Affording Natural Treatments Series, Part I: Introduction and Online Fundraising
You have to kind of laugh when you come to realize that many natural treatments work better than the unnatural chemicals that are offered up as “medicine” these days for just about everything, yet they are almost without exception never covered by insurance. It can even start to drive you a little crazy once you start thinking about how much less expensive these more effective treatments are than their chemical substitutes. Yet without insurance they start to add up and become unaffordable for most people very quickly. If only the insurance companies would just realize they could get off a lot cheaper for these sorts of treatments and have healthier customers in the long run that will require less future care to boot, then financially they would be a lot better off, right?
Well, not quite. I couldn’t figure that part out for a long time until we watched a documentary called Wait Till It’s Free. Watch it sometime, after you’ve watched all the cancer and health documentaries in our resource section of course, if you want a great explanation of how everybody (except the patients, tax payers, and freedom) wins under the current system and even more so as it travels down the current path. Yes, big pharma, big hospitals, big government, and even big insurance are doing just fine denying the rest of us the right to be truly healthy.
But I digress. The system isn’t going to change tomorrow. I imagine it’s going to get a whole lot worse before it gets better in fact. So it’s up to us to figure out how to afford the treatments, supplements, healthy food and lifestyles, etc. that we know will give our kids the best shot at being the healthiest they can be. We have been stumbling our way through this for over a year now, and while I wish we’d done even better from the start and as I write this are currently thousands of dollars in the hole, we’ve been able to buy our son mountains of supplements, continuous treatments, a small arsenal of expensive gadgets, and an endless supply of fresh organic produce for juicing and meals. And that’s what counts.
That being said, here are the things we did, and some we thought of later that we wish we did, to support our journey to health for our son. As you go through this series, one concept to always keep in mind is delegation. You’ve likely got at least a few good friends and family members, as well as people you didn’t know before who tend to come out of the woodwork due to the circumstances, that really want to help. Let them! Now is not the time to be scared or feel bad to ask for the help of others. Chances are, they want to help but don’t know how. Always be asking yourself, with fundraising strategies and everything else for that matter, if this is something someone else can do so you can focus more on your kid.
One more thing to keep in mind. This is a marathon, not a sprint. Keep in mind you need to have a balance of strategies that will pay off now, and in the future. Also note that for the ideas that will take longer to pay off, the ball does need to be rolling so they will come through when you need it.
Without a doubt, the least time consuming and most effective way to raise money immediately and get yourself through the initial push. An online fundraising campaign is undoubtedly the fastest way to get an immediate cash injection to fund initial purchases of supplements, gadgets, treatments, etc. And if done right, they can be sustained for quite some time as well. Here are a few ways we helped our online campaign raise nearly $30,000 to spend on our son, and several that in hindsight would have helped bring in even more as well.
Which Platform to Use: Youcaring.com is an online fundraising platform specifically for medical issues and hardships. It has all the same features and capabilities as the more well-known platforms like Kick Starter or Go Fund Me, with the notable difference of not charging any service fees aside from the credit card processing fees charged by Paypal or WePay. Once you start getting a good deal of money coming in, that extra three percent or so in your pocket really starts to add up. We’re very grateful we found it. YouCaring has a bunch of great tips on the site for how to pull off a successful fundraiser. Here are a few points of emphasis and additions from us.
Videos are a must: If a picture is worth a thousand words, in this case a video is worth a thousand pictures. We’ve found them to be exponentially better than just a picture and a little write-up for your main image that will be shared on facebook and other social networks. If you really want to tug at people’s heartstrings and motivate them to donate to your cause, they need to get to know you and especially your child. Seeing your kid babbling, talking, running around, etc. and the trials you have to overcome in addition to how dedicated you are to helping your child will serve as a window into your lives. A video is really the only way to get all of that across in a format people will readily consume and understand.
My cousin happens to be a film maker and put together an incredible video for us I narrated myself that was very well received. You can see it here for inspiration in addition to one Teddy put together a short time later to Ryder’s favorite music. We heard on more than one occasion from people that told us they were in tears the whole way through watching it. One such comment was accompanied by a $1,000 donation from a lady we had never met! By the way, I recorded the whole narration in a quiet room in the hospital while we were inpatient. I tested out a whole lot of different voice recorder apps for my iphone and the only one I found that made a high quality recording which I ended up using was Recordium.
If your cousin isn’t a film maker, not a problem. Free video editing software can be easily found and downloaded online. A lot of people just use the basic format of still pictures using text to tell the story with some emotional music in the background. Teddy made a very powerful video herself this way (that I referenced above) as a follow up to my cousin’s.
If you’re set on having a more professional video than you or a friend or family member can make, the internet will provide. Post an ad in the creative gigs section on craigslist explaining your situation. I did this one time when we were trying to make a video for a buddy of mine who was tragically paralyzed and had several responses from people willing to help for no charge in a day or two. One last thing you could try if that fails to work is Upwork.com. This is a site that connects people in need of services of all kinds with freelancers of all talents from all over the world. You could easily coordinate with a very skilled film maker from halfway across the world to do all your editing for a few bucks an hour! Or again, possibly even for free if you explain the circumstances…
Post It: Once you have your video, the next step is obviously to get it seen by as many people as possible. Start by sharing it on your facebook page (if you have one) with a quick explanation of what’s going on, and also ask that everyone shares the video themselves once they watch it. It’s important to be very sincere and write from the heart so that people fully understand it’s a serious issue and feel compelled to help you in any way they can. Next (or first if you don’t have a facebook page yourself), ask all of your close friends and family members to share the video on their pages. Ideally, if you can coordinate it without too much hassle, each posting would be staggered throughout the day(s) as people are online at different times. This would give the video the best chance to be seen by as many people as possible.
Just the few steps above gave us a very nice boost to get off the ground and start buying some big ticket items such as a juicer, infrared sauna, biomat, water ionizer, frequency generator, initial naturopath treatments, and our first massive round of supplement purchases without thinking twice (yes, we bought all of those things within the first month or so). To keep the treatments and supplements going after the initial hype had died down however, we had to get a little creative.
Long Term Sharing: What kept the sharing going and donations with it for some time to come was sending personal messages to all of our “friends” on facebook that we weren’t even necessarily as close with telling them what was going on and asking them to please share the video, explaining that every time it gets shared we get donations which allow us to continue treatment for our son. Just sending five or ten of these messages a day, simply copying and pasting the same paragraph and maybe adding a sentence or two at the beginning to personalize it, was all it took to keep up a decent momentum. I made sure to put the word “friends” in quotes however, because the lack of response or action from a whole lot of people we had known well enough at least to be facebook friends at one time or another was quite saddening, and maddening…to put it mildly. This is definitely a “finding out who your real friends are” experience, so be ready for that if you haven’t already experienced it. We kept doing it though because it did pay off from those who did help out and that’s all that matters. Along the same lines, what will really multiply this effect exponentially which we should have done more of, is going back to that circle of close friends and family, and asking them to send similar messages to all of their contacts. I can’t stress enough the importance of having people working for you so you can have more time to research, formulate, implement, and modify your child’s regimen, and this importance needs to be stressed to your inner circle.
Turbo Chargers: A couple ideas on getting huge boosts in traffic and donations to an online fundraiser. We made some half-hearted attempts at this (but never tried as hard as we should have), but we have seen others get enormous boosts by getting a celebrity to share their fundraising page. If you or any friends know any level of celebrity that would be a no brainer. You could also assign reaching out to celebrities to one of your friends. I just found out about this site so I have no clue how well it works, but looking at www.contactanycelebrity.com, it seems that the monthly membership fee (or just the free trial) would be well worth the cost for a couple months if it led to landing a celebrity or two. If anyone gives it a try, please let us all know how it went in the comments section.
Another booster we’ve seen people use is getting a segment on the local news. It seems, though, that in order for the news to be interested in running your story, your kid needs to have cancer AND there has to be something else compelling going on at the same time. Sadly, childhood cancer isn’t as rare and shocking as it once was. Keep that in mind when reaching out to news stations and reporters. We were actually all set to have a news crew for one of the local stations come to our house when we were still in Washington, but backed out at the last minute when it became apparent the reporter was only interested in focusing on the CPS aspect of our story and was most likely going to stir up more trouble for us than we had already… So I suppose a good question to ask yourself about the news is “could it make things worse for us?” Again though, if the answer is no or at most likely not, it’s a quick and easy way to tug at a lot of heart strings and probably make some very helpful connections in the area as well.
All that said, I’m by no means any sort of expert on social media, just a guy whose kid got cancer and had to figure this stuff out along the way.
The master of online fundraising in my opinion is, Ryan Luelf. Be sure to listen to his podcast episode for some great fundraising wisdom.