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Live Donor Toolkit: Resources for Those Considering Live Donation

Fundraising for living donor Expenses – Q & A

Frequently asked Questions about Fundraising to help with costs due to donation: 

Can I raise money to cover my expenses? 

How much money can I fundraise? 

  • What if I raise more money than I need?

How can I can raise money to cover my costs? 

  • Financial assistance programs for living donors
  • Fundraising campaigns
  • Financial assistance from the transplant recipient

What organizations that can help me raise money?

Possible pros and cons of fundraising through nonprofit organizations

After you have used the Living organ donor costs worksheet to estimate your potential costs for donation, you can consider fundraising to assist with costs, not covered by other resources specific to your situation.. 

Can I raise money to cover my costs? 

Yes, you can raise money to cover the costs of being a living donor. Living donors have raised money to cover costs they couldn’t afford by sharing their living donation story with family, friends, and the public. However, before you start raising money, you should first:

  • Go through the evaluation process to get approved to be a living donor
  • Talk with your donor social worker about how to raise money because every hospital has different rules 

How much money can I fundraise? 

You can raise exactly as much money as you need for the costs of your living donation—but no more than that. It is illegal to make money from selling your organs, but you are allowed to raise enough to cover any costs of being a living donor, including travel costs and wages lost from not being able to work. 

What if I raise more money than I need?

If you raise more money than you need, you usually give it back or donate it to a charity that you choose before you start fundraising.  Individuals donating money should be aware of that plan, upfront.  Speak with your donor social worker to find out exactly how much you need, and then set a goal so you can stop raising money when you reach your goal by using the Living organ donor costs worksheet . An easy way to make sure you only raise what you need is to set a “ceiling.” For example, if you are holding an online fundraiser, you can set it to ‘shut down’ once you have reached your goal. For in-person fundraisers, where it would be harder to know in real-time how much money has been raised, you should post a sign to say where extra money will go, in the lovely situation of raising too much money (this could include helping to cover the recipient’s transplant costs, for example, or to an organ donation charity).

How can I raise money to cover my costs?

There are many ways you can raise money, depending on your personal situation: 

  • Financial assistance programs
  • Fundraising campaigns
  • Financial assistance from the transplant recipient

Financial assistance programs for living donors

You can find a list of organizations that give money to living donors to cover their costs on the Nonprofit Sources of Financial Assistance for Living Donors page. Depending on your situation, you may be able to get a grant from one of these organizations. Discuss this option with your donor social worker.  

Fundraising campaigns

Living donors can hold fundraising campaigns to raise money for their costs. Often, living donors will ask a family member or friend to help with the campaign and manage the money, which can help avoid problems managing the funds. 

To raise money: 

  • Talk about your living donation with people at local charities, your church, work, the social groups you belong to, and other organizations in your community that help people
  • Many people use online “crowd-sourcing” and social media sites to spread the word, such as Caring Bridge and Facebook

When you are raising money, be sure to state clearly how much you need for donation expenses and what you will do if you get more money than you need.

Financial assistance from the transplant recipient

Most of the time, transplant recipients can’t help by giving you money and it is not expected. But sometimes, the recipient or their family are able to pay for some or all of the donor’s costs during the living donation process, including: 

  • Hotel
  • Travel
  • Food
  • Household bills
  • Medical bills

They can also give money from their own fundraisers to the donor, if they’re able to raise that much. If your transplant recipient or their family does offer to give you money, make sure you don’t take any more than what you need for costs related to your donation. Fill out the Living organ donor costs worksheet with your donor social worker or Independent Donor Advocate to find out how much you need. 

What organizations can help me raise money?

Here are a few nonprofit organizations that can help you raise money for donation-related costs:

Help Hope Live
https://helphopelive.org/faq 

  • Any money you raise can be used for your donor expenses as well as your transplant recipient’s expenses

National Foundation for Transplants (NFT)
www.transplants.org

  • Any money you raise can be used for your donor expenses as well as your transplant recipient’s expenses
  • NFT is launching a new program that will allow you to create your own fundraising campaign, separate from the transplant recipient

Children’s Organ Transplant Association
www.cota.org/cota-families/cota-advantages/ 

  • They prefer to help donors and child transplant recipients, but it isn’t required that the recipient be a child

Possible pros and cons of fundraising through nonprofit organizations

Pros:

  • The money you raise isn’t taxable
  • People who give to your fundraiser can get a tax deduction
  • People who give to the fundraiser can be confident that the money will be used for living donor expenses because the nonprofit will manage the process
  • The nonprofit has a process so you only raise how much money you need
  • If you use Medicaid, working with one of these groups won’t change your eligibility

Cons:

  • The social media aspect of these organizations may not be as good as other options, such as “crowd­sourcing,” so you may not raise as much money
  • Your fundraiser has to be connected to your transplant recip­ient’s fundraiser, which can be a problem if:
    • You are donating but not to a specific person (such as you don’t know who will get your kidney, but you are donating anyway)
    • Your transplant recipient doesn’t want to be part of the fundraiser

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