney. Accessed October 23, 2013. http://money.cnn.com/2013/07/09/pf/crowdfunding-adoption/
Zimmermann, Kate. Indiegogo Help Center: Choose Your Goal and Deadline. Accessed October 23, 2013. http://support.indiegogo.com/entries/21004972-choose-your-goal-and-deadline