TrueSense Marketing  ●  3/24/2017

Fundraising Secrets Successful Cancer Development Directors Know

Cancer fundraising is different.

Extensive testing has shown that many of the things fundraisers must do in other types of fundraising can work against you in cancer fundraising. That’s because virtually everyone has been touched by the disease in an intensely personal way.

Things cancer fundraising should do:

  • Convey hope.
    We are getting closer to ending cancer. That’s big news! Show donors how their gifts — even small ones — bring victory within reach.
  • Be frank.
    Not so long ago, just the word "cancer" was so freighted with stigma and fear that it caused real discomfort. Not anymore. Talk openly and frankly about the disease.
  • Show real people with cancer.
    Photos of people who visibly have the disease are crucial in cancer fundraising. People (especially children) with bald “chemo-head” represent the cause for most donors. These images should be positive, showing cancer fighters looking peaceful, happy, or determined. Check out our blog post about how to find your iconic fundraising image.
  • Tell stories.
    Tell stories of people who have battled cancer courageously, whether they’ve won or lost. If you tell stories about research, make them practical and patient-centered, not dry and scientific. To learn more about fundraising storytelling, check out our free guide.


Things cancer fundraising shouldn't do:

  • Don’t try to impress with numbers.
    People can’t relate to statistics about cancer diagnoses and deaths. Worse, these huge numbers suggest to donors that even a big gift is insignificant compared to the disease we’re fighting.
  • Don’t emphasize how devastating cancer is.
    People know. While it’s effective in most fundraising to dramatize the problem, in cancer fundraising, it’s a mistake.
  • Don’t be intellectual or academic.
    Avoid showing how smart and professional you, your researchers, and your physicians are. Instead, express real emotion. People give when you touch their hearts.


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