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NTAF Fund: A Fundraising Solution
August 31, 2010
By Rosemarie Rossetti, Ph.D.
Copyright © 2010 Rosemarie Rossetti, Ph.D.
Publication copyright © 2010 United Spinal Association
What would you say if after your spinal cord injury, a special fundraising campaign was established in your name to help pay for uninsured expenses related to your injury? The fund would cover out-of-pocket medical and related expenses, such as home and vehicle modifications; home healthcare; continued medical treatment; massage therapy; experimental therapies; exercise-based rehabilitation; exercise equipment; hospital and doctors’ fees not covered by insurance; outstanding medical bills; health insurance premiums deductibles/co-payments. You could also be reimbursed for hardship payments for mortgage, rent and utilities; relocation-housing expenses for your care and one caregiver; transportation expenses for you and your caregiver to attend a treatment center; medical equipment and supplies like catheters and over-the-counter drug store items.
Sound too good to be true? Here is a resource you may not have known about to help fund items that can fulfill your goals towards better health and a higher quality of life.
The National Transplant Assistance Fund and Catastrophic Injury Program (NTAF, www.ntafund.org), based in Radnor, Pennsylvania, may be the answer to your financial assistance needs, This 501(c) (3) nonprofit organization was established in 1983 by Dr. Jack Kolff and his wife, Patricia, B.S.N. NTAF has a proven track record of helping families address financial hardships arising from uninsured medical expenses related to transplantation and catastrophic injury. NTAF has helped patients, families and communities nationwide raise more than $64 million for medical and related expenses otherwise unaffordable.
Contributions made to a campaign in honor of a patient are tax-deductible to the fullest extent of the law. NTAF provides expert fundraising guidance to patients, families and communities, while offering fiscal accountability of funds raised. NTAF retains only a 4% fee for check and cash donations (96 cents of every dollar benefits an NTAF patient campaign) and 7% for credit card donations due to higher administrative costs incurred.
The NTAF mission is to help transplant (solid organ, bone marrow, stem cell or tissue) and catastrophic injury (spinal cord or traumatic brain) patients and their families afford critical but uninsured medically related expenses through fundraising guidance and patient support, as well as financial and other resources. According to NTAF’s 2009 Annual Report, there were 464 new community fundraising campaigns initiated in Fiscal Year 2009 (October 2008-September 2009). In FY 2009, NTAF helped patients raise nearly $7 million for out-of-pocket and other related medical expenses. Contributions to NTAF patient fundraising campaigns are available throughout a patient’s lifetime, or as long as there is money in the campaign to cover medically related expenses.
I interviewed two of the people referred by the fund in order to learn more about their experience utilizing NTAF for their campaigns. I was told that the staff is easy to work with and very competent. Those I spoke with told me how successful their fundraising campaigns were and offered many suggestions to help me raise funds. Funds have been raised through golf outings, concerts, dances, walk-a-thons, bake sales, auctions, poker runs, athletic tournaments, garage sales, wine tasting and meal events, and more.
It is easy to start a fundraising campaign through NTAF. Call 800-642-8399 to speak with a representative in the NTAF Patient Services Department and receive a free information packet to help get you started. A patient services coordinator will work with you throughout your campaign. Part of the application process is having your doctor fill out a one-page form to certify your injury and provide medical information.
I started a fundraising campaign with NTAF in July 2010 to raise funds for the construction of my new, accessible home. After my application was submitted, I asked a friend to call NTAF to make the initial contribution which opened the fundraising campaign. Funds raised will be used to buy and install an elevator, as well as pay for the construction where universal design features are critical to my independence, and accessibility. You can search for my name as a patient at www.ntafund.org. Read my appeal letter to know more about my cause and consider making a contribution.
Once you are a patient, you will be able to go to a password protected area of the NTAF Web site to personalize your profile, add photos, and share your appeal letter (a sample appeal letter is provided by NTAF to help you craft your own); connect with other patients to learn what have been their most successful fundraising strategies; access important downloads pertinent to your fundraising efforts, including fundraising ideas and brochures to support your cause.
NTAF provides each patient with a personalized Web page on their web site for online fundraising. In addition, there is information on how to mail in checks on your behalf. Patients can e-mail their personal Web page to others from the NTAF Web site to increase its visibility and online contributions for the campaign. Patients can also add photo galleries, link to an NTAF approved independent Web site, use the site to promote fundraising efforts, and keep family and friends informed on medical progress.
There is no cost to start a campaign or advertize it. The Internet can really speed up the success of a fundraising campaign. Social media strategies can help boost awareness. Consider using YouTube (www.YouTube.com), Facebook (www.Facebook.com) and Twitter (www.Twitter.com) to help get the word out to thousands of people. Contact people you know and ask for help or to contact people they know.
Asking for help is not a sign of weakness. Rather it shows that you know how to achieve your goals. We all need help now and then. Financial, spiritual, physical and emotional help from others can get us through difficult times in our lives. Many of us are unable to recognize when help is needed, or are reluctant to ask for the help that others can provide. Here is your opportunity to ask.