Six Steps to Guarantee a Successful Disaster Relief Fund

| 7 min read Fundraising Strategy

In the aftermath of a natural disaster, a community needs help in order to rebuild and recover. A disaster relief fund can help you rally your own community while encouraging others to offer vital support. Below, read about six essential tips for running a successful fundraiser after a disaster so you can harness the collective power of your community and help those in need. 

Start a disaster relief fund

1. Set up a relief fund for the community

Many people have turned to crowdfunding as a way to raise money quickly when natural disasters strike. Fundraisers can take many forms—you could raise money to rebuild homes after a flood, fund emergency medical care for survivors, or help get your neighbors back on their feet in hundreds of useful ways. If you don’t know how to set up a disaster relief fund, these tips can help:

  • In the description section, explain what happened and how it hit your community – writing to reach not just friends and family, but others who may not know the full story. 
  • Write a timeline for fundraising and distribution, clearly showing how funds will be distributed effectively.
  • Others in your community will likely set up fundraisers that complement yours. Connect with others raising funds to make your combined efforts as effective as possible.

2. Use your social network to spread the word

If you promote your fundraiser on social media, you’ll be more likely to receive donations and keep the momentum going. If you’re comfortable with sharing your story we’ve seen that social media channels are one of the best ways to announce your relief fund to your community. Below, these tips can help you share your resources in the most effective way:

  • Encourage your friends and family to share your fundraiser link. The extra exposure can boost both traffic and donations, and increases the likelihood of your reaching potential donors.
  • If you want to reach more potential donors beyond your immediate circle on Facebook, make sure that your posts about the fundraiser are made public, rather than “friends only” so that everyone can view it. 
  • On Twitter, tag your posts with the most popular hashtags associated with the situation—for example, #TexasStrong.

3. Reach out to media for extra exposure

When a disaster strikes a community, it often creates a flurry of media attention. It’s important to take advantage of that attention while it lasts. In addition to sharing your fundraiser on your own profiles and pages, share it on the social media pages and accounts of relevant organizations. Reporters are often happy to shine a light on relief funds, which offer viewers or readers something positive and actionable to do. 

Some other tips:

  • If you’re comfortable with the media exposure, reach out directly to local media outlets (TV, radio, and online news sites). Ask them to add your fundraiser name and link to their stories, so people know how they can help.
  • Post your link in the comments section of related news stories and any social media posts about it.
  • Find the Twitter and Facebook pages of your local news organizations, and post links to your fundraiser there. If they approve or share your post, it could reach a large local audience.

4. Host a fundraising event

Fundraising events do more than generate donations—they physically engage your community, increase awareness, and reach new kinds of donors. Also local residents often look for resources to support the relief effort with more than just monetary donations. 

Fundraising events allow such people to bring donated items, meet like-minded people, and team up to provide relief efforts. They can also inspire ideas and projects that could be good outlets for your funds. Many of the fundraisers for Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Irma were spearheaded by athletes with strong ties to their local community, who rallied support through offline fundraising events.

Remember that if you plan an event, focus on fundraising event ideas that create a direct link between your community and the cause.

5. Partner with local businesses and organizations

Local businesses and organizations take pride in their community and will invest in its recovery, so it makes sense to find out if you can partner with local organizations or businesses to host fundraising events that can help your cause.

Local organizations or businesses typically offer assistance after a disaster in one of several ways—most often by matching donations, providing space for fundraising events, or donating a percentage of proceeds from products or services to fundraisers.

6. Keep your community updated

When people donate to your fundraiser, they become financially and emotionally invested in helping the victims of a disaster. They often expect updates about the fund’s progress and its positive impact. That’s why it’s important to post regular fundraising updates to keep people engaged and informed about recovery efforts. When your community sees the response your fundraiser is getting, they will be more likely to keep sharing your information that will provide you with new donors.

Such updates can generate new interest after a donation lull, inspiring donors to share information with their social network once more. Updates can also be a good place to maintain clear communication between disaster victims and supporters.

Successful crowdfunding examples 

Nor Cal Fire Relief

After the devastating fires in Napa and Sonoma, Napa resident and vineyard owner Jake Kloberdanz started helping by setting up a relief fund to make a difference. Jake rallied more than 5,000 people in his community and across the country to raise over $600,000 to assist  the efforts of several large organizations. Jake helped make the fundraiser as successful as possible by continuously thanking all of his major community donors in his updates. 

Harvey Disaster Animal Fund

Nancy launched a fundraiser after Hurricane Harvey devastated Texas and left countless animals stranded and injured in floodwaters. She partnered with local farm and animal rescue organizations to rally support. More than $250,000 was raised by over 6,000 people to help rescue and rehome dogs who were left homeless by Hurricane Harvey. 

Love Army for Somalia

Of course, disasters can happen anywhere in the world. And it was an international group of social media stars who came together to start a fundraiser to help people in Somalia who are affected by famine. Jérôme Jarre and his fellow campaign organizers used their social media influencer power to raise more than $2.7 million and partner with NGOs on the ground to distribute food and supplies to people in need. 

Jérôme and his fellow organizers posted regularly video and photo updates throughout the fundraising process to let supporters know when they hit milestones and when they needed more momentum. Perhaps most importantly, they gave on-the-ground updates from Somalia to show their donors the direct impact of their generosity. 

Fundraising is a powerful tool to restore your community

In times of immense difficulty, people have an innate desire to provide financial help to others. If your community is trying to heal,  disaster relief funds can be a powerful step toward recovery. You can set up a fundraiser within minutes through GoFundMe and begin collecting donations instantly. And our fundraising model means that more of your donations can go to the community members who most need them. You can even fundraise during the COVID-19 pandemic to assist those affected by the coronavirus. Sign up today to start making a difference right now.

Start a disaster relief fundraiser

Written by GoFundMe