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Funding via Crowd Sourcing

Posted 3/28/2017

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  It is a real pleasure to share this information. My oncology social work colleague, Christina Bach, at UPenn wrote this and passed it along through our national Listserv. We are all painfully aware of the rising costs of cancer care. Insurance seems to cover less, and there are many other associated expenses that are not relevant at all to insurance. I, too, have talked a few times with patients about the possibility of crowd sourcing to raise money for cancer care, but Ms. Bach put together a really wonderful fact sheet.

Fundraising Using Crowdsourcing

Crowdsourcing is a method of fundraising that uses social media and networking to spread a story and gain support. Many families, when faced with mounting medical bills and challenges paying the costs of living as a result of illness, turn to crowdsourcing to help get the bills paid. 

Sharing your story is the key element to crowdsourcing. This includes identifying who the fundraiser will support and what the money will be used for.  Think about what information you want to include, and what level of detail you are comfortable with sharing. 

Before you decide this is the best way for you to raise money, it’s important to know the risks and benefits.

Crowdsourcing benefits:

  • Helps get the bills paid!
  • Reaches large number of potential donors quickly.
  • Potential for your story to go viral; the more people that know about it the better!
  • Fosters a sense of community and solidarity.
  • Ease of use of websites for managing donations.

Crowdsourcing risks:

  • Potential for your story to go viral: how many people do you really want knowing your personal business, medical issues, treatment center?
  • It’s easy to put things up on the internet, it’s much harder to take them down. What will having this information out there mean for you in the future? Think future employment, future relationships, etc.
  • Fees involved with websites – what percent do they keep?
  • Potential tax liabilities for donor and recipient. This is considered taxable income!
  • Potential loss of other public benefits (like Medicaid) as a result of increased income.
  • Donations given through crowdsourcing are not tax deductible unless the group crowdsourcing is a non-profit organization.

Other things to consider:

  • Be reasonable about fundraising goals and focus your efforts to support things you need to improve your quality of life.
  • Not everyone is able or willing to donate money: think of other ways people can help you and your family (rides to appointments, making meals, back to school shopping, homework help, housecleaning).
  • Who will manage the funds?
  • Who will have access to the funds?
  • What if I don’t use all the money that is donated to help me?
  • Keep funds raised in a separate account

Some organizations that assist with setting up a crowd sourcing page:

For patients undergoing stem cell transplants, these websites can provide additional resources for fundraising

Another key part of crowdsourcing is thanking your donors via social media. Be sure to show gratitude, share updates of how the money is helping you, as well as if you plan to “pay it forward.”  This helps individuals who donate to you feel part of a community and a continued connection to you, your story and your needs.

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