Wondering how to make money on GoFundMe? This awesome crowdsourcing platform can be used to raise money for just about anything. However, some campaigns are definitely more successful than others… and we’ll show you how to give your GoFundMe the best chance for success.
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How does GoFundMe work?
GoFundMe is the #1 online fundraising platform. You can create a campaign by selecting a fundraising goal (dollar amount), tell your story and add pictures or videos. You’ll share that platform with your friends. As donations come in, you can choose to thank your donors, post updates and withdraw your funds. It’s easy!
You can use GoFundMe to raise money for:
- Medical expenses
- Education costs
- Volunteer programs
- Youth activities
- Funerals and Memorials
- Animals and Pets
- and more
Wondering how to set up a GoFundMe page?
Setting up the GoFundMe page is easy, at least as far as the technology is concerned. The hardest part is setting up your page in a way that inspires people to donate to your cause. Out of all the GoFundMe requests, why should they choose yours?
If you’re wondering how to start a GoFundMe, the steps are easy. Just visit GoFundMe.com and click the big “Start a GoFundMe” button. The system will guide you through the creation step-by-step.
Want to learn how to make money on GoFundMe?
It’s easy to set up a GoFundMe. It’s harder to create a GoFundMe that will actually result in donations and help you get your needs met.
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The hardest part about using GoFundMe is that millions of other people also need help. The platform has been used to fund-raise over $9 billion so far. That’s a lot of people with a lot of legitimate needs.
Fortunately, we’ve found a lot of helpful tips and tricks that can help you make your GoFundMe a success.
A successful GoFundMe is all about selling your story.
At it’s core, a successful GoFundMe campaign is based on salesmanship and marketing. You aren’t actually selling a product, but you are selling your story in the hope that the reader will contribute to your cause.
As a result, the tips and techniques that define a good GoFundMe campaign are very similar to those that define good salesmanship.
Approach your GoFundMe from the strongest angle.
Let’s talk about Jessica. Jessica is a 34 year old single mom to two kids. She’s working part-time while she’s going to college. She hopes this will improve their financial situation someday but in the meantime they struggle to make ends meet. Unfortunately, her only vehicle needs an expensive repair and because of that, she missed work and can’t make the rent this month.
Jessica can approach her situation from several different angles. Not all of them will produce the same results.
Jessica wants to ask for help with the rent, since it’s the most urgent need. It’s all Jessica can think about. She doesn’t want to ask for more than she needs, and she thinks it would be easier to get $750 for the rent instead of $2,500 for the car.
However, in this case, she should ask for help with the car.
Focus on the extenuating circumstances.
Life is hard and many people are barely getting by financially. When you create a GoFundMe, you need to realize that you are asking other people to part with their own hard-earned and much-needed money.
People are generally more compassionate when you’re suffering due to circumstances beyond your control.
As a result, it’s important to focus on the extenuating or unusual circumstances surrounding your needs. In Jessica’s case, her car had a serious and unexpected problem. This doesn’t happen in a normal month and is a very unusual expense.
Even if Jessica choose to fundraise for her rent, she should emphasize that she needs help with the rent because of the issue with her car. Connecting the need with the unusual circumstances will help make the story more compelling to donors.
Fundraise for the thing that will make the biggest difference.
In this case, Jessica is choosing between fundraising for the rent or for her car. Although her housing is certainly a critical need, the car actually makes the biggest difference in her family’s life.
Without the car, Jessica cannot get to work or school. The rent will be the first of many expenses that she cannot pay… and meanwhile, her children won’t be able to get to doctor’s appointments or anywhere else.
The car has the biggest impact on Jessica’s life, so that’s what she should fundraise for.
Avoid ongoing or long-term needs whenever possible.
Donors want to believe that their contribution is going to make a lasting difference. Something that is ongoing, long-term or consistent will invalidate that feeling very quickly.
In this case, Jessica will need to pay the rent again next month. Although her story about the car repair is certainly valid, it also points out that Jessica is one unexpected event away from not being able to pay her rent. People may be less likely to contribute to her if they think that this will become a recurring need.
For similar reasons, avoid asking for consumables whenever possible. Expenses like groceries and medications can also pose challenges.
Have someone you trust run the GoFundMe (if possible).
Many of the most successful and viral GoFundMe causes have been run by someone other than the beneficiary. This makes the case more sympathetic and also cuts through some of the awkwardness of asking for help for yourself.
If there is someone you trust who can run the GoFundMe on your behalf, you may want to consider asking them to do so.
Consider your fundraising goal carefully.
Don’t just estimate your fundraising goal! We’ve found some concrete tips that can help you be more successful.
Be prepared to prove how much money you need.
The most compelling fundraisers have documentation behind them. This helps donors feel confident that the money will be used for what you say it’ll be used for.
In this case, Jessica could upload a picture of the mechanic’s estimate to prove the extent of repairs required.
Choose a specific dollar amount, not an estimate.
The more specific the number is, the more compelling your case will be. In Never Split the Difference, FBI Negotiator Christopher Voss describes the impact that non-round numbers have on the psyche of those we’re working with. I would assume that using this in a GoFundMe could be very effective.
Next, you need to know to write a good GoFundMe story.
The secret to a successful GoFundMe is knowing how to write a good story.
Include these key elements in your story.
Every GoFundMe should include five basic elements that answer the who, what, when, where, why and how of your fundraiser.
To make your story easier to read, you should divide these sections into subheadings. I’ve included suggested subheadings below, but you’re welcome to invent your own titles.
The Backstory: Introduce yourself and what you’re raising money for. If you’re raising money for someone else, introduce them and explain how you know them.
Use this space to emotionally connect with the reader. Describe the challenges you’ve faced and how you’ve overcome past challenges. Explain how you’ve grown and become a better, stronger person because of your adversity. Share a turning point, when you realized that you needed help and couldn’t do it yourself any more.
It can be difficult to be so brutally honest with random people on the internet, especially if you are a private person. However, the human connection that is created by sharing this information will help your fundraiser succeed.
The Needs: Explain what is needed and why. Include any information about what you have done to help the situation yourself, before asking for help. People are more likely to donate if they feel like you’ve exhausted all of your other resources.
The Costs: Explain the expenses and how the money will be spent.
Why This Matters: Explain why this cause matters to you – and why it should matter to your donors.
Thank You: Express your gratitude.
How You Can Help: Encourage people to donate and share on social media.
Of course, you can include more information than that… but this outline should get you started.
Include details and vivid imagery to tell a story.
Storytelling skills are very important to your GoFundMe’s success. While telling then story, you should be as honest, personal and specific as possible.
Craft each sentence so that it helps your donors get to know the person and situation that they are helping. Use descriptions and details to make your story come alive for the reader. Evoke emotions with your words to create a lasting impact that drives people toward donation.
Ask yourself these questions while you are reviewing your GoFundMe story:
- Does the story flow naturally and in a way that makes sense to the reader?
- Does the story create a human connection with the reader?
- Does each sentence and picture make the reader more interested in donating?
- Are there any parts that are awkward or create unanswered questions?
- Is there anything in this story that is working against me or makes people less interested in helping?
Ask friends and family members to review your description before you publish it. This is the most important part of your GoFundMe, so put the extra work in to make sure it’s perfect.
If writing isn’t something you are comfortable with or skilled at, you may want to ask a friend for help. If you can afford it (and your needs are significant enough), you may find that paying a professional to write your story is a worthwhile expense.
Write 1,000 words about your situation.
The most effective fundraisers have at least 400 words in their story description. This length allows you to convey the situation, include important details and even keywords that can make it easier to find your fundraiser.
According to GoFundMe, “For best results, we recommend no fewer than 400 words; 800 is better, and around 1,000 is ideal.”
Include keywords so that your fundraiser shows up in searches.
Many people use online searches to find causes to support. If you don’t include any relevant keywords in your GoFundMe, you’re going to miss out on money.
Always include the beneficiary’s full name in the fundraiser name and URL. This makes it easier for people to find.
Include other relevant keywords that people may search for. In Jessica’s case, I would recommend using keywords like car repair, automotive repair, single mom, single parent, college student and scholarships.
Use easy-to-read formatting.
Use short paragraphs and subheadings, as though you were writing a piece of web content (like this article). Organizing the article this way makes it much easier to read.
Make sure to use a paragraph structure. You should start a new paragraph whenever you change topics. If you aren’t sure where to break your paragraphs, the official GoFundMe blog suggests breaking up your story every 4-5 sentences.
Use italics and bold font sparingly, to highlight quotes from people or important phrases.
Always check your spelling!
Make sure to check your spelling and grammar before you publish! There are many free spelling and grammar checkers that you can use.
Use photos throughout your story.
Photos help readers and donors connect with you on a personal level. Include photos of you and your specific needs. According to GoFundMe’s official page, “Fundraisers with at least five photos raise more than those with one.”
In Jessica’s example, she should include a photo of her with her children, as well as a photo of the vehicle and the repair estimate. She could also include a photo of her at work, school or her children at an extra curricular activity. Other photos could be added, but those would be critical.
When choosing photos, consider the following tips:
- Only use photos that are clear, focused, well-lit and family-friendly.
- Choose a cover photo that is brightly-colored and clearly shows the beneficiary of the fundraiser (you, your family, or whoever you are raising money for).
- Only use photos that are related to your fundraiser. Avoid generic or stock photography that isn’t related to what you’re working on.
- Create a story sequence in your photos. Imagine the story that your photos tell, and organize them in a way that makes sense sequentially.
- Include a photo with every update.
- Only use photos that are at least 600 pixels by 400 pixels.
- Only use photos that you own and have the rights to share.
Use at least one video if possible.
Video is a powerful medium. As the official GoFundMe blog points out, “A great video can go a long way toward making your fundraiser stand out. While a picture is worth a thousand words, a video can touch the hearts of your supporters and tell your story in a way images simply can’t.”
You don’t need fancy equipment to make a video. Honestly, our best YouTube videos were shot with a smartphone camera!
Follow these tips to make the best possible video for your GoFundMe:
- Stabilize your camera with a tripod, monopod or other stabilization technique. At the very least, have someone else hold the camera stable for you while you’re on camera.
- Film horizontally so the video plays better on YouTube and other platforms.
- Use good lighting techniques. Avoid bright light on the subject’s faces.
- Make sure to capture good audio.
- Focus on the rule of thirds when framing your shot. Many smartphones can create a nine-square grid to assist with this.
- Enlist editing help. For one of my YouTube channels, I pay an international editor $6 per hour on Upwork. His work is excellent and it’s well worth the money spent. Even if you’re short on cash, you may want to consider an editor because spending a small amount on a video could help you meet your much larger fundraising goals.
Translate it into different languages, if you can.
If you are bilingual or have someone who can help you, translate your description into different languages. This isn’t necessary, but it may help.
Choose a title that creates curiosity or sparks passion.
The title of your GoFundMe is the first thing that people will see. The title and the cover image are the two factors that determine whether people will click on your fundraiser or not.
Evoke an emotion with the title.
Titles that create a strong emotion within the reader are more likely to get attention. These include examples like “Kick Cancer to the Curb for ______” or “Every Kid Deserves a Bike!”
Personalize it with names.
Include the beneficiary’s name in the title to create a personal connection. If it’s related to a known disaster, such as a hurricane, include that event’s name as well.
Always ask these questions about your title.
I’ll be honest. When I’m writing content, the headline is always the biggest challenge.
When you’re writing a GoFundMe title, be sure to ask yourself these questions:
- Does it stand out? Is it unique?
- Is it easily searchable?
- Does it tell or hint at the story?
- If you saw it, would you be interested enough to click on it?
Want to know how to make money on GoFundMe? Post frequent updates.
Providing detailed updates and photos can maintain interest in your fundraiser. As GoFundMe suggests, “one of the best ways to fundraise money is to think of online donations as the beginning of people caring, not the end.”
The best way to thank the people who have contributed is to provide updates about your progress.
You can post updates about:
- Any changes in your situation or circumstances (for better or worse)
- How any donations received have been spent
- Thank you shout-outs to anyone who has donated or shared
- A request for supporters to share the GoFundMe link
How to Get my GoFundMe Noticed
Wondering where to share your GoFundMe? Often, the most frustrating part of this process is figuring out how to get attention to the fundraiser you’ve been crafting.
Start with your personal contacts.
Share your GoFundMe on your social media platforms, with your friends and family.
You can also send out an email to your contacts. Use a headline that prompts a click but isn’t spammy. Some of my favorites are “Can you help me out real quick?” or “Hey, I need a quick favor” or “Can you take 5 seconds to help me out?” In the email, share a condensed version of your story (no more than 5 sentences) and ask them to share your GoFundMe link on social media or via email.
If you create a social media page, you may be able to get more attention. I recommend public Facebook groups, since these have the best reach.
Don’t just post GoFundMe links, though! Share pictures and updates. Share relevant memes and other content. The more attention your content gets, the more attention your GoFundMe will receive.
Get media coverage for your GoFundMe.
Your best chance for success is to get local media to cover your fundraiser. You will need to pitch the reporter. Find a local newscaster or journalist who covers stories like yours. Send them a brief email about your story.
Do not use your fundraiser description, since that is written to ask for money. Your email should answer the question, “Why does the community care?”
When writing your pitch, consider if your fundraiser is related to any current events or news trends.
Reach out to local businesses.
Reach out to local businesses or organizations that are related to your cause. This is most effective once you’ve already received some support from people within the community or you’ve received media coverage.
For example, Jessica could reach out to local charitable organizations, especially those that serve single mothers, children, or assist with vehicle repairs. She could also reach out to local car dealerships, automotive repair shops and car parts stores.
Getting support from local businesses can make your fundraiser more newsworthy, which can also help you get attention from the press.
We receive dozens of GoFundMe requests every day. They are all great causes and worthy recipients, and we’d love to help… but we can’t. We also can’t spam our social media pages with all of the requests that we receive. We are happy to help you in other ways, but we cannot share or contribute to your fundraisers. I’m sorry!
Do you still have questions about how to make money on GoFundMe?
Let me know in the comments! I’d love to answer any other questions you may have.