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This post originall appeared on Fast Company
BY LYDIA DISHMAN | 06-13-2012 | 3:30 PM
With 200 hospitals signed up already, GiveForward could forever change the way you pay for medical expenses--and help individuals and families in need.
GiveForward's biggest ever fundraiser nearly broke the company. Held in honor of Sarah Burke, the X Games champion free skier who died during training, the cause generated so much Facebook traffic in that first 24 hours that it crashed the servers. "I had to tell Sarah's team that we might not have the capacity to host it," GiveForward cofounder and COO Ethan Austin tells Fast Company. "But they told us they had faith in us, so we worked around the clock to figure out a solution."
They did, and the effort brought in over $300,000 in just three days--more than enough to cover Burke’s hospital bills, funeral expenses, and to start a foundation in her memory.
When we checked in with GiveForward last February, the platform had pulled in about $3.5 million for a variety of medical causes. Now, Austin reports, GiveForward has hosted over 15,000 fundraisers and seen more than 200,000 people contribute $16 million to everything from medical expenses (for people and pets) to disaster recovery (fires, floods). The growth has been spurred in part by investor Brad Feld, who hasn't invested in the company but has been offering a lot more than an infusion of capital.
"THERE ARE OVER 6,000 HOSPITALS AROUND THE COUNTRY," SAYS AUSTIN. "IN THE NEXT FEW YEARS, WE WANT TO GET INTO ALL OF THEM."
Inspired by the "extraordinary feeling" that comes from helping a complete stranger in need without expecting anything in return, Feld set up a “random acts of kindness” fundraising marathon. The way it works is this: Feld will run 29 marathons (to bring his lifetime total to 50 by the time he blows out the candles on his 50th birthday cake). Each one is going to be dedicated to a different GiveForward campaign. Feld will donate $5,000 of his own money for each of these fundraisers in hopes that others will follow suit. "Our fundraising efforts will be a complete surprise to these families, and our hope is that we can create a little unexpected joy for the people we support," Feld writes.