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GiveForward’s Journey to $50 Million

Last Thursday GiveForward reached $50 million in funds raised for families around the country. As I celebrated with my team I experienced a sense of gratitude so profound, it forced me to step back from the moment and marvel at the world I am fortunate enough to live in and also at how far we’ve come.

In 2008 my partner, Ethan Austin, and I launched a website that we hoped would help people raise money. It felt like a pretty simple concept at the time, but it was a hard road to get to where we are today. In our early years, Ethan and I worked during the day at GiveForward and at night at jobs that would actually pay us. Each morning I would take the train to Merchandise Mart, bleary-eyed from working until 2am the night before, and all I thought about was how to make others believe in GiveForward like Ethan and I did. When we got to the office we would sit with each other and dream, not about what GiveForward could one day be but what it would one day be.  I still remember New Year’s Day, 2009. We had launched about 5 months prior, and when I woke up that morning I looked at the site traffic and saw that 1 person had visited our website the day before. This was hardly a vote of confidence in our idea, but we kept on going because we truly believed that our service and our website needed to exist.

Today, GiveForward is visited more than 1.5 million times per month. Close to 1 million people have donated to a friend or loved one in need. Healthcare professionals at over 1000 hospitals refer patients to our website. And most importantly, more than $50 million has been raised to help American families pay their medical bills and avoid bankruptcy caused by a medical crisis.

Last Thursday, as Ethan and I basked in a moment we always believed would one day come, I realized that belief was the reason we were able to have the joyous yet humbling experience that is seeing your dreams realized. We believed GiveForward needed to exist. We believed we could find employees who felt the same way. We believed we could convince people to try our website and once they did they would believe in it as well. We believed those people would tell their friends about us, and we believed we could create a community of like-minded individuals who felt empowered to change the way patients meet the rising cost of healthcare in this country.

So to the millions of you out there who have visited a friend’s page, donated to a loved one, left a virtual hug, referred a friend to our service or simply believed right along with us that we could get here, I want to say, “Thank you.” It has been our great honor to serve you, and we truly could not have done it without you.

-Desiree Vargas Wrigley, Co-Founder/CEO, GiveForward

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”  – Margaret Mead

Whose world will you change?