Learn about the top fundraising ideas for cancer treatment, awareness, and research.

Fundraising Ideas for Cancer Treatment, Research, and Awareness

With an estimated 1,685,210 new cancer diagnoses in the last year (source), it’s not surprising that fundraising for cancer is rapidly growing. And it’s not just organizations looking to raising money.

Whether you’re an individual, organization, or hospital trying to raise money for cancer-related causes, we’ve created this guide to help you along your fundraising journey.

Here’s what we’ll cover:

  1. Common reasons to raise funds for cancer.
  2. Top fundraising ideas for cancer.
  3. How to help promote your fundraiser.

Let’s get started.There are many reasons why individuals raise funds for cancer.

1. Common reasons to raise funds for cancer.

There are multiple reasons why people and organizations raise funds for cancer. Since so many reasons exist, it’s important to be clear with donors as to why you’re raising funds. When donors know exactly why you’re raising funds, they be more likely to give to your cause.

For the purpose of this article, we’ll look at three common reasons individuals and organizations alike raise funds for cancer:

Cancer treatment and at-home recovery care

Cancer treatment is expensive. Not only do patients have to deal with hospital expenses, but they also have to pay for medicine and any recovery care that’s needed.

In a recent study, it was estimated that the cost of medical expenses would increase by over 12% between 2010 and 2016 (source). With costs rising, it can be challenging for cancer patients to pay for all the treatment they need, and creating a fundraiser can help patients cover the costs.

For those battling cancer, they face emotional and physical challenges as well as financial obligations. Therefore, it’s crucial for family members and friends to offer their support. However, sometimes these supporters don’t know how to help their loved ones.

With that said, it can be beneficial for the person battling cancer to set up a fundraiser. The person gets to raise money to help with the cost of medical expenses while the patient’s loved ones have a way to offer their support. 

Cancer research

Perhaps you or a loved one is a battling cancer, and you want to improve treatments as well as help future patients. Creating a fundraiser for cancer research is a way to support the doctors and scientists that are working hard to find a cure to eradicate cancer.

Individuals and organizations alike can raise funds for cancer research as a way to support the community and any future cancer patients. Even if you don’t have a direct connection to cancer, raising funds for research is a great way to help prevent cancer from taking more lives in the years to come.

Cancer awareness

If you or a loved one has beaten cancer, you know that there are many parts about the illness that others may not understand. By raising awareness about cancer, you can help future cancer patients get the support they need as well as educate people about the disease and how to seek help.

Starting a fundraiser and sharing your story is one way to grow awareness and raise funds for cancer treatment or research.

By raising money for cancer awareness, you can help encourage men and women to get checkups, rally donors to give to cancer research, and ensure that the importance of finding a cure remains in the public eye.

Bottom line: While these are just some of the reasons that can motivate you to raise funds for cancer, your purpose may be slightly different or even more specific. Just remember to be as transparent as possible so that potential donors know how the funds will be used.

We'll cover out top fundraising ideas for cancer treatment, research, and awareness.

2. Top fundraising ideas for cancer.

Now that you’re clear on why you want to raise funds, let’s get into our top fundraising ideas for cancer treatment, research, and awareness.

Crowdfunding (Our Top Choice!)

Crowdfunding is our top fundraising idea for cancer-related causes because it’s easy and inexpensive to start. If you’re recovering from surgery or need a lot of bedrest, crowdfunding is a great option when you can’t actively fundraise.

If you’re not familiar with crowdfunding, it’s a way to raise money that utilizes social sharing capabilities to help spread the word about your campaign. Interested fundraisers will create a page on a crowdfunding platform and explain why they’re raising funds.

Donors can find your page by searching crowdfunding campaigns, through social media posts, and from their peers who share your campaign.

Here’s an example of what a cancer treatment crowdfunding campaign looks like: 

Here is an example of Fundly crowdfunding campaign to raise funds for cancer treatment.

A crucial step in creating a campaign is picking the right crowdfunding platform. Your page will be where donors come to learn more about your cause, make a donation, and share your cause with their peers.

Regardless of why you’re raising funds, there are a few universal features that you should look for in a crowdfunding platform:

  • Social sharing buttons (located in prominent locations)
  • A place to add images and video content
  • Visuals that display your goal and your campaign’s current progress
  • Mobile-friendly pages

Once you’ve found your platform and created your page, it’s time to start asking for donations. You can spread the word about your campaign by sharing your page on social media or writing letters (see section three).

Walkathon (The Active Fundraiser!)

Organizations usually host walkathons to raise funds for health-related causes, so raising money for cancer treatment, research, or awareness is the perfect fit for this fundraiser!

Donors and those affected by cancer can unite in an active, supportive event.

While walkathons take a little more planning, the concept is simple: you map out a route and raise money by charging a registration fee or having supporters pledge a donation for every mile they walk. 

Before and during the event, you can also raise money by selling merchandise (ex. water bottles, t-shirts, hats, etc.). The walkathon will end with a celebration, thanking everyone for their support.

As you plan your walkathon, keep the following tips in mind:

  • Pick a date and location for your event  Choose a season that has good weather (and little chance of rain!), and obtain all the necessary permits to host the event in the location you’ve chosen.
  • Announce when your registration is open – People can’t attend your event if you don’t tell them how to register. Send out an email and share the registration page on social media.
  • Prepare your safety precautions – To keep participants safe, you may need to request police officers to direct traffic, and you should have medical supplies and professionals in case of an accident.
  • Provide food and water throughout the event – Set up tables along the route with water, healthy snacks, and fans so that participants can stay refreshed.

Walkathons can be uplifting and encouraging events, which makes them perfect for cancer-related causes. Learn more about planning a walkathon.

Peer-to-Peer Fundraising (A Collaborative Effort!)

Typically, peer-to-peer campaigns are run by nonprofit organizations in an attempt to raise funds using their existing supporters.

Supporters can raise funds for their favorite nonprofits by asking their peers to make contributions. Nonprofits leverage their supporters’ connections to build relationships with new supporters.

Let’s take a look at the process for a typical peer-to-peer campaign.

  1. The nonprofit determines the parameters of the campaign by setting a goal, developing a timeline, and choosing the event that will mark the end of the campaign.
  2. After announcing the campaign, the nonprofit will recruit supporters to participate.
  3. With the nonprofit’s help, the participating supporters will create their fundraising pages and set individual goals.
  4. Supporters will solicit donations from their friends and family members, narrating their connection to the nonprofit and it’s mission.
  5. Throughout the campaign, the nonprofit should share updates on the progress of the campaign and encouraging messages to motivate the fundraisers.
  6. An event (like a walkathon) marks the end of the campaign. It will be a chance for the nonprofit and fundraisers to celebrate their success.
  7. Both the nonprofit and fundraisers should thank donors for contributing.

If you’re a nonprofit organization looking to raise money for cancer-related causes, why not host your own campaign? Or, if you’re an individual, become a peer-to-peer fundraiser for a nonprofit you support.

Peer-to-peer fundraising is a great way for nonprofits and individuals to raise funds for cancer research and awareness. Check out our guide to peer-to-peer fundraising to learn more.

Bottom line: These fundraising ideas can work for both individuals and nonprofits looking to raise money for cancer treatment, research, and awareness. Choose the fundraiser that will work best for your needs and start fundraising!

Promoting your fundraising ideas for cancer will help you reach your goal.

3. Best practices to promote your fundraiser.

If you’re starting a fundraiser for cancer treatment, research, or awareness, promoting your fundraiser should be one of your top priorities. Sharing your fundraiser is the only way people will know that it exists, and the only way you’ll be able to encourage them to contribute.

Luckily, promoting your fundraiser isn’t as hard as it sounds. By sharing your campaign on social media and writing letters, you’ll be able to spread the word.

Social Media

With so many people on social media, it’s the perfect platform to share your fundraiser and ask people to contribute. 

The first thing you should do is figure out what platforms you want to use. Consider where you already have largest following and what type of content you’ll be posting. For example if you enjoy posting on Instagram and a lot of your peers follow you, post pictures of your fundraiser’s progress.

Social media is great for many reasons, and by following a simple formula, you can increase the number of people that see your campaign.

Here’s what you should include in your social media posts:

  • Images and videos
  • A link to your fundraiser (or donation page)
  • A hashtag (if you’re using one)
  • One to two sentences explaining your fundraiser

Now that you know what to post, it’s also important to know when to post. Make sure to send out information about your campaign as soon as you create it. You can also send updates throughout the duration of your fundraiser to keep your campaign in your donors’ minds.

Additionally, remind people to donate a week and 24 hours before the end of your fundraiser.

Writing Letters

Sending direct mail or email is a great way for individuals and nonprofits to solicit donations. Letters give you the opportunity to explain your cause in more depth than a post or tweet would.

Additionally, a letter can be more formal if you’re asking foundations or local businesses to contribute.

It’s important to be specific when you explain why you’re raising funds. Explain your connection to the cause; the more personal you can be, the better the chance you have of persuading someone to give.

If you’re not sure what to write in your letters, here is a list of elements to include:

  • Address the recipient by name.
  • Introduce yourself (explain your connection to the cause and why you’re raising funds).
  • Describe your fundraiser.
  • Explain how the money will be used.
  • Give the recipient next steps (like directing them to your fundraiser’s page).

Don’t forget to encourage people to share your fundraiser with their friends and family members. Even if they can’t donate, sharing your campaign with others will help you reach even more people. You never know who might be interested in supporting you.

Bottom line: These best practices should help you connect with more people and reach your goal. Just remember to be personal and honest and provide potential donors with useful information.


Hopefully, these tips will help you raise funds to ease some of the financial, mental, and physical pressures that come with battling cancer.

For more ideas or tips on fundraising for cancer-related causes, check out these resources:

  • 83 Amazing Fundraising Ideas. Want more ways to fundraise for cancer treatment, research, or awareness? Check out our full list of ideas to figure out the perfect idea for your campaign.
  • Online Fundraising: An Ultimate Guide. Online fundraising is a quick and convenient way to receive funds. Learn more about all the ways you can accept donations online.
  • Fundraising Ideas for Medical and Health Expenses. If you need money to cover a surgery or another costly medical procedure, use these fundraising ideas to help you collect money fast.
  • Crowdfunding 101: The Ultimate Guide. Looking for more information on crowdfunding, a fast and easy online fundraising idea? Check out this guide for tips and strategies to get you started.
  • GoFundMe Alternatives. Many crowdfunding individuals and nonprofits have probably heard of GoFundMe, but did you know that there are tons of other crowdfunding platforms available? Discover more better-suited crowdfunding websites with this article.
  • Peer-to-Peer Fundraising Tools. Organizations often use peer-to-peer campaigns to raise money for cancer research or awareness. If you want to use this lucrative fundraising method, check out our list of top peer-to-peer tools.
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