Maintaining Respect And Compassion When Fundraising For An Individual
When a person is stricken with a serious illness, or other serious issue, friends and family want to do anything they can to ease the burden on the individual and his or her family. But fundraising for an individual presents some unique issues that other fundraisers do not; any fundraising efforts done for the benefit of an individual must be handled with compassion and respect.
Respecting individuals and families
Above all other things, those at the head of a fundraiser for a sick person must remember that there is a person and family at the heart of the matter – a person and a family that has been dealt a raw hand in life, and should not have to tolerate one ounce of added stress. The wishes of the individual and family must be considered first and their privacy must be respected.
Before any plans pass beyond the idea stage, one or two volunteers close to the individual or family should make an appointment to sit down with them and discuss their desire and plans for fundraising. Some individuals and families are not comfortable with fundraisers on their behalf, and if ultimately they do not want the fundraiser, that must be respected.
It is acceptable to have a tactful and respectful conversation about how a group wants to help, but the conversation must be carefully calibrated so as not to add insult to injury. Part of a preliminary conversation should include the family and individual’s right to privacy, and they should be asked what limits they would like placed on both the fundraiser and information that is made public in regards to the illness and health status of the individual funds are being raised for. This is especially important if the fundraising group intends to get the media involved, or decides to raise funds online.
With the permission of the individual and/or family, planning for a fundraiser for a sick friend or family member can begin. This requires recruiting a dedicated base of volunteers who are willing and able to respect the individual, the family, and their wishes. A frank discussion with volunteers of what is and is not acceptable is absolutely necessary.
Volunteers should be prepared to field questions from business donors and private supporters once the fundraiser is underway. All volunteers and supporters must accept that they are giving freely out of compassion, and that they have no right to ask an individual or family to prove need in anyway. Volunteers should formulate answers to prying questions before going out after donations.
Encourage volunteers to speak generally about the distress any illness can cause a person of any financial means. Allow them to provide updates as to the person’s condition as appropriate and as per individual/family request. When nosy donors want to know how money will be spent, the answer should be in whatever way the individual or family sees fit – after all, who’s to say what is right in the face of a serious illness? If anything more than the basic answers are not good enough, donors can be politely thanked for their time, and reminded that their assistance is voluntary.
As a last note, remember that a fundraiser for an ill individual is done in the interest of easing his or her life in some way. The focus of the fundraiser should be on living and helping, not on only illness and misery. People give because it makes them feel better, and the best should be made of any fundraising situation for a person with an illness or other serious issue at hand; donors and supporters should always be made to feel they are helping in some way, and positive thoughts for the person in need should always prevail.
For another way to help individuals or families with their financial needs, read When Raising Funds For An Individual, Consider ModestNeeds.org.
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