TrueSense Marketing  ●  4/13/2017

5 Tips for Successful Cancer Fundraising

We’ve worked with both regional and national cancer fundraisers. We’ve seen what works. And what doesn’t. Here are the five things that all successful cancer fundraisers have in common:

1. Utilize powerful fundraising offers.

Fundraising is about empowering donors to accomplish specific actions in the fight against cancer: To save lives. To help patients in specific ways. To support the research they care about most.

Don’t ask donors to buy into vague non-actions like “Join the fight against cancer,” “Stand up against cancer,” or worse, “Support our work.” Offer donors heroic actions like, “Save this child’s life,” “Help pay her bills,” and “Help put an end to breast cancer.”

When your offer is meaningful and specific, it drastically improves fundraising results.

2. Treat donors like the heroes they are.

The best cancer fundraisers don’t ask donors to climb onto their bandwagon. They ask if they can climb into the donor’s bandwagon. They say to the donor things like, “You can save a life.” They make it clear that the donor is the hero.

Bragging is not fundraising. Your message needs to focus on how awesome, wonderful, generous, and effective the donor is. Not on the excellence of your organization. Know that your excellence is the price of admission — but it’s not what motivates donors to give.

Encourage your donors to act by telling stories of individual people and their fight against cancer. Click here to read our How-To Storytelling Guide. They don’t bludgeon donors with big numbers about the disease. That only emphasizes to the donor how small her part is.

Be sure to steward your donors and report back on her heroic accomplishments — the difference she made by giving.

3. Use images as part of your story.

In fundraising, a picture is worth more than a thousand words. It is important to know which fundraising images reach donors.

Here are some photos like the ones we often see in cancer fundraising:

cancer fundraising image examples

Pro tip: Everyone knows that cancer strikes all ages. But donors’ hearts go out to sick kids — not balanced representations of the populations you serve. It’s human psychology: We’re hard-wired to help children.

4. Tap into the power of data.

Donors come in a lot of varieties. From low-dollar transactional donors to committed sustainer donors to those who make bequests. You need all types. Discovering who’s who among your donors and knowing what to do with the information can lift your fundraising program to a high level of ongoing growth.

How to make superb use of your donor data:

  • Use statistical modeling.
  • Participate in donor data co-ops.
  • Have sophisticated segmentation that focuses resources on the right donors at the right time in the right channel.

5. Know you have to spend money to make money.

Fundraising is an investment. Stay on a growth path by implementing these strategies:

  • Aggresive, year-round new donor acquisition with constant testing to keep the message short and effective. Click here to read our FREE Grateful Patient Fundraising E-Book.
  • Diversified use of donor-acquisition channels. Donors don’t live on direct mail alone, but put money into phone, radio, television, and digital channels (including social media, search, paid advertising, and more). Not everything they try works — but they uncover winners that bring in donors in ways a solo-channel approach will miss.

By implementing these strategies into your cancer fundraising, you will generate greater revenue for your cancer center.


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