Raleigh, NC — Two former pharmaceutical services execs have launched a crowdfunding platform that is the first of its kind to provide technology-based security to protect donors from fraud.
CoFund Health (cofundhealth.com), which allows users to set up health-related fundraising campaigns, operates like a traditional crowdfunding site but with the addition of three major protections:
The beneficiary must approve the campaign before it launches. One of the leading causes of online fundraising fraud is misrepresentation — where an individual starts a fundraising campaign on behalf of someone else but doesn't actually give that person the money raised. For example, numerous GoFundMe campaigns popped up after the Parkland school shooting, all claiming to raise money to help the students and families — and many fake.
CoFund Health eliminates this risk by requiring the beneficiary to verify the campaign and enter his or her personally identifying information before a penny can be raised.
The named beneficiary is the only one who can spend the funds. CoFund Health campaigns transfer money through a pharmacy benefit card and/or a debit card in the beneficiary's name only. No one else can access the money.
Monies raised can only be used to pay for healthcare-related expenses. CoFund Health is the only crowdfunding platform to limit payments in this way. Pharmacy benefit cards are used similarly to insurance cards, and can only be used to pay for prescription medications or medical equipment obtained at a pharmacy. CoFund Health debit cards can only be used at healthcare providers such as doctors, dentists, hospitals or ambulance services, or to pay for health insurance premiums.
"It's estimated that 75% of Americans are not financially secure enough to withstand a catastrophic health event," said CoFund Health cofounder Matt Martin. "If you look at that from a personal perspective, that's almost everyone you know. No wonder so many people turn to social media and crowdfunding to help raise money when they get sick or hurt."
National figures show that some $1.4 billion is raised a year from nearly 16 million donors to help fund health campaigns. Before CoFund Health, donors had no way of knowing for sure who was actually using their money and for what purpose.
"Fundraising taps into the fundamental kindness of people," said cofounder Burke Williams. "Unfortunately, scammers tap into that, too. Our platform allows people to give money with peace of mind, knowing it's really going to help. It's not going to some stranger who hacked someone's photos; it's not going to pay for somebody's Caribbean vacation or a new car. It will be used to buy medicines, pay for doctors' visits, and cover hospital stays. When you give through CoFund Health, you know your money is being used for legitimate healthcare needs."
CoFund Health is a Raleigh, N.C.-based startup founded by Matt Martin and Burke Williams. Martin, a West Point graduate and Army veteran, is a veteran of the healthcare industry, previously serving as a vice president at TrialCard, a pharmaceutical access services company. Williams, also a healthcare industry veteran, worked for more than 15 years developing innovative patient support solutions as a leader and vice president at TrialCard. Learn more at cofundhealth.com.