23 Fundraising Ideas: Health & Medical Research Nonprofits

23 Hale and Hearty Fundraising Ideas for Health and Medical Research Nonprofits

March 21, 2023
9 minutes
A red, beating heart sits on a dark background with a turquoise heartbeat line through it.

Everyone can relate to the sticker shock of medical bills, but none more so than health and medical research nonprofits. Turns out that curing the world’s literal ills costs a pretty penny. Luckily, there’s a whole community out there eager to support your compassion and innovation—you just need to connect with them through some hale and hearty fundraisers.

Here’s everything you need to know to raise funds for your medical nonprofit organization—and to stay fit as a fiddle while doing so.

5 health and medical research fundraising examples

When it comes to fundraising for medical nonprofits, hope is at the heart of everything. These health and medical research fundraising examples inspired us to believe in a healthier and happier future for patients everywhere. We hope they’ll put a spring in your step, too.

KarmaIsACat.org (purring on our laps)

A website with a raffle for two tickets to see Taylor Swift

“Life isn't how to survive the storm, it's about how to dance in the rain.” One of our most beloved—and creative—customers, The Chick Mission’s mission is to preserve fertility after a cancer diagnosis. Their best strategy is listening to their supporters and making giving delightful, like with this fundraiser raffling off two tickets to Taylor Swift’s sold out The Eras Tour.

By using Funraise’s ticketing tool, it’s easy for supporters to not only up their chances of winning entry to the most in-demand show of the season, but also to pay it forward. Plus, what a genius use of custom url! lolpurr

Ask with all your <3

A peer-to-peer fundraising page on the American Heart Association website

NBD, just lil’ ol’ American Heart Association promoting peer-to-peer as a way to Raise Your Way. The red, logo, background image, and progress bar are all on-brand and easy to accomplish with Funraise’s custom campaign sites. <3

Abandonment Issues

Cascade AIDS Project website with impact cards

We love Cascade AIDS Project’s on-target and sleek impact cards; there are even levels that provide pet care for a year or summer camp for kids impacted by HIV/AIDS. But the ultimate shortcut is the abandoned cart reminder that follows web visitors around the site and greets them when they come back to play.

Plus… Funraise’s donation form conversion rate is 50%. Yep, website visitors who interact with a Funraise donation form complete a donation 50% of the time. So when you make every page into a donation form, and then have the donation form follow them around… your conversions are gonna stick around.

Make the (up)grade

A donation form with recurring donor upgrade

Fight Colorectal Cancer puts the focus on recruiting recurring donors through Funraise’s recurring upgrade feature on their donation form. With one additional step, donors are at once encouraged to increase their support over time and also shown that your nonprofit is seeking a relationship, not just a donation.

In part due to this feature, organizations using Funraise grow recurring revenue 52% on average. The predictable income that recurring programs provide leads to overall growth and increased impact, helping your nonprofit make the grade.

Eventful fundraisers

A event ticketing form featuring Uncle Sam with a command to reserve your ticket

Dance for the health of it! Beginning with a dance-off challenge between two local celebrities in 2010 (!!), Health For All’s annual event is “a fundraiser and a dance competition rolled into one”, and looks like a lot of fun! Who says healthcare has to be boring or scary?

23 fundraising ideas for health-focused nonprofits for 2023

Some people donate to medical nonprofits to fund the next ground-breaking medical discovery, while others want to support equitable health and health care. There’s the hope for life-saving treatments and the desire to make a difference for our front-line workers. Whatever your goal, fundraising is the best medicine, so take two (or five*) and call us in the morning.

*We’re not doctors, so five might be too many fundraising ideas.

1. Inspirational calendar

Rather than another calendar full of stock images of flowers and mountains, invite community members to submit their own inspirational photos for a calendar full of arresting and affecting moments. For every one sold, hang one on the wall of a patient’s room or a healthcare provider’s office.

2. Community gallery opening

Brighten spirits and hallways with an art show while raising funds for your facility. Ask the Picassos among your staff, patients, and their families to donate uplifting art. Then, host an opening night reception where people can admire and bid on the art. No taking your masterpiece home until it’s been up for a few months so that everyone can enjoy it!

3. Healthy cocktail/mocktail tasting

While we love pina coladas (and getting caught in the rain, now that you mention it), most cocktails aren’t exactly the healthiest option. Host a healthy cocktail tasting, with boozy smoothies, rum-spiked golden milk, and wine-green tea sparklers. Or keep it alcohol-free and add zero-proof spirits, which are all the rage these days.

4. Holistic wellness event

Whatever your organization’s area of focus, there are bound to be certain symptoms and side effects specific to that syndrome. Host an event to spread awareness and share mitigation measures, with guest speakers, panels, and tools. If you really want to up attendance, don’t forget the swag!

5. National Folic Acid Awareness Week

Ah yes, a holiday classic: National Folic Acid Awareness Week. If you’re missing the holidays come January, don’t fret: on January 2, you can embrace this week-long celebration of the importance of folic acid, which helps the body maintain its cells and also create new ones. What’s more worthy of celebration than that??

Sample social media copy: New year got you down? Remember that we have so much to be thankful for—like trees, friends, and folic acid! That’s right, it’s #nationalfolicacidawarenessweek, when we celebrate all things B9. Join us for a week of broccoli, beans, and beets—and a little Battlestar Galactica, too, while we're at it.

6. Community garden

Fresh air is the best medicine (except maybe Sudafed—that stuff’s amazing), so making a communal garden the perfect fundraising project for your hospital. Visitors and staff alike can pitch in to create a beautiful, calming space, perfect for healing the body and soothing the mind.

7. Memorial plaques

Once you have a beautiful garden, let friends and family purchase memorial plaques for loved ones as well as thank you plaques for caretakers who went above and beyond. Surround each plaque with fresh soil and build a small tool library. Then, invite folks to come by and plant whatever flowers they’d like.

8. Breath of fresh air

Another P2P walk-a-thon? Been there, done that. But a P2P for skydiving? That’s something exciting. Host a peer-to-peer skydiving fundraiser for all your daredevil supporters: they commit to jumping out of a plane; supporters donate $5 to see them do it. As a bonus, it’s a bucket-list item for many of us, so patients can join in, too! After all, if we’ve learned anything in the medical field, it’s YOLO.

Sample social media copy: At [org name], we know more than anyone the importance of seizing every day. Check one item off your bucket list—and help support life-saving cancer treatments—with our skydiving fundraiser. Every person who takes the leap gives back.

9. Dried flower workshop

Patients at medical facilities receive so many beautiful bouquets, a reminder of how many people care about them. Host a workshop on how to preserve and display flower arrangements so that patients and their family members can keep those warm memories alive.

10. Go beyond gratitude

The best ambassadors for all the good you’re doing are your clients, and when it comes to medical fundraising, those clients are grateful patients. Get former and current patients involved as donors and ambassadors for your organization through a cohesive social media strategy that shares patient success stories and gives them a platform to explain why they give in their own words.

11. Self-care pledge

We all have so many grand aspirations for self-care these days, and yet most of us are still burning the candle at both ends …and in the middle. (It’s a magic candle.) Create a list of 30-ish self-care must-do’s, from getting your flu shot to doing meditation to getting a facial. Participants pledge a certain amount for each one they do throughout the month—or each one they don’t do if they need an extra push.

12. Therapy puppypalooza

Therapy dogs, goats, and llamas are *chef’s kiss*, so the only real way to improve on that perfection is more dogs, goats, and llamas. For a donation, arrange for anyone to get covered in puppy kisses and llama sneezes, which we’re sure have curative powers.

13. Care for our caregivers

Our caregivers put so much of themselves into caring for their loved ones. It’s time to give some love back. Ask local restaurants to donate dinners, spas to donate wellness packs, or theaters to donate event tickets to help prevent burnout and promote self-care.

Sample social media copy: Our caregivers do so much for so many. Now, we want to do something for them. If you’re a local business, consider donating to our #wecareforcaregivers fundraiser. Gift cards, meals, wellness items, or event tickets are all welcome. Let’s show our caregivers how much we care!

14. Inclusivity-a-thon

Rally members of your community to make your space as accessible and inclusive as possible. Gender-neutral-ify those restrooms; ensure every space is wheelchair-friendly; and make sure all signs include large font and audio descriptions.

15. Everything in moderation bake sale

A bake sale is a classic fundraiser, but for health-focused nonprofits, it’s maybe not entirely on theme. To that we say: everything in moderation. Host an 80% healthy bake sale, with granola bars, black bean brownies, and fruit crumbles … as well as a few cheesecakes.

16. Language exchanges

In a medical setting, you get to meet people from all different backgrounds, many of whom don’t speak English as a first language. Take advantage of the opportunity to connect with different cultures and learn an invaluable skill with weekly language exchanges: ESL folks practice their English while their buddies learn a new language.

17. Sleep challenge

The average adult does best with 7-9 hours of sleep, but how many of us actually get that much? In this P2P fundraiser, supporters can contribute to a good night’s sleep. For every $100 raised, they’ll aim for eight hours of sleep. If they hit $1,000 total, they’ll sleep in until 10 am on the weekend. #livingthedream

18. National Patient Recognition Week

On February 1, we celebrate our patients, who are doing the hard work of healing and advocating for themselves. Consider highlighting a different patient’s story on your social media accounts every day of the week using #nationalpatientrecognitionweek.

19. Start the day off right

If you’re a morning person, yippity-doo-da-yay for you. (No, we’re not bitter at all.) For the rest of us, mornings are rough—but we can be the change! Host a daily walk or yoga session followed by a healthy breakfast for a full month. Entrance is by donation, and anyone who makes it every day gets a prize. (The prize is a yogurt, but still. It’s the thought that counts.)

20. Running Up That Hill dance-a-thon

Y’know that scene in Stranger Things S4 where Max is trying to escape Vecna while Kate Bush’s iconic "Running Up That Hill" plays in the background? If not, go watch it; we’ll wait. If yes, can you imagine a better fundraiser than two hours in a field with "Running Up That Hill" blasting at full volume while everyone dances like a maniac and also cries a little, in a cathartic sort of way? Yeah, it’s that good.

21. Ice Cream for Breakfast Day.

Because we like to mix things up, Ice Cream for Breakfast Day is the perfect excuse to live your best life and, well, eat a huge bowl of ice cream for breakfast. Advertise the event well and it’s sure to sell out—just don’t forget the whipped cream.

Sample social media copy: All work and no play makes all of us dull, so join us in celebrating #icecreamforbreakfastday! Tomorrow, we’ll be selling sweet, creamy goodness starting at 7:00 am, with all donations benefiting our ground-breaking work. We’ll also be delivering cones door-to-door for our patients, so if you have a special request, let us know!

22. Matcha tea ceremony

Matcha has so many health benefits, plus it’s mighty tasty in baked goods or warm drinks. Partner with your local Japanese tea shop or bakery to host a traditional Japanese matcha ceremony. Then, provide snacks and sips. If matcha’s too basic for you, switch it up with a hojicha tasting.

23. Vampire blood drive

Giving blood is so important, and also sooo not fun. But if you make it vampire-themed? OMG so fun. Drape the facility in cobwebs, give out red velvet cupcakes, and maybe have episodes of What We Do in the Shadows playing in the background. Boo-tiful!

Benefits of health and medical fundraising events

Virgil, an ancient Roman poet, once said, “The greatest wealth is health.” But Virgil clearly wasn’t working for a medical nonprofit, because good health often requires wealth—hence the need for health and medical fundraising. But beyond the finances, health fundraising events have a lot of other benefits. Read ‘em and get inspired.

  • Build healthy habits. These health-centric fundraisers are all about finding a cure and making an impact—and you can do that in ways big and small. For every healthy eating class or water-drink-a-thon, you’re building smart habits and cultivating a healthier community.
  • Showcase the wins. In medical research, big discoveries make headlines while all the small wins get buried. With fundraising events, you’ll have the opportunity to show off all the great work you’ve been doing.
  • Learn from the community. In healthcare, we want everyone to have access to the latest treatments while receiving the best care. A vital part of that is speaking directly with our community members to get their input and hear about their experiences. Fundraising events bring the whole community together so we can all learn from each other.
  • Boost morale. Healthcare workers, patients, and their loved ones put in long hours and do incredible emotional labor. Fundraising shows them that a lot of people have their back and want to help. In times like these, that can make all the difference.

Top tips for health-focused fundraising

Health and medical research fundraisers are good for the soul and good for the body. So, how can you make the most out of your next fundraising event? Start with the tips below.

  • Lean into the impact. A lot of people are concerned about financial waste around health-focused spending. Share numbers and stories to illustrate the impact of every donation.
  • Behold the power of P2P. Peer-to-peer fundraising is great, and it’s especially great for health fundraising, which is all about coming together to support people when they need it most.
  • Think big, think corporate. For the big-ticket items (new MRI machine, anyone?), turn to the big bucks: corporate America. Partnering with corporations is win-win: you get the funds to help others; corporations show that they care.
  • Stay in touch. Many donors give to a health nonprofit because the organization has directly impacted their or a loved one’s life. This makes it all the more important to stay in touch, answer any questions, and maintain that relationship over time.
  • Bring everyone in. Many health and medical research nonprofits are siloed from the rest of the organization. Get your whole staff involved, especially those on the front lines, to get fresh ideas and ensure everyone knows all the good work you’re doing behind the scenes.
  • Share your stories. Your patients, nurses, doctors, and caretakers are your magic. Share their stories (beautifully written, but of course) far and wide.

In the end, if you don’t have your health, you don’t have anything. Time for your health or medical research nonprofit to get fundraising, friend. After all, that cure could be right around the corner.

Health and medical research fundraising ideas: Key takeaways

  • Health and medical research nonprofits have a lot of expenses, making fundraising an important part of your strategy.
  • When it comes to donors, think outside the box. Turn to former patients for stories and support, then partner with corporations for more significant expenses.
  • Funds can go to ground-breaking discoveries and life-saving treatments as well as supporting the next generation of healthcare workers and pushing for more equitable care.
  • Fundraising events should be health-focused, upbeat, and centered on community and hope.
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