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Crowdfunding: New way to raise money for health needs

February 1, 2013 12:00:00 AM PST
People faced with soaring healthcare costs have looked for help before. Now they've found another possible solution online.

Thousands are sharing their stories on websites in what is known as crowdfunding. It's the latest online evolution connecting individuals who are in need, with people who want to do good.

In the past, you might have just donated to an organization. But now, you can find the actual person you want to help, like little Madden.

Madden was born with a rare genetic disorder. He needs surgeries to stay alive, and the costs are overwhelming.

"ER visits, medication, he's on a special formula," said Mandy Sheridan, Madden's mother.

While his disease is rare, his situation is not. Millions of Americans struggle to pay for their medical bills, just like Madden's mother. But now thousands are getting help thanks to crowdfunding. Their stories are shared on crowdfunding websites, where perfect strangers pitch in and help.

"It was so exciting. The first donation that came in, and then by the end of the day there were so many. It was inspiring," said Sheridan.

Crowdfunding has been used in recent years, mostly to finance creative startup projects like movies. Now experts say it's exploding in the nonprofit sector.

Gofundme.com, one of several online fundraising sites, raised more than $8 million for medical causes last year.

"Our medical, illness and healing category is the most popular area of usage," said Brad Damphousse with gofundme.com.

People selflessly trying to help those who need it, like Madden. His mom says she can't wait to tell him the story someday.

"I will tell him that strangers came together and helped save his life," she said.

Perfect strangers have given Madden $11,000 so far, and these donors have given out of the kindness of their own hearts, because in most of these cases, you are simply giving to an individual, which is not tax deductible. But still, millions of dollars are coming in, and saving lives.


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