As part of the founding team at Adly, Derek Rey helped build one of the first businesses focused on social media advertising. Now he’s doing something pretty different — his company Thoughtful.org recently relaunched as a crowdfunding platform for medical, memorial, and emergency costs.
We wrote about the site two years ago, when it was a platform to connect brands and celebrities — kind of like Adly, but with a focus on social good. Rey told me via email that the previous version of the site “had some success” (he pointed specifically to this campaign), “but the dent we hoped to make in the universe was no where close to what we had hoped.”
During that time, Rey also lost his mother to cancer. That, he said, made the shift in direction “obvious,” because he’d “lived the cancer journey.” He added:
It’s a journey that exhausts all resources, as in the case for my family, and we had good health insurance and lived relatively close to our hospital in San Francisco. Meeting people from out of state without a caregiver or family member with them, or driving themselves to chemotherapy, or the people who were not seeking treatment because they did not have health insurance, or adequate health [insurance] … Those are the people that made the shift in direction obvious. I hope they use the site.
Other crowdfunding platforms have also been used to fund medical fees, but as far as I know, Thoughtful.org is the only one that’s really focused on this area. That focus is important, Rey argued, because “when you share your story, you don’t want it to appear next to just anything (i.e. the go fund anything crowdfunding sites for a business, bachelor party, dream vacation, etc).”
[Update: A couple of readers have pointed me to GiveForward, which is also a medical crowdfunding site.]
Plus, Thoughtful doesn’t charge any fees, instead asking donors to include an “optional gift” in addition to their payments. And if you’re raising money on the site, you don’t need to reach your funding goal in order collect the donations.
To illustrate the kind of person he’s hoping to support with Thoughtful, Rey pointed me to Glenn Eslinger, who has stage four pancreatic cancer, is facing treatment costs of $900 a day, and has currently raised $2,460 out of a $15,000 goal.
It’s certainly a powerful idea, but I was a little concerned about fraud — I can think of at least one person who’s abused the trust of friends by feigning illness and collecting donations. When I asked about this possibility, Rey told me that people are asked to verify that everything in their campaign is true through a “declaration of facts,” and he said that Thoughtful conducts phone interviews before campaigns are approved. None of that, I suppose, is completely foolproof, but it should help weed out the obvious scams.
Here’s a video with more of the company’s story.