Alberta Cancer Foundation


Crowdsourcing is when you engage your friends and followers, seeking their opinions or answers

  • “Where’s the best curry in YYC?”
  • “Where can I get a great wig after chemo?”
  • “Where can I find cheap parking near the Tom Baker?”

Crowdfunding is the lovechild of crowdsourcing and grassroots fundraising

The National Crowdfunding Association of Canada (NCFA) defines crowdfunding as “the raising of funds through the collection of small contributions from the general public using the Internet and social media.”

Crowdfunding, according to NCFA, has the “ability to harness the power of online communities to extend a project’s promotion and financing opportunities.” It most often engages single investors who might want to raise seed money for a project or business startup. But not-for-profits do it, too.

  • “Hey, have you heard about #bryansangels?”
  • “I’m climbing 30 sets to raise money for Bryan’s Angel’s benefiting @albertacancer”
  • “Who’s free next week? I’m selling tickets to a silent auction in support of @albertacancer. A steal at $20!”

Crowdsourcing + Crowdfunding have a role in cancer research, care and support
They both call on the “the broader concept of an individual reaching a goal by receiving and leveraging small contributions from many parties,” according to NCFA.


Crowdsourcing a Cure
Cancer Research UK is tapping the collective. At, it’s posting slides of tumour samples, arming citizen scientists with a little knowledge and asking them to categorize cancer cells. The goal is to speed review of the samples, identifying characteristics that will give researchers clues about treating similar tumours in the future.

How To plan a fundraising event using crowdsourcing and crowdfunding. Michelle Ponich, co-chair of Bryan’s Angels (, tells you how it’s done

  1. Brand creation: find a hook. “Our event is a companion to the Bryan Mudryk Golf Classic. One of our team members is a photographer, so she took pictures of us in angel wings and we use those to brand our event, which is stair climbing in Edmonton’s river valley – enough stairs to reach heaven’s gate!”
  2. Don’t forget email. Facebook and Twitter are great, but email can add a personal touch. “That said, we send email through the Alberta Cancer Foundation to give people a choice and to make it simple to donate,” Ponich says.
  3. Tell a story. “Write some personal words about why this cause is important to you,” Ponich says. “Talk about who, specifically, has motivated you to raise money.”

The Brief Story of Salvatore Iaconesi
Italian artist Salvatore Iaconesi hacked his own medical records and posted everything online, inviting people to contribute to curing his brain tumour. He got a wide-ranging education, inspired debate and motivated other artists to create.

Join the crowd:  Get started on your own crowdfunding project
The Alberta Cancer Foundation’s Bobbi Wolbeck, assistant director of annual giving, has some crowdfunding for not-for-profits advice.

“You can’t do it alone. Pull together a committee of people with a variety of skills. Keep your fundraiser simple and start small. Have a wonderful event that people will look forward to next year. Just talk to people. If you’re excited about it, they will be. Social media is great, but access your real-life networks at the office, the soccer field, the gym, and elsewhere. Sit down with us first and we’ll help you accomplish your goals. Contact me at my email or 780-643-4338.”