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Chicago, IL, July 25, 2012: GiveForward, the crowdfunding site that allows people to raise money for loved ones in need has closed a $2 million A round led by Founder Collective and First Round Capital, with Naval Ravikant and Firestarter Fund participating. This follows a previous $500,000 angel round in 2011 with investors New World Ventures, David Cohen, HowardLindzon, Tim Krauskopf and others.
Like other crowdfunding sites, GiveForward provides people with personal fundraising pages. But instead of seeking funding for a project or entrepreneurial endeavor, users on GiveForward are raising money on behalf of a friend or family member to help them during a difficult time. "GiveForward is more about friends helping friends," says Desiree Vargas Wrigley, CEO. "So often, people ask a loved one, ‘what can I do to help?’ But very rarely do they admit what they need most—financial support.” According to a recent Duke Medical study, the average cancer patient will spend $8500 in out-of-pocket expenses in their first year of treatment. “Given the current state of the economy and the fact that the median income in this country is only $46,000, out-of- pocket costs exceed what most American families can afford,” says Co-Founder Ethan Austin.
The company, which has 3000+ active fundraisers on the site expects to help members of its community (or people in need) raise $25 to $30 million in 2012 for things like cancer treatments, organ transplants and even the mortgage or groceries for families dealing with the financial burden of an illness. With over 72 million Americans taking on medical debt each year, the company is clearly tackling a real problem in this country and has shown significant traction since they graduated from Chicago's Excelerate Labs in 2010. GiveForward is currently working with 200 health organizations and hospitals across the country like the American Cancer Society, MD Anderson and Memorial Sloan Kettering to help families during times of need. The new influx of capital will be used to expand their reach with healthcare organizations and to attract key hires to lead their marketing and engineering teams.
"GiveForward's long-term goal is to become the first resource friends turn to during times of need," says Vargas Wrigley. “We hope to distinguish our site from other crowdfunding tools by
helping friends and family provide both emotional and financial support.”
Eric Paley, Managing Partner at Founder Collective added, “The reason GiveForward is so
exciting is because it’s disrupting an industry that has been broken for a long time. Healthcare
costs not only have been a private burden for Americans, but they are the number one cause
of bankruptcy in this country. GiveForward is using the social web to empower people to save
friends from this kind of hardship.”
So far, it appears the site is well on its way to achieving this. This past January after X-
Games free-skier Sarah Burke passed away from a skiing accident, friends quickly set up a
GiveForward page and raised $300,000 in just 72 hours to help her family pay off uncovered
medical bills. “But what was most inspirational about the Sarah Burke story,” says Vargas
Wrigley, “was the outpouring of emotional support and tributes from fans. GiveForward gave this community a way to collectively grieve the loss of one of their heroes.”
With healthcare costs on the rise (Americans spent $360 billion last year on out-of-pocket medical expenses) there's no doubt that crowdfunding for medical expenses is here to stay. Ten years ago, when a loved one got sick or got in an accident, people would hold bake sales and spaghetti dinners to raise money. Today they're taking their efforts online and using GiveForward.
Desiree Vargas Wrigley and co-founder, Ethan Austin launched GiveForward in 2008 and
bootstrapped for two years before being accepted into the inaugural class of Chicago's Excelerate Labs in 2010.