In a previous post, “Sources of Cash to Pay Vet Bills,” we listed eight possible sources of relatively quick cash to pay for veterinary services.
In this post, we explore two additional fund-raising options, leading with brief discussions of several crowdfunding platforms, followed by an overview of charitable organizations offering grants to help qualified applicants pay vet bills.
If you are having financial difficulties and need help paying for your pet’s veterinary care, rather than taking an either-or approach focused on either crowdfunding or applying to charitable organizations for grants, our research suggests you take a both-and approach and explore both crowdfunding and applying for need-based grants you determine you are eligible to receive.
Please note: We’ve prepared this post on crowdfunding platforms and charitable organizations and our “Financial Resources” page for your information only. In most cases, other than verifying their websites are currently up and running, we have no direct experience with the organizations we’ve listed and linked to and do not intend to endorse nor vouch for any of them.
While we’re happy to help you get started on your search for funding your vet bills, it’s entirely up to you to do your own careful, thorough research before setting up a crowdfunding campaign or applying for a grant with any of these organizations.
Now, let’s look at several crowdfunding platforms.
You can ask “the crowd”—that is, your family, friends, social media and email contacts, and compassionate strangers—for charitable contributions to cover your pet’s vet bills by setting up a page on GoFundMe, a leader in crowdfunding which has collected a total of $25 billion in donations to individuals and nonprofits since its beginnings in 2010.
It’s free and easy to set up a GoFundMe campaign to raise money for your pet’s medical care. A transaction fee of 2.9% + $0.30 will apply to every donation.
Read about how GoFundMe works.
See also the website’s section on animal-related fundraisers and these two GoFundMe blog posts:
- “Help Your Pet With the Ultimate Pet Fundraising Guide”
- “3 Quick and Easy Ways to Raise Money for Pet Surgery”
Waggle is a crowdfunding platform dedicated exclusively to fundraising to help pay pets’ medical bills. Once you create a free Waggle campaign, supplying your veterinarian’s contact information, your pet’s medical costs estimate and photos of your pet, Waggle reviews your case and if approved, posts it on the Waggle website.
You can then share the link to your campaign on social media and via email with your contacts. As with GoFundMe campaigns, you may receive donations from people who know you as well as strangers touched by your story.
Instead of sending the money raised to you to pass along to your veterinarian, your veterinarian sends your pet’s invoice to Waggle, and Waggle pays the bill directly to the veterinarian from your campaign proceeds. Your campaign goal cannot exceed the total on the estimate or invoice provided by your veterinarian. The maximum amount a campaign can raise is $2,000.
According to its website, “Waggle’s operating expenses are supported by donors who contribute a small fee at checkout along with an optional tip. This allows us to pass 100% of every donation directly to the chosen pet.”
Our Thoughts on Crowdfunding
In researching this post, we learned of a study of GoFundMe medical fundraising campaigns published in the American Journal of Public Health early in 2022. Researchers analyzed 437,596 GoFundMe campaigns conducted over a five-year period and found only 12% of all campaigns to raise money to pay for human health care services met their goals, and 16% received no donations at all.
All the campaigns in the first two years analyzed raised at least some money, but in 2018, 0.1% of campaigns raised no money. By 2019, the campaigns producing zero contributions increased to 4.1% and by 2020, to 33.8%.
We know of no comparable study of GoFundMe campaigns to pay for veterinary services. Given the 88% failure rate of human medical care GoFundMe campaigns to reach their goals and the upward trend in recent years toward zero campaign proceeds, we suggest you not only follow the platform’s advice for making your campaign most effective, but explore additional resources, such as charitable foundations, to supplement proceeds from any crowdsourcing campaign you set up for your pet.
If you find you don’t meet charitable organizations’ eligibility requirements to qualify for need-based grants, revisit our post, “Sources of Cash to Pay Vet Bills” to explore options for borrowing the money you need.
We also suggest you review crowdsourcing platforms’ “how it works” descriptions carefully and compare fee structures before choosing the one where you’ll set up your campaign. Several of the platforms we reviewed had fairly complicated processes and made it difficult to find complete information about fees that would be applied to donations and distributions.
For example, the pet-focused CoFund My Pet platform differentiates its service by distributing donations through debit cards that work only at veterinary clinics to assure donors their gifts will be used exclusively for veterinary care.
In trying to determine CoFund My Pet fees, we found information spread among three different frequently-asked-question section responses:
- “CoFund My Pet has an administration fee of 5% of all donations to support our thorough campaign administration to ensure funds are used only as intended.”
- “Our credit card processor requires merchant transaction fees of 2.9% and a $0.30 processing charge. This is the industry standard and is common with all platforms.”
- “CoFund My Pet charges a small administration fee to access the payment networks associated with your campaign. We have purposely tried to keep these costs to a minimum. Simply, we charge a $1 per month campaign maintenance fee as well as $1 per transaction fee each time you use your debit card.”
Like GoFundMe, CoFund My Pet charges a 2.9% merchant transaction fee plus a $0.30 processing charge—standard in the industry, just as CoFund My Pet says. The additional 5% administration fee, monthly campaign maintenance fee and the debit card transaction fees reduce the spending power of your campaign proceeds, compared to GoFundMe.
Similarly, the Fundly platform deducts a 4.9% fee from each donation, along with the usual credit card processing fee of 2.9% plus $0.30 per donation.
Before you set up your campaign, dig around the crowdsourcing websites to find the actual fee amounts and do the math.
Financial Aid Organizations
United by a common cause of animal welfare, there are dozens of charitable organizations dedicated to supporting pet owners who need help paying their vet bills. Most charities’ individual missions focus on the financial circumstances of the people they serve and the nature and urgency of the need. Some limit their grant-making based on the pet’s disease, disability or breed. Some serve only dogs or only cats.
Most charitable organizations’ websites present stories of their founding—often inspired by the founders’ own pets—along with detailed information about eligibility for their grants and the types of expenses they will and will not cover.
It’s a good idea to read this material carefully before submitting an application to make sure the organization’s mission, policies and procedures align with your particular case.
While a few charities ask simply for an email message or a “pre-application” with the basic facts of your situation to get the application process started, most have fairly lengthy applications for you to fill out, often requiring input from your veterinarian and documentation of your financial need. Be prepared to invest considerable time in researching each charity you plan to approach and completing each one’s application process as directed.
Many grant-makers pay veterinarians directly, to help make sure funds are used only for paying for medical care. Most will not reimburse you for an invoice you’ve already paid.
You will most likely be expected to pay at least a portion of the vet bill yourself, and some charities encourage or require you to have made other efforts to get help. Some list other charities for you to consider on their websites.
Many of these organizations are small and run by volunteers. They have usually registered as 501(c)(3) nonprofits and depend entirely on donations to fund grants and cover operating expenses. They typically report receiving many applications each day and do their best to review them in a timely way.
Although a few charities make grants of as much as $1,500 or more, most grant amounts tend to be fairly modest, topping out at $250 to $500.
Brownsburg Animal Clinic has for many years maintained a “Financial Resources” page in the Client Information section of our website where we list organizations dedicated to helping financially strapped pet owners pay vet bills and meet other pet-related needs. Rather than duplicate the list of financial aid organizations in this post, we refer you to our recently updated and expanded list.
We’ve visited all the websites listed and highlighted information we could find to help you choose the most promising organizations for further consideration.
Please note: We are not able to recommend or endorse specific charities.
Visit our “Financial Resources” page now.