Less than 10% of Crowdfunding Campaigns for Kidney Cancer Meet Goal

Crowdfunding campaigns to cover costs of kidney cancer care frequently do not meet their fundraising goal, according to a study published in Cancer Medicine.

“Kidney cancer patients are particularly burdened by costs associated with novel systemic treatments,” wrote the study authors. “This study aimed to ascertain the characteristics of GoFundMe crowdfunding campaigns for patients with kidney cancer, in order to better understand the financial needs of this population.”

Goal Met in <10% of Campaigns

The investigators assessed 486 kidney cancer–related GoFundMe campaigns since 2010. Data such as goal funds, amounts raised, and campaign narratives were evaluated. Patient, disease, and campaign-level variables were determined from campaign stories.

The median fundraising goal was $10,000 (interquartile range [IQR], $5,000–$20,000) and the median amount raised was $1,450 (IQR, $578–$4,050). More than half of campaigns were for male patients (53%) and 62% were for adult patients with children. Seventeen percent of campaigns were raising funds for pediatric patients. Campaigns were online for a median of 22 months and shared a median of 154 times. Eight percent met their target funds. The median number of donations per campaign was 17.

Among adult patients, 37% were the primary wage earners in their household and 43% lost or had hours reduced at their job due to their illness. More than one-quarter of patients (29%) were uninsured or had insufficient insurance.

More than half of fundraisers were to cover medical bills (60%). Other frequently listed campaign purposes included non-medical bills (27%) and medical travel (23%). Campaign narratives frequently spotlighted the patients’ hardships (46.3%) and high moral character (35.2%), “praising intrinsic traits such as kindness and compassion and societal archetypes such as devotion to family.”

The authors noted that financial burdens were greater for patients living in rural rather urban communities. “Rural cancer patients report higher rates of unemployment and no insurance, along with clinical variables such as metastatic cancer rate,” wrote the authors.

Characteristics of Successful Campaigns

Of the 8.2% of campaigns that met or exceeded their target goal, the majority were for adult patients (75%) and men (67.5%). Subjects of “successful” campaigns were frequently parents (56.7%) and were primary wage earners (46.7%). Twenty percent reported insufficient or no insurance. More than half of these campaigns referenced religion or spirituality in their story (55%). The median donation amount in successful campaigns was 72.

Limitations of this study, according to the authors, included the limited depth and breadth of data available from the GoFundMe campaign submissions, including self-reported patient narratives and an inability to confirm accuracy or context of statements. Also, without a comparator group, it was challenging to draw comparative conclusions on campaigns for kidney cancer compared with other cancers. It was also “largely unclear whether the features of this cohort of GoFundMe patients were generalizable to those of the general population.”

In conclusion, the authors wrote, “Despite fundraising efforts, patients with kidney cancer face persistent financial barriers, incurring both medical and nonmedical cost burdens. This may be compounded by limited or no insurance. Cancer care providers should be aware of financial constraints placed on kidney cancer patients and consider how these may impact treatment regimens.”