As The New York Times reported in January, many patients are turning to crowdfunding to raise money for major or unforeseen medical expenses. Crowdfunding sites are jumping on the bandwagon in droves, rapidly adding medical fundraising options to their existing rosters of services.
At HelpHOPELive, we’ve been helping patients fundraise since 1983. As new digital fundraising options emerge, it’s important for all potential fundraisers to understand exactly how crowdfunding works. While crowdfunding looks like an easy way to raise money quickly, make sure you consider these factors before you dive in.
Myth 1: Donations to my cause will be protected.
Many modern crowdfunding platforms do not include a way for donors to verify that the money they donate will be spent on a patient’s medical costs. In fact, as Charity Navigator warns, some people routinely exploit crowdfunding sites and manipulate donors in order to misuse donations for their own purposes.
HelpHOPELive tracks and verifies all donations, but if you work with a crowdfunding platform, donors that you contact may feel justifiably uncertain about donating to a cause without any sort of guarantee that their contributions will be collected and utilized to cover legitimate expenses.
Myth 2: I can keep my Medicaid coverage.
Donations you receive through HelpHOPELive fundraising will never endanger your Medicaid coverage. If you work with a crowdfunding platform, however, you may risk losing your benefits.
When Medicaid eligibility is determined, donations you receive through a crowdfunding platform will be counted as assets. The limit for “countable assets” to qualify for Medicaid is only $2,000. In other words, if you net more than $2,000 in donations through a crowdfunding platform, you may lose your access to Medicaid and incur sky-high additional expenses for your treatment.
Myth 3: Donors will naturally donate additional funds over time.
You may believe that your only obligation is to set up a crowdfunding site and wait for the donations to roll in. In reality, as the New York Times reported, most donors will not give to the same cause multiple times unless they clearly understand the link between their donation and a particular outcome for a patient.
Successful fundraising is a long-term process, not a short-term frenzy. While crowdfunding sites may generate initial buzz, you will likely need to raise money for medical costs throughout your lifetime. Donors tend to be reluctant to donate multiple times to the same cause, but HelpHOPELive can help you to fundraise creatively to increase the chances of repeat donations.
Myth 4: Strangers will donate to my cause.
Crowdfunding platforms may make it seem like virtual strangers will readily donate to your cause once you sign on. In most cases, the vast majority of donations to your cause are going to come from people you already know.
You can spread the word by leveraging your existing social circles, including extended family members, community organizations, places of worship and other potential donation sources.
Myth 5: Crowdfunding is free.
No fundraising effort is entirely cost free. HelpHOPELive charges 5% for operational costs with a 2.65% credit card fee* as applicable and no additional per-transaction fees. Medical fundraising fees will differ by provider, and as The New York Observer reported in 2014, some fundraisers have been unpleasantly surprised by the operating costs and donation fees deducted by crowdfunding platforms. Be sure you understand the associated costs before you choose a network to rely on for fundraising.
–GoFundMe: 7.9% charge + $0.30 transaction fee (in the U.S.)
–GiveForward: 7.9% charge + $0.50 transaction fee
–Fundly: 4.9% charge + 3% credit card fees
–Indiegogo: 9% fee + third party processing fees of 3-5% (platform fee decreases to 4% only if you meet your fundraising goal)
So what can I do to raise money? Fundraising through HelpHOPELive is the most secure and supported method for raising money to cover your medical expenses. You receive the full benefit of over three decades of fundraising expertise, and your donors can rest easy knowing that every dollar they donate will be tracked and allocated responsibly. To learn more about fundraising with HelpHOPELive, click here.
* Effective October 1, 2016.