What would you do if someone called you a charity case? If you’re like most people you’d probably be a little offended. To many people, accepting help from others represents a personal failure. Well, today we are declaring that this mindset needs to end! Because the reality is that EVERYBODY is a charity case. Yep, everybody.
According to a study released recently by the National Bureau of Economic Research, 50% of Americans said they absolutely wouldn’t be able to come up with $2000 in the event of a medical emergency. And a staggering 75% of those surveyed said they would have to dip into savings, ask friends and family for help, or resort to credit cards or a home equity line of credit. Let me repeat that: 75% of Americans would need help covering a $2000 bill.
Now, imagine that someone close to you is diagnosed with cancer or another illness and instead of just $2,000, that friend needs $10,000 or $20,000 to cover the medication co-pays, travel costs, meals, extra daycare for the kids and all the other out-of-pocket expenses associated with getting sick. Like most people, you’d probably want to help by sending some money, right? Of course you would. But the reality is that most Americans don’t give money when a loved one is sick. They might bring a meal over to the family or send flowers, but they don’t typically send money. And that is the problem.
As a society, we are generous in celebratory moments like the birth of a baby, graduation, or a wedding. But we’re often afraid to give when times are bad. And it’s not because people don’t want to help. If anything over the last three years at GiveForward we have witnessed that people truly do want to help, and the act of giving can be a remarkably empowering experience. Rather, the reason people are hesitant to give money is because they are afraid of making the beneficiary feel like a charity case.
We feel strongly that this “charity case” stigma needs to end! And it needs to end today. According to a recent study by Duke University, the average cancer patient pays over $8500 a year in out of pocket expenses not covered by insurance. If 75% of Americans can’t come up with $2000 in an emergency, imagine how few can come up with $8,500. I’d wager that for 99.5% of Americans an expense of this nature would be devastating.
So the reality is that we’re all in the same boat. I’m a charity case. You’re a charity case. Everyone is a charity case — every single one of us, whether we are in the lower class, middle class or upper class. We can all use an extra helping hand when we get sick. So today we are asking you to do one thing. The next time you find out that someone you care about has been diagnosed with an illness, stop worrying about offending their sense of pride. Instead, worry about how you are going to keep them alive so that they get to celebrate another birthday. Set up a fundraising page for them and spread the word to others. You’ll be amazed at the outpouring of love, generosity and support that will follow. But it requires courage to take that first step.