Entrepreneurs and nonprofits have long leaned on internet fundraising to get their initiatives off the ground. Now, those facing serious medical conditions -- from Parkinson's to infertility -- are turning to the crowdfunding platform to help pay their mounting medical bills.
Launched in 2008, IndieGoGo.com enables its users to share their causes and solicit donations from complete strangers. The more than 40,000 campaigns its helped launch have ranged in scope, but the health stories typically center on the same theme. The patients face crippling conditions and can't afford the care they need.
"I think health care issues and personal health campaigns make sense, because our health care system can be very expensive sometimes," IndieGoGo founder Slava Rubin told The New York Times. "Sometimes people just need to try a different direction to get funded what they need to get funded."
Jessica Haley and her husband turned to IndieGoGo in June when they were eager to get pregnant and their insurance didn't cover fertility treatments, The Times reports. She and her husband set up an account and collected $8,050.
"I cried millions of times that day out of pure excitement and joy," Haley told the news outlet. "It was amazing to get all that support through a computer."
The site doesn’t charge its users to post their cause, but it does take a 4 percent fee from the money raised. If a campaign doesn’t meet its goal, the fee jumps to 9 percent.
From Rubin's experience, the same rule of thumb applies to all causes.
"The number one method for driving new customers is word of mouth," Rubin told Frobes.com. "Successful campaigns lead to more campaigns."Meet five such individuals who are relying on IndieGogo supporters to help fight their illnesses. SLIDESHOW:
Parkinson's Disease has stripped Chris Cowing of his ability to take care of himself, but he's been denied the governmental aid he needs to help treat his condition. Chris' wife, Rhea, has stepped in as the round-the-clock care-giver, but the couple has no source of income. "I am trapped in my body. Unfortunately I can no longer work," Chris wrote on his IndieGoGo.com page. "It is very hard for me to ask for help as I have always been a very proud person." The Cowings have set their fundraising goal at $7,000. You can donate to their cause here.
Determined to win the battle against Acute Promyelocytic Leukemia, 17-year-old Katie McGuigan is undergoing chemotherapy and is enrolled in a medical trial. While doctors have given Katie a hopeful prognosis, her family is saddled with bills and hopes to raise funds to help offset the financial burden. Katie hopes to raise $500 and has only 18 days left to do so. Donate to Katie's cause here.
At just 2 years old, CJ DeJohn has undergone three open-heart surgeries to treat a congenital defect. While his most recent operation was a success, CJ suffered a stroke and intensive seizures, requiring expensive therapies that are adding on to his parents mounting medical bills. "We've never felt so helpless," the DeJohns wrote on IndieGoGo, "watching your baby seize is something no parent should have to see." The DeJohns hope to raise $5,000 to help fund their son's medical care. You can donate to CJ's cause here.
Macular Degeneration destroyed most of Alan Lock's vision when he was in his early 20s, but it hasn't touched his adventurous spirit. Lock will trek from the coast of Antarctica at Union Glacier to the South Pole, a 600-mile journey that no person with visual impairment has completed. Lock hopes to raise money for Guide Dogs for the Blind, the largest supplier of sight dogs and Sightsavers International, which works on preventing blindness in developing countries. Donate to Lock's cause here.
John Kane suffered a spinal cord injury in July and will soon leave the protective confines of the hospital to continue his rehabilitation at home. John has regained mobility in his upper body and hands, but will need intensive home care to continue to make such strides. "He is the kind of son any mother would be proud to have," John's mom said about her son on his IndieGoGo page. "I am so proud of his resilience I just have to thank God and all the support he receives from his friends and family." John hopes to raise $25,000 to help fund his medical needs. Donate to John's cause here.