Being faced with unexpected medical bills can be incredibly worrying, especially in the current economic climate. If you or someone you care for has been in an accident or taken ill, and is faced with a medical bill that insurance won’t cover, crowdfunding may be your best option. Here, we will look at some of the best crowdfunding sites for medical bills.
According to Census.Gov approximately 9.1% or 32 million Americans were without healthcare insurance in 2018. Even those who do, may find that their policy doesn’t cover certain conditions or treatments. Because of this, crowdfunding campaigns to cover medical expenses are increasingly common.
Crowdfunding sites dedicated to medical fundraising such as MedGift.Org are gaining traction. GoFundMe, a large crowdfunding site for any cause reports that a third of the campaigns launched on their platform are for medical expenses. It’s easy to understand why, given that health policies can cost thousands of dollars per year, and have high deductibles. If someone falls ill and finds themselves needing costly care; turning to friends, family and kind strangers for help, crowdfunding is an increasingly popular and viable option.
The crowdfunding landscape can be competitive and difficult. How can you ensure that your campaign is accepted by the sites, that it gets noticed and that enough people are willing to contribute given that they may have challenges of their own, and that they might be faced with requests for aid from several people in their social groups?
The following tips will help you ensure that you have the best possible chances at success with your medical fundraising campaign.
If you want to get a positive response from your crowdfunding campaign, you should make sure that it is concise, well written and nicely presented. Every site has its own rules, so make sure that you use a platform that is trusted with an established track record and that you understand its rules and campaign requirements.
Ask someone you trust to put the request together for you. Choose someone who writes well, and can tell your story clearly and properly. An outside perspective helps a lot when writing a funding request, and having someone else doing the ‘work’ will allow the patient to focus on recovery.
Medical matters can sometimes be rather personal, but you must be willing to describe your story and your specific needs if you campaign is to be successful. Communicating honestly and openly about the situation, can and will help people connect to your cause. This is important especially if you are needing to raise a large sum of money, since you will likely be hoping for donors from outside your immediate circle of friends.
Include photos to build trust, and to help people to understand your story. Photos of yourself, or the person benefitting from the campaign (if it is not you). The importance of photos can not be overstated so be sure to pick colorful, engaging images. can help as can photos of medical bills.
Share the campaign on social media so that friends, family and acquaintances can see it. According to MedGift.Org your support community should be as large as possible and at a minimum should include facebook friends, email contacts and twitter followers. You can also share the URL for your campaign via posters and other means. And also, besure to ask those in your support community to share the campaign with their friends and family. If you are able, reach out to the local media as well. Get as much support as you can, so that the campaign has a chance of spreading widely.
As you start to get donations, the people who donated will want to know how you are getting along. Take the time to provide updates on social media or the campaign page, and say thank you to everyone who donated. If you are able to do so, personally send thank-you letters or emails. This will be very much appreciated by the people who took the time to give.
Some people want to remain anonymous when they are raising funds but it’s not recommended. It’s easy to understand why this might be the case. A person may not want their employer or co-workers knowing that they are unwell; or simply just do not want certain people in their immediate circle to know, that they have had to go out and seek funds in this way. Practically speaking, most successful campaigns are based on donations from personal support communities (friends, friends of friends and family). Donating to campaigns where you do not have some connection with the campaign beneficiary can be risky and probably should be avoided. Buyer beware.
Reputable crowdfunding sites for medical expenses require that a person attach their real name to their account, and show it in their campaign (for transparency reasons). Their main goal is to protect donors from donating to fraudulent campaigns.
There are smaller sites that allow you to request ‘gifts’, and do not require full names to be shown on the campaign page. For example, Deposit a Gift (depositagift.com), allows people to set up funding pages and collect donations. A person asking for donations towards cancer treatment, could say that they need funds for medication, hospital stays and chemotherapy. A donor could choose to either contribute to a general pot or towards a specific expense, knowing that their contribution has made a real difference. This could mean that person being able to pay for a month’s worth of prescription medication. MedGift (medgift.org) has gift registry where, in addition to money, specific items can be requested (wheelchair etc).
In general, being open and communicating with your friends and family, is more likely to lead to a good number of donations. Anonymous crowdfunding campaigns are susceptible to fraud so reputable sites do not allow them. A certain amount of humility is required to ask for help, which is a good thing and crowdfunding allows you to state exactly what you need. In this way those wanting to help do not have to guess on the specific needs.
GiveForward was a popular online fundraising tool that launched in 2008. At the time, it was incredibly innovative. It helped people to raise money for causes they cared about, while initially being used for organizations. It quickly became a popular platform for people who were looking to raise money for a loved one’s medical expenses.
The Chicago Tribune picked up on the website, and highlighted it as “The future of medical fundraising in the Internet Age”.
The site was ahead of its time, and eventually went on to become a part of GoFundMe. GoFundMe is today one of the biggest, if not the biggest of the open online fundraising platforms.
MedGift takes the guesswork out of how one can help. Through a MedGift support page, those experiencing a health-related journey can list their financial, physical and emotional needs. This allows friends and family to select the areas they can help them with, including specific items listed in a personalized “registry”.
MedGift’s support platform offers fundraising to cover medical and daily expenses, calendaring to organize help for day-to-day life, and wish lists for specific needs such as a wig or wheelchair. Users can share updates on progress, post photos, and receive encouragement and support from their community. In addition, with a MedGift support page updates can be posted for visitors to track the progress of the health journey and leave well-wishes for the beneficiary.
Medgift is a 501c3 not-for-profit organization that depends solely on donations while all campaigns are 100% free. It was inspired and cofounded by Diem Brown, a regular participant in MTV’s The Challenge Series, making it arguably one of the pioneers in medical crowdfunding. Diem eventually lost her fight with Ovarian Cancer but wanted others to benefit from her experience. MedGift represents her learnings and teachings.
GoFundMe( GFM) is a popular platforms for fundraising of all kinds of campaigns. Whether you want to self-fund your personal vision quest, botox injections, disaster relief efforts or medical fundraising GFM can be used. It is used for disaster relief efforts, requests for support from young athletes, or those who are looking to take on something big.
GoFundMe allows people to set up campaigns for themselves, or for others to set up a fund on their behalf. Users set a fundraising goal, publicize their funds and can then receive money. There are no fees for using the platform, and the platform is trusted by donors because it is so well known. Unlike some funds, users can withdraw money at any time. Making a withdrawal will not affect the progress meter that is shown on the campaign. There is also no need for a campaign to reach its goal. So, if a hypothetical user had a fund goal to cover the cost of medical treatment for a broken leg, and surgery could cost $25,000 or more; even if only $20,000 is raised, they can still withdraw those funds.
There are no time limits on how long a GoFundMe can run. Users do not have to set a limit on the donations that come in either. So, if the previously mentioned person with a broken leg raised $35,000, they could withdraw the extra to spend on other accrued charges (i.e-physiotherapy, crutches, or other extras for their treatment). They could also donate the extra to a charity if they so wish.
Users can keep campaigns open for as long as they want, or close them out once they no longer need donations. GoFundMe is open to people starting campaigns for any reason, and welcomes users who are looking for help with medical expenses.
If you decide to use GoFundMe for medical expenses, remember that the site allows campaign organizers to come back and update their page whenever they wish. Donors can leave messages and comments, and ask campaign organizers questions. It’s a good idea to post regularly with messages of thanks, updates on the beneficiary’s medical condition and updates on the progress of the campaign. Responding to questions could convert someone who is unsure about the idea of crowd-funding, into an enthusiastic donor.
GoFundMe allows users to donate as much or as little as they like. Some donors may only donate a few dollars, while others may donate much more. This flexibility is what encourages some people to donate, to people that they may not know personally or in real life. Every dollar helps, and if a campaign goes viral, donations big or small; can make a significant difference in the contribution toward’s someone’s medical expenses.
JustGiving.com is another popular crowd-funding platform, that welcomes users looking to raise money for health and medical expenses. It is open to people starting large or small campaigns. So whether the goal is to fund prescriptions, dental costs, travel to and from hospitals or hospital bills, the platform is an option.
Unlike GoFundMe, JustGiving takes a small fee out of any funds raised. The site is trusted and well-regarded, so many people choose it because they feel they are more likely to get successfully get donations.
If your fundraising campaign does not meet its goal, you can still withdraw the funds that you managed to raise. You also have the option of extending the crowd-funding project in an attempt to attract more donations.
JustGiving takes a lot of steps to protect donors; including verifying the identity of people who set up crowd-funding pages. JustGiving requires a background check for any history of fraud or money laundering. This means that people can donate with confidence. It also means that anyone who wants to use JustGiving to raise money, should be willing and know that they must provide their ID before they can receive any funds.
Across the United States, in 2016, crowd-funding campaigns across the major networks raised $738.9 billion. That figure is obviously higher today, as the sector continues to grow. With so many people launching crowd-funding campaigns, it’s clear that for a campaign to succeed it has to stand out.
JustGiving allows people to launch campaigns that meet their criteria of “For Good, For All, and For the Community”. Medical expenses fall into the “For Good” category, but there are some restrictions. If you plan on using JustGiving for medical expenses, you must make sure that any drugs you are using are prescribed by a licensed medical practitioner, and that any facility in which you are treated is licensed too. The site does not support users who are seeking more unorthodox, unlicensed treatments. There could be a safety risk associated with them.
Before you launch a campaign, have someone look at the main sites. Be sure to read their terms, and think about which one would suit you best. Consider which sites people in your community are most familiar with, use and which sites the local media tend to talk about the most. If you write an interesting and authentic campaign and get attention from the right people, you could find that the amount of support you get is incredible. Your worries about medical debts vanish overnight, allowing you and your loved ones to focus on recuperating, recovering and spending quality time together.
When you’re in a position to do so, don’t forget to pay it forward, and donate to someone else in need.
MedGift Advocacy Services, Inc. is a 501c3 non-profit organization, classified as a public charity and is registered in the State of Georgia under EIN 81-4017965.