Tips for Successful Crowdfunding of IVF or Adoption

Raising Funds for Infertility While Maintaining Your Sanity

Piggy bank on a keyboard
Raising money online for IVF looks easier than it is, but with a good plan, you can be successful. twing / Getty Images

So you’ve decided crowdfunding for IVF (or adoption) is for you, and you’ve got the basics of how it works down. These tips will help your infertility crowdfunding campaign meet with more success, and (hopefully!) be a more positive experience.

Tip #1: Carefully Consider Your Chosen Crowdfunding Site

There are so many crowdfunding websites out there, and some are specifically made for raising money for adoption or medical funds.

The best site for you isn’t necessarily the site made “just for IVF” or the site with the lowest fees.

Some factors to consider when choosing include:

  • Is this site recognizable? Will my friends and family trust that their money is going to be handled in a secure way?
  • What kind of support will I receive? Some crowdfunding sites leave everything up to you, while others have active communities where you can get tips and help. Some sites have great tools to help you crowdfund and make a compelling campaign page, while others are lacking.
  • Do I meet the requirements of this site? You may need to have your campaign approved first. Not all crowdfunding sites accept IVF or adoption crowdfunding.
  • Are there opportunities to expand beyond my immediate connections? Putting your campaign on a larger site may increase the odds of strangers deciding to give.
  • What fees are involved, for me and my donors? There may be fees just for receiving a donation, or fees for credit card processing. The fees may differ depending on how much you raise. On most sites, a donation isn’t considered tax deductible, but on a few sites, they are.
  • What if I don’t raise all the funds? Will you get some of the funds or none of the funds if you don't meet your goal? (There can be pros and cons to this, more on that below.) AdoptTogether sometimes gives grants to make up for money not raised during a campaign.

Tip #2: Share Your Story in a Hopeful, Personable, and Readable Way

Infertility is heartbreaking, and there is certainly a time and place for sharing your feelings of sadness and hopelessness.

That said, your crowdfunding page isn’t the place.

IVF is a tricky medical bill to get people to help fund because there are no guarantees. Story is a huge part of this. You need to pull at people’s heart strings, but stay hopeful at the same time.

Don’t rush putting your story together. Be clear what you’re asking for – a chance to have a baby -- and what you’re not asking for -- a guaranteed baby.

Other things to keep in mind when putting together your campaign story:

  • Give a little blurb at the top. Kind of like an elevator speech. Then, below your blurb, go into the more detail of your story. Also be sure to use subheadings in bold and write in smaller paragraphs. Long pages of text online are difficult to read.
  • Don’t use jargon. Not everyone understands what it means that your CD3 FSH was 25. You don’t really need to go into great medical detail anyway, but whatever infertility information you do share, make it understandable for those outside of fertility circles. You may want to ask a fertile friend to read it over and give you feedback.
  • Include your odds for success. If your doctor feels you have a really good chance of conceiving with IVF, be sure and share that information. You don't have to share percentages, but you certainly should include your hopefulness.
  • Maintain your privacy. Unless you want to, you really don’t have to go into the details of why you can’t conceive. You can say you both have fertility problems, if you want to avoid the entire “who’s the infertile” conversation. You don’t have to post your partner’s semen analysis report. Anything you wouldn't want to tell your boss to her face, don't share on your campaign!
  • Post photos and video. Yes, maintain your medical privacy, but do share a photographs and video. It makes you so much more real and trustworthy. Keep your video short, under four minutes if possible, and make sure you include a link to your crowdfunding campaign in the description of your video. (Someone may come across your story on YouTube, for example, and want to give!) 

Tip# 3: Lay Down Your Goals Clearly and Realistically

People want to give to a campaign that knows what it needs and why. Consider posting a budget breakdown of where the funds you’re raising will go. People may be surprised at just how expensive IVF or adoption is.

For example, if you’re breaking down IVF treatment costs, share a list that shows the basics and their fees. So that list may include the IVF procedure itself, the medications, the monitoring costs, the embryos storage and handling costs, and travel expenses, if your fertility clinic isn’t local.

(By the way, you don’t have to share the tiny details like ICSI or PGD that may stir controversy or betray your wish for privacy. You can lump that into the larger IVF procedure fee, if you want.)

Other ways to state your goals:

  • If you’re raising funds for IVF, ask for a chance to conceive, not a baby. It’s important you keep your request realistic and grounded, and people know IVF is not a guarantee. Sell them on letting you have a chance, and why having this chance is so important to you.
  • If you’re using an IVF refund program, share what you’ll use the money for if treatment fails. Let people know you’ll use those funds for adoption, or you’ll use them to pay off debts you acquired up until this point on infertility. People want to know their money will do good in the short and long run.
  • Set a reasonable campaign length. The recommended length is 30 to 40 days. Longer doesn’t mean more money or success, and usually just tires out everyone involved.
  • Show you’ve done your part. Don’t lay out the entire budget for IVF, and then ask everyone else to cover it all. Show you’ve done your part, whether it’s gathering your savings or taking on extra work. Whatever it is that you’ve done to raise your part of the expenses, tell your supporters. They will be more likely to give.
  • Consider a fund or bust campaign. Have you considered what will happen if you don’t raise enough funds? What will you do with the money you did raise? You might want to consider a fund or bust campaign. At Indiegogo.com, this is called Fixed Funding. In this case, if you don’t raise your goal amount, the donors get their money back. And if you do raise the money, you get charged a lower fee as well. Be sure to read the fine print, whichever funding style you choose.
  • Set a realistic campaign goal. This is really important – make sure your fundraising goal is realistic. Do you really have enough connections to raise what you need? If you ask for too much, people are actually less likely to give. On the other hand, people will often keep giving even once you’ve reached your goal. (More on determining whether your crowdfunding goals are realistic here.)

Tip #4: Carefully Consider Perks

Perks are an optional but fun way to reward people who give to your campaign. Take a look at the popular crowdfunding sites, and you’ll find plenty of examples.

The most important thing to remember is that your perks should be realistic and not overshadow the donation. Before you promise a dozen homemade cookies to the first 100 people who donate $15, consider just how you’re going to make and deliver all those cookies, and how much money and time it’ll take.

Other important things to keep in mind when creating perks:

  • They don’t need to be baby related. In fact, it may be better if they aren’t, especially if you’re funding fertility treatments. You have no guarantees of delivering good news. Which brings me to the next word of advice...
  • Think before you offer naming rights to donors. I’ve seen this a lot on IVF campaigns, that those that give a certain amount will get a say in naming the baby. This is your baby’s name – do you really want to auction that off? Really?
  • Be careful about promising to share the news first. If your coworker in the next cubical donates, but your favorite Aunt Jody doesn’t, are you really going to tell your coworker that you’re pregnant first?
  • Think unique, fun, and inexpensive. A family recipe? Do you have a crafty hobby you can share (within reasonable limits)? For big donors, do you have a skill you can offer? Be creative.
  • Be sure your perk doesn’t overshadow the donation. Once you take into consideration fees taken by the crowdfunding site and fees taken by credit cards, you don’t want to spend too much now on perks. People want to donate – they realize they aren’t “buying” something from you. Perks are little thank gifts, the key word here being little.
  • You don’t have to give away any perks. They aren’t required, so if you can’t think of a reasonable way to give them out, don’t.

Tip #5: Share Thoughtfully and Frequently

To have any chance of success at crowdfunding, you’ll need to share, and share often. In fact, you should start sharing the idea of your campaign before you go live with it. Get your good friends and supportive family members behind you, and get them excited about helping.

Remind them that helping isn’t just donating – it’s also sharing your crowdfunding with their connections.

More things to keep in mind as you share:

  • Don’t break your silence of infertility with crowdfunding. I don’t know if there’s any good rule about how long to “come out” before you start asking for funding, but it’s probably not a good idea to reveal your fertility problems and start asking for money the very next day.
  • Share with your closest friends and family first. And ask them to leave comments on the campaign page, even if they want to give anonymously, because it’ll help attract more donors. A more active looking campaign tends to become more active.
  • Share frequently (without spamming people.) Look at any information on marketing, and you’ll see that people rarely act on the very first exposure to something. Share your campaign and share often. Just don’t spam people’s in-boxes or newsfeeds.
  • Don’t forget to share on your blog and social media sites. Most of all, remind people that sharing is caring. Even if they already gave or can’t give, they still can share and help you in this way.
  • Update your campaign page. Most campaign pages have an option to share updates, and you should update your campaign page. Remember to stay hopeful and positive.

Tip #6: Consider Reaching Out to the Local Media

Crowdfunding is a hot topic, and crowdfunding for IVF is even hotter. If your local news hasn’t done a story on crowdfunding for family building yet, they may just do a story and feature you if you speak up.

You may want to ask your fertility doctor if he’d be willing to talk to the media about infertility. If he says yes, you can offer that possibility to your local news media.

Other ways to get your story spreading:

  • Think like a newscaster and try to give them a story. Your main objective is to gain more supporters, but their main objective is to find a great story. Keep that in mind when you approach them.
  • Consider what makes your story interesting or unique. Are you a dedicated school teacher, working with kids every day, but unable to have your own child? Are you infertile because insurance didn’t cover fertility preservation before cancer treatment? Or because you didn’t know about your fertility preservation options? Why should they feature you instead of another crowdfunding person?
  • Consider what your story can teach others. The more you make your story informative, the more likely it is that they’ll cover your story.

Tip #7: Be Grateful to Donors But Maintain Boundaries

Once your campaign is over, send out your promised perks as soon as possible, and update your campaign page on your next step.

You should absolutely let your donors know the outcome of what they supported you for. If it’s IVF, let them know if it’s a success (or not.) If it’s adoption, keep them updated as well.

You don’t, however, owe them every last detail of your journey. You don’t have to share exactly when your cycle starts and ends, unless you want to. You also don’t have to share your good (or bad) news before you’re ready. You also aren't obligated to accept their advice.

Remember that they have given you an opportunity to build your family, not bought decision making rights into your treatment or family building journey.

More on fertility treatment costs:

Sources:

DelVero, Jenn and Jim. Email Correspondence/Interview. October 6 – 8, 2013.

Zimmermann, Kate. Indiegogo Help Center: Choose Your Goal and Deadline. Accessed October 23, 2013. http://support.indiegogo.com/entries/21004972-choose-your-goal-and-deadline

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