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Finding the Funds for AEDs

Finding the Funds

How to Raise Money for AEDs

Automated external defibrillators (AEDs) can have a dramatic, lifesaving impact in organizations and communities. In many places, AEDs have saved lives within weeks, or even days, of being put into service. Once people recognize the difference AEDs can make, and that the life they may one day save could be that of a family member, coworker or friend, support and enthusiasm for your fundraising program will likely take off. You can easily turn the enthusiasm into financial support if needed. Private donations can supplement or seed municipal or state budgets to get the program started.

 Because AEDs are relatively inexpensive, purchasing one or two devices is well within the fundraising abilities of most organizations. If your goal is a community-wide AED program there may be someone who can fund multiple devices. Enlist the aid of a prominent business leader or citizen to challenge his or her peers to get involved.

People who have survived cardiac arrest are often the best spokespeople to help raise funds for AEDs. We frequently talk with survivors who are articulate, enthusiastic and eager to share their experience. Even those saved by paramedics using manual defibrillators can help promote the need for early CPR and defibrillation. It is hard to say “no” when you are face to face with someone who was literally brought back to life.

Many automated external defibrillator (AED) programs are funded through budgets. The nonprofit or other agency may simply decide to include the costs of AED program implementation in their budget because they recognize the importance of early CPR and defibrillation. In some situations it is necessary to pursue additional funding sources. If this is the case for your program, there are several funding sources to consider.

Local corporations and businesses

Corporations may donate to charitable causes through corporate giving programs, company- sponsored foundations or both. Corporate giving is often directed to programs that benefit employees and their families or the community. Businesses can be one of the best funding sources for AED programs.

When considering whom to approach for funding in your community, consider large retailers, insurance companies, public utilities, corporate headquarters, grocery stores, car dealerships, hospitals, cardiologists and others as potential sources of support.

Local Civic Organizations

Many civic organizations have funds available for community service initiatives and are very approachable. Often, a letter or presentation at a meeting may be all that is needed to help generate funds. Look in the phone book, do a web search or check with your local Chamber of Commerce for civic organizations in your community.

Local chapters of groups such as Rotary, Elks, Lions and Kiwanis Clubs, American Legions, VFWs (Veterans of Foreign Wars), and hospital foundations and auxiliaries are often seeking new ways to help local citizens.

Private Foundations

Private foundations are nongovernmental, nonprofit organizations with funds maintained to serve the common good, primarily by providing grants to other nonprofit organizations. Some libraries enable you to access the Foundation Center’s Database. There are 70,000 – 100,000 foundations and numerous grant opportunities available nationwide.

Examples of foundations include the Medtronic Heart Rescue Program, Tenet Healthcare, Bridgestone/Firestone, Ford, Allstate, Bank One, Wells Fargo, Blue Cross/Blue Shield

Public Charities

Public charities receive their funds from the general public. Their goal is to enhance the quality of life in the local community. Look for community foundations in your area in the same ways recommended above for finding local civic organizations.

Examples of community foundations include the Minneapolis Community Foundation, Denver Community Foundation and others.

Government Grants

The federal government spends about $1 trillion a year on domestic programs. The money filters through state agencies for redistribution at the local level. Grant funds can be found both at the federal and state level.

Typically, funding for emergency medical services (EMS) programs can be found in the following agencies: Department of Health, Department of Transportation, Department of Justice, Department of Public Safety, Office of EMS, Department of Education, and the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Check the Catalog of Domestic Assistance for grant opportunities at


Some entities raise money for AED programs by planning fundraising events. While such efforts can be time consuming, they can also be very effective as well as help bring people together and raise awareness about sudden cardiac arrest and AEDs.

Examples of fundraisers include marathons, golf tournaments, letter campaigns to area businesses, raffles of donated items, breakfast or dinner events, holiday events, a refreshment stand at local sports event, bake sales, and bingo games, among others.

Local Business Sponsorships

Enlist the aid of a local champion who is a recognized leader in the business community. Ask him or her to challenge other local businesses to each donate enough money to purchase one or two (or more) AEDs.

Fundraising Tips

  • Use the “Keep the Beat” brochure to raise awareness about SCA and AEDs among those you will approach for donations.
  • Fundraising efforts are generally more successful if you ask for a specific sum of money, as the person may give you less than you ask for, because rarely will they give more. You may want to identify several different donation levels at set ranges ($25-99, $100-199, $200- 299, etc.) and name each level (silver, gold, platinum, etc.)
  • Offer to recognize donors’ contributions. Some donors choose to remain anonymous, but most people like to see some recognition of their gifts whether their name is listed in a quarterly newsletter or on a plaque.
  • Donors often want to know if their gifts are tax deductible. There may be an established charitable organization in your community through which donations can be made. Their tax advisor and those charitable organizations can help them determine whether or not their gift is tax deductible.
  • If may help with some donors to know where the AEDs will be placed after they are purchased. If you are fundraising for a school or business, you may have plans to eventually have enough AEDs to reach anyone in your facility or on your campus so that a shock may be given within the 3-5 minute window recommended by the American Heart Association. Keep in mind difficult-to-access, restricted or remote locations that may also need AED coverage.
  • If you are fundraising for a community-wide program, your priority may first be to place AEDs in police cars, and then in public facilities such as city hall and stadiums. If you do not have a plan for where the devices will be placed, some donors may be reluctant to participate.

Fundraising Checklist

  • Designate a fundraising leader, form a committee and designate responsibilities
  • Champion the AED program and raise awareness among relevant community representatives and groups, using the brochure and other materials from Keep the Beat
  • Assess how many AEDs are needed and where they’ll do the most good
  • Assess availability of training and estimate costs
  • Develop a target goal for your fundraising, based on the above assessments
  • Announce fundraising activities to appropriate audiences
  • Distribute a fundraising letter, flyer and/or email as appropriate to potential donors
  • Plan and conduct your event
  • Get ready for the next step: purchasing AEDs, conducting CPR/AED training, and implementing your AED program

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