Online fundraising grows for both hospitals and patients

Online fundraising to pay for patient care and defray related expenses continues to grow rapidly, both personally and among hospitals.

GiveForward, a website that focuses on medical-related fundraising, has helped 15,000 patients raise more than $20 million to date this year, according to Kaiser Health News. In its first full year of operation between 2008 and 2009, it had raised $229,000 for 359 patients.

Other kinds of fundraising ventures have also started up, such as the Rare Genomics Institute, which helps patients raise the approximately $10,000 required to perform gene sequencing of patients with rare genetic disorders, data which could lead to targeted therapies. According to Kaiser, few insurance carriers cover that expense.

Such fundraising is often more successful when patients create personal stories about themselves and their medical conditions, generating enough interest to draw donations outside of their immediate families, Kaiser Health News reported.

Hospitals have made similar adjustments, according to the Chronicle of Philanthropy. The Seattle Children's Hospital Foundation has been able to raise money online by allowing current and former patients to create personal pages as part of its philanthropic website. In one case, parents of a Seattle Children's Hospital patient were able to raise $67,000. In another, the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center received a $1 million donation online.

However, online fundraising does have some drawbacks: Kaiser Health News reported that if a patient is enrolled in Medicaid, the money could be counted as income and jeopardize his or her eligibility.

To learn more:
- read the Kaiser Health News article
- check out the Chronicle of Philanthropy article