fundraising toolkit

One of the many truly devastating things about a cancer diagnosis is how expensive it is, and how destabilising it can feel to be thrown into financial worry on top of everything else. I still find it incredible that patients and their families have to fundraise but it’s happening every day in the UK and in lots of other countries. My fear was that we would never be able to raise enough, and that Stu could die sooner just because we couldn’t afford the drugs and treatments that he needed. Hopefully you will find the below information useful in your quest to access treatment that’s outside of standard of care.

Added to that they are likely medical treatments you would qualify for if you lived in a different country or had a different cancer.

Appealing to the drug companies for compassionate use feels like such a rollercoaster, you have hope and then its dashed if you are turned down which we were multiple times. NICE guidelines keep the NHS under very tight control as does each CCG and getting the evidence together to prove you need the drug to stay alive can sometimes feel more daunting than the thought of taking a drug that the NHS wont prescribe. 

If you’re up against a hard to treat diagnosis the drugs needed may only be available privately and it can feel like an extra battle that people who can’t afford expensive drugs have to add to an already extraordinarily lengthy list

However, you don’t have to struggle alone. As confronting as it can be to put yourself out there financially, fundraising and crowdfunding will give so many people who have been desperate to find ways to help a way in. For us personally we found it incredibly difficult. Repeatedly our friends told us to put pride aside and they took a lot of the burden away from us by writing the initial crowdfunding appeal from their perspective. 

Crowdfunding not only provides the finances but it also enables people far and wide to support you emotionally. 

Even if someone cannot donate, simply sharing your link and spreading awareness is a way of helping. 

What’s the saying – a problem shared is a problem halved? Getting a group of friends and family together to help you manage the fundraising is the most important first step. It’ll help to spread the message and give you extra pools of friendship groups to reach. 

gather your crew


perfect the tone of your message

Putting your story and what you need from people on paper is not easy. Don’t rush it, and ask for second and third opinions from friends before you put it out there. You might find, as we did, that it’s actually easier for the initial message if your friends or family write it for you, from their perspective. While things were still very new and very raw, this felt like a slightly easier way to ask for the funds. For us, over time the narrative changed back to us but it was always a group effort.

When you do put pen to paper, try to stay as clear, honest and open as you can. Don’t be afraid to be vulnerable, but try to keep to the specifics as much as you can. Include details about the medical condition, the treatment you are seeking outside of the NHS, all the expenses and how much their help will make a difference to your life.



Include photos and videos to build a sense of connection with anyone who finds your page, whether friends, acquaintances or total strangers. Seeing your face and getting to know snapshots of your life will help people to empathise and let them know what you’re up against. Show you with your family in everyday happy life – people will be able to picture themselves in your desperate situation. Showing vulnerability may feel manipulative but it’s vital that people understand what you are facing, because behind anyone asking to help raise money for medical treatment is the most desperate and scared family.

The images that we used for our fundraising campaign should be some of my favourite photos from our wedding and Stu’s 40th but they have become a deep reminder of what those photos were used for. To save my husbands life. 

show who you are

I know that a social media presence is not for everyone, and before we were in the hideous spotlight cancer threw on us I would barely use it, except to occasionally send birthday messages and perhaps upload the odd picture every so often. However, when it comes to crowdfunding, social media is the KEY way to spread the word and get more people aware of your situation and what you need. You’ll feel like you’re in people’s faces or being too noisy or insistent, but it often takes several reminders to get people to part with money, even if they’re super keen from the start.

Include the link in your Instagram bio so that people can click on it at any time. Simply including it as text in your captions isn’t enough as it won’t be clickable – you need to make things as easy as possible for people to access the page and donate.

Set up a page on Instagram and Facebook if you’re not keen to share on your personal profile. This creates a dedicated space for you to share daily/weekly updates as well as fundraising goals and new photos, and can be a good way to stop you from feeling like you’re talking about it too much / invading people’s space with constant updates on your personal feed. To be honest, my feeling is that more is more, and that having the link available and visible in as many places as you can is the way forward. It’s uncomfortable, yes, but it also could be a matter of life and death. It deserves to be shared as far and wide as possible.

Add the link as an active link on Instagram stories so that people can easily click through to donate or share.

Include the link on all Facebook posts as the link is active within the text on that platform.

Include snippets and key details in your social media posts and direct people back to your fundraising platform for the full update.

Ask your friends, family colleagues and social media contacts to share your appeal so that your story reaches their network. It doesn’t always occur to people to share the link.

get active
on social media


At the beginning of all this I thought it would be impossible to get into the media, I thought “who is going to be interested in our story” – but they were and we wouldn’t have been able to raise so much without the help of several people, journalists and media outlets.

We were put in touch with a very lovely and empathetic freelance journalist called Matt who got Stus story into The Daily Mail, The Mirror and then Womens and Bella magazine. We were also approached by two people from South West News Service which is an independent press agency.

We also spoke to lovely Emily from Brain Tumour Research who was writing up Stu's story to share on their socials, they often share stories to raise awareness and share your fundraising link. 

The more articles you can get our there with your crowdfunding link the better plus each article gives you a new post to highlight your campaign.

get into the media



Not wanting to add to your already epic to-do list but if you can update your crowdfunding and social media pages when key milestones are reached – whether that’s a fundraising amount being achieved or a new cycle of treatment starting – engaging with your followers will help to push the page back into the forefront of peoples minds and even if they can’t donate again they could share your page.

update as often as practical

Giving updates with results and photos will make everyone who has contributed feel part of the team which is hugely important in keeping the momentum going. Its also an opportunity to ask people to share your page each time to spread the word.


In the beginning we tried to send personal thank you’s for each donation but quickly ran out of steam because we couldn’t thank in real time and with everything else going on we decided to schedule the thank you’s through the platform. The platforms we used have the choice to send an automatic personalised thank you message after each donation which I would definitely utilise – a good thing to include is asking your supporters to spread the word about your fundraiser to their friends and family.

the thank yous

ready to get started?


We were very fortunate that a group of our friends and family formed a fundraising committee. They put their heads together and took the pressure of us massively by organising all sorts of activities. Taking on the logistics as well as getting the message out there. Other friends, family and new friends we have never met took on challenges to raise funds for us. 

We want to introduce you to these AMAZING people and perhaps their fun-draising ideas will spark something in someone you know to take up a challenge.

We are so grateful to everyone who helped us raise funds for Stu's treatment. Thank you so much!!



some useful templates

One of the fundraising ideas we came up with was '1000 stars for Stu' - it was started because some of the children who know Stu wanted to do something to help so we designed the '1000 stars for Stu' sponsorship pack.

It was very children focused and came with instructions on how to stay safe while doing 1000 star jumps in a month, ideas for how to maximise their sponsorship reach, a sponsorship form, an online group fundraising page and information to share with the kind people who sponsored them about why they were taking on the challenge. 

We have now turned this into a template so that you can download it into canva, fill in the sections that personalise the pack and then start your own 1000 stars for your loved one. 

The templates are ready to download and personalise here

more coming soon 

life after



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There will be so much more in the diary - COMING SOON