9 Best Charities That Fight Chronic Illnesses (Complete 2023 List)
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More than 130 million Americans are affected by chronic diseases. These are long-term medical conditions that leave lasting a mark on patients, their families, and their friends. And while so many people are suffering from chronic diseases, there are fortunately some charities out there that fight these. So we had to ask: What are the best charities that fight chronic illnesses?
The best charities that fight chronic illnesses are the National Organization for Rare Diseases, the Chronic Disease Fund Inc., and the American Chronic Pain Association. Other charities, such as the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation and Hope Charities help people affected by specific chronic illnesses.
Whether you want to support cutting-edge research about chronic illnesses or programs that alleviate the daily pain of those living with these, there is a charity for you. Keep reading to learn more about what the best charities that fight chronic illnesses are all about, how they work, and what your best way would be to contribute.
Here’s What All the Best Charities That Fight Chronic Illnesses Have in Common
The charities on the list were chosen based on their goals, accomplishments, transparency ratings, and future vision. They primarily operate in North America but help people across the globe through their research and educational efforts.
Most charities listed here offer funds for patient healthcare services but some of them are more focused on research, advocacy, and education. They all share the same goal of helping people affected by chronic illnesses yet, the means they pursue that goal is different. And while some chronic diseases have a decent chance of being cured through research and advancements in treatments, others require constant care – at least for the foreseeable future.
These Are the 9 Best Charities That Fight Chronic Illnesses in 2023
Below are our favorite charities that fight chronic illnesses:
- National Organization for Rare Disorders
- Chronic Disease Fund Inc.
- American Chronic Pain Association
- Cystic Fibrosis Foundation
- Hope Charities
- HealthWell Foundation
- Lazarex Cancer Foundation
- American Kidney Fund
- Michigan Parkinson Foundation
(At the end of this article we’ll also share our six-step approach on how you can select the best charity to support.)
National Organization for Rare Disorders: Helping Patients Suffering From Rare Disorders
The National Organization for Rare Disorders (NORD) was founded in 1983 by Abbey Meyers to raise funds for rare conditions in the US. Today, the charity has developed into a nationwide corporation with over 300 organization members.
“Alone we are rare. Together we are strong.”National Organization for Rare Disorders
What they do: The National Organization for Rare Disorders offers support to individuals who suffer from rare medical conditions and to organizations that serve these individuals. They also help patients through their assistance programs, education, and advocacy for research. Through their grants, doctors and researchers are encouraged to research and publish new treatments and diagnostic methods for patients with rare diseases. In addition, the charity offers several educational initiatives such as the Rare Disease Database and Students for Rare to improve the lives of affected patients and families.
What they’ve achieved: Since their inception, the National Organization for Rare Disorders have assisted over 9,900 individuals with cases of rare diseases across 50 states. They have provided financial aid of over $35 million to patients and diagnosed 265 cases of rare disease. And, for example, in 2020, their team answered over 68,000 calls and 65,000 email queries, and their website registered over 22.8 million unique page views – all raising awareness of rare medical conditions.
Ways to contribute: You can donate directly to the National Organization for Rare Disorders through their website. You can also support them by participating in their events and raising awareness campaigns on social media.
Chronic Disease Fund Inc. (Good Days Mission): Saving People From Chronic Pain
The Chronic Disease Fund Inc. (Good Days Mission) was founded in 2003 by Micheal Banigan to support families affected by chronic illnesses. Today, the charity continues to support patients through advocacy and financial assistance.
Their impact and transparency ratings: The Chronic Disease Fund Inc. holds a perfect score of 100 from Charity Navigator for finance and accountability, and a Gold Seal of Transparency from GuideStar.
“For a patient suffering from a chronic or life-altering disease, treatment can make all the difference in the world.“Chronic Disease Fund Inc.
What they do: The Chronic Disease Fund Inc.’s Good Days Mission seeks to decrease the burdens of patients suffering from chronic illness. They offer several types of assistance programs for patients, including copay, travel, and diagnostic testing. In addition, the charity raises awareness about chronic illnesses. For example, they organize the Chronic Disease Day with state, city governments, and patient advocacy groups to support chronic and rare disease communities.
What have they achieved: Since their founding, the Chronic Disease Fund Inc. has helped more than 500,000 patients across the US suffering from chronic diseases and provided more than 800,000 grants. For example, in 2020 alone, they helped 236,838 patients gain access to health care resources and provided $265,483,021 in grants for patients in need with a household income below $39,000. And in their recent awareness campaign, over 33 state governors joined the Good Days Mission to help raise awareness of chronic illnesses.
Way to contribute: You can donate to Chronic Disease Fund Inc. directly through their website, the Good Days Mission.
American Chronic Pain Association: Information and Guidance for Pain Management
The American Chronic Pain Association was founded in 1980 in the US by Penney Cowan to help people suffering from chronic pain. Today, the organization has grown into several hundred support groups that coordinate and help affected patients across the US, Canada, Great Britain, and many other countries.
Their impact and transparency ratings: The American Chronic Pain Association holds a ‘Give With Confidence’ score of 95 from Charity Navigator.
“To live well in spite of a chronic pain problem, you need to be a well-informed consumer.“American Chronic Pain Association
What they do: The American Chronic Pain Association offers peer support and education in pain management skills to people with pain, their family and friends, and employees from the healthcare industry. As part of their holistic education program, they host informational content on pain management for a number of diseases and several video libraries such as the Implantable Medical Devices series and Pathway Through Pain series.
What they’ve achieved: Since their founding, the American Chronic Pain Association has helped countless people to better live with and manage their chronic pain. One key achievement is the publication of their Resource Guide to Chronic Pain Management, a multi-year collaboration with Stanford Medicine and more than 100 contributors, which provides detailed information on medical, interventional, behavioral, pharmacological, and rehabilitation therapies.
Ways to contribute: You can donate to the American Chronic Pain Association directly through their website.
Cystic Fibrosis Foundation: Innovative Research to Cure Cystic Fibrosis
The Cystic Fibrosis Foundation was founded in 1955 in the US by a group of volunteers to help cure cystic fibrosis and assist affected patients. Today, the foundation engages in legislative lobbying in support of cystic fibrosis patients – in addition to their original goals.
“We are in a relentless pursuit of a cure“Cystic Fibrosis Foundation
What they do: Cystic Fibrosis Foundation pursues a cure for cystic fibrosis and sponsors a broad range of research endeavors that target this disease. For example, they sponsor research and clinical trials focused on expanding the knowledge of cystic fibrosis and on translating discoveries and insights into new treatments and clinical care practices. Also, their federal and state advocacy measures support patients suffering from cystic fibrosis and provide them with access to medical supervision.
What they’ve achieved: Through their research and drug development and high-quality, specialized care, the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation have helped people with cystic fibrosis living into their 30s, 40s, and beyond (instead of a pre-elementary school life expectancy). For example, in 2019, the FDA approved TRIKAFTA, the first triple combination therapy for the most common cystic fibrosis mutation – a milestone in the works for decades. And in the same year, they launched their Path to a Cure, a $500 million research portfolio to accelerate treatments for all people with cystic fibrosis. And in 2018, the foundation launched the Infection Research Initiative, a $100 million effort to improve the detection, diagnosis, treatment, and outcomes of cystic fibrosis-related infections.
Hope Charities: Supporting Patients With Bleeding Disorders
Hope Charities was founded in 2009 by a group of friends to help patients suffering from Hemophilia. Since their founding, the organization has grown into a national network, financially and emotionally assisting patients that suffer from Hemophilia and other bleeding disorders.
Their impact and transparency ratings: Hope Charities holds the Silver Seal of Transparency from GuideStar.
“You are not alone.”Hope Charities
What they do: Hope Charities helps patients and families affected by bleeding disorders. They do this by providing resources, such as transitional living, dental programs, and co-pay aid. For example, their Direct Patient Assistance programs offer financial support to affected people, and their Access To Care programs cover insurance premiums on behalf of patients.
What they’ve achieved: Since their founding, Hope Charities have served over 3,000 requests for assistance, including $1.2 million in financial aid, to support affected patients and their families. For example, they have provided medical benefits to over 1,200 patients, housing to over 900 individuals, and utilities and transportation to over 300 individuals.
HealthWell Foundation: Financial Aid for the Underinsured
The HealthWell Foundation was founded in 2003 in the US to help underinsured Americans with funding for critical medical treatments. Today, the foundation supports adults and children, including many with chronic illnesses, by covering financial gaps in their insurance policies.
“When health insurance is not enough”HealthWell Foundation
What they do: The HealthWell Foundation seeks to decrease the financial burdens of underinsured patients suffering from chronic or life-threatening conditions. They offer funds for drug coinsurance, copayments, deductibles, health insurance premiums, and other selected out-of-pocket health care expenses. In addition, they have partnerships with many health care organizations and societies to support patients.
What they’ve achieved: To date, the HealthWell Foundation has aided more than 727,000 patients with funds for medications totaling over $2.7 billion in co-payments. For example, in 2021 alone, they awarded over $818 million in grants. And in the same year, they actively manage over 185,400 grants and assisted over 37,000 monthly callers.
Ways to contribute: You can donate to the HealthWell Foundation directly through their website. You can also stay up-to-date with new developments and contact the charity through their social media pages.
Lazarex Cancer Foundation: Connecting Patients With Tomorrow’s Cure Today
The Lazarex Cancer Foundation was founded in 2006 in the US by Dana Dornsife to help advanced-stage cancer patients. Today, their mission is to improve healthcare outcomes for all people affected by cancer.
“So many dreams at first seem impossible, then they seem improbable, and then, when we summon the will, they soon become inevitable.”Lazarex Cancer Foundation
What they do: The Lazarex Cancer Foundation helps patients with advanced-stage cancer by encouraging patients to take advantage of medical breakthroughs via clinical trials and providing financial assistance to participate in these. In addition, they also address the health disparities among underserved patients, and seek to improve cancer survival rates through early detection.
What they have achieved: The Lazarex Cancer Foundation since their founding have covered costs for FDA clinical trials for over 6,185 patients. Through their program services, they have spent over $19 million to assist advanced-stage cancer patients across all the 50 states of the US. From infants to adults, they have helped patients with all classifications of cancer in over 200 research centers nationwide.
American Kidney Fund: Fighting Kidney Diseases at All Fronts
The American Kidney Fund was founded in 1971 in the US by a group of friends to raise funds for kidney dialysis treatments. Today, they are the only organization that takes a comprehensive approach (from prevention through post-transplant living) to fight kidney diseases.
“Join us to fight kidney disease on all fronts”American Kidney Fund
What they do: The American Kidney Fund fights the burdens of kidney diseases through research, treatment, legislation, and awareness. They’ve been driving kidney research since 1988 with their Clinical Scientist in Nephrology program. And their members work with Congress, and state governments to support policies essential for kidney patients.
What they’ve achieved: Since their founding, the American Kidney Fund have helped patients with kidney disease from prevention to life-saving treatments to post-transplant living. For example, in 2021 alone, their support enabled 157 kidney transplants per month, they helped more than 80,000 dialysis and recent transplant patients to cover healthcare-related expenses, and they also provided more than $450,000 in disaster grants to more than 2,400 kidney patients affected by natural disasters. In addition, their research team of 51 scientists advances neurological research related to kidney diseases.
Michigan Parkinson Foundation: Educational Support for Parkinson’s Patients
Michigan Parkinson Foundation was founded in 1992 in the US to help patients suffering from Parkinson’s disease, their families, and their healthcare professionals. Today, the organization educates and provides direct patient support to people affected by Parkinson’s disease and related movement disorders.
Their impact and transparency ratings: The Michigan Parkinson Foundation holds a perfect score of 100 from Charity Navigator.
“Every person with Parkinson’s and related disorders shall receive compassionate quality care and support.”Michigan Parkinson Foundation
What they do: The Michigan Parkinson Foundation organizes free daily Parkison exercise classes and delivers educational programs by healthcare professionals. In addition, their legal team offers pro-bono legal guidance for the many issues that patients with Parkinson’s face. They also manage virtual support groups and collaborate with Andrews University for speech therapy sessions.
What they’ve achieved: Michigan Parkinson Foundation has supported Parkinson’s patients through their exercise and educational programs. For example, in 2020 alone, they sponsored 4,866 hours of respite care, Parkinson’s exercise classes, and educational programs for over 18,000 patients. And they also helped 670 newly diagnosed people with direct mail informational packets.
Ways to contribute: You can donate to the Michigan Parkinson Foundation directly through their website. You can also join their fundraiser events and fill up their volunteer application forms for more opportunities to support.
How Can You Select the Best Charities to Support?
The charities on the list are, we deem, the best charities that fight chronic illnesses. However, you may have a particular charity you want to support. Let’s look at what you can do to ensure your contribution has the most significant impact.
- Check out the charity website. Charities that are worthy of your donations are transparent in their mission and their figures. Familiarise yourself with their history, mission, and values. Their website usually is the best place to start.
- Identify the charity’s mission. Without a goal, the charity is likely to fail. If the charity’s mission isn’t clear, it’s probably worth looking for a charity that does have a clear mission.
- Check if the charity has measurable goals. An effective charity has clear goals. You want to know your donation will help the charity reach its goals. But if it doesn’t have targets, it’s likely to fail or squander your gift. The charity should be able to account for its spending and supply evidence of the work they do.
- Assess the successes or goals the charity has achieved. You wouldn’t invest in a business if it kept missing its targets. In the same way, charities are like this too. If no one is assessing a charity’s progress in reaching its targets, the chances are they’re not making a substantial positive change.
- Check the charity’s financials and stats. Trustworthy organizations will publish financial statements and reports each year. Some might be exempt from having to do so, but they should be able to provide them to public members who are interested in donating.
- Locate sources who work with or benefit from the charity. Word of mouth and first-hand experience of a charity’s work lets you know the charity’s quality. If you’re able to do so, check out the charity for yourself or speak to someone familiar with it. This way, your donation will go to the right place.
How Can You Best Support These Charities?
After you’ve made your decision, it’s time for you to decide on how you’d like to help the charities you’ve chosen. Check how you can help – each charity runs specific programs that have unique aims. Find out what the aim of such programs is and whether they are right for you.
Here are a few ways you can help your chosen charity:
- Donate money. You can find donation pages on the website of most charities. Your donation can be a one-time payment, or you can set it to be deducted regularly at different intervals. You can mostly pay via credit card, but some charities also take PayPal or Bitcoin payments.
- Buy their official merchandise. The charities can also raise money by selling merchandise. So, you can support them by buying the mugs, shirts, caps, pens, pencils, and any other such items they may be selling. Ideally, you should buy as much as you can to share and spread the word about the charity’s activities.
- Donate a percentage of your online purchases. If you bought anything on sites like Amazon lately, you’d find a prompt asking you to donate to your favorite charities through their Amazon Smile program. You can set this up so that your chosen charities will get a fraction of your online purchases.
- Engage in volunteer work. As you’ve seen from our descriptions above, some charities engage in a lot of local and grassroots programs. You can help by taking on and organizing the program in your local area.
- Help their fundraising efforts. You can spread the word about the charity in your workplace, school, church, etc., and hold creative fundraising drives on social media or offline within your small circles.
- Share their stories. Most charities have compelling stories that you can share with your audience to attract more people to the cause.
Now it is up to you to select the charity that resonates most with you. And whichever charity you end up choosing and contributing to, we are sure that they will immensely appreciate your support. Hopefully, the information within this article has made this selection process a bit easier for you to support charities dedicated to fighting chronic illnesses – based on the causes that matter most to you.
PS: Finally, I want to leave you with a thought-provoking TED talk from Dan Pallotta, a leading philanthropic activist and fundraiser, about what is wrong with the way we think about charities – and what we can do about it:
- Chronic Diseases: Statistics
- National Organization for Rare Disorders: Home Page
- Charity Navigator: National Organization for Rare Disorders
- GuideStar: National Organization for Rare Disorders
- National Organization for Rare Disorders: Service programs
- National Organization for Rare Disorders: Patient Organizations
- National Organization for Rare Disorders: Service programs
- National Organization for Rare Disorders: Get Involved
- National Organization for Rare Disorders: Research and Development
- National Organization for Rare Disorders: Get Involved
- National Organization for Rare Disorders: Annual Report
- National Organization for Rare Disorders: Donate
- National Organization for Rare Disorders: Educate
- National Disease Fund Inc.: Home
- National Disease Fund Inc.: Charity Navigator
- National Disease Fund Inc.: GuideStar
- National Disease Fund Inc.: Annual Report
- National Disease Fund Inc.: Achievements
- National Disease Fund Inc.: Donate
- American Chronic Pain Association: Home
- American Chronic Pain Association: Charity Navigator
- American Chronic Pain Association: Resources
- American Chronic Pain Association: Video Library
- American Chronic Pain Association: Guide
- American Chronic Pain Association: Donate
- Cystic Fibrosis Foundation: Home
- Cystic Fibrosis Foundation: Charity Navigator
- Cystic Fibrosis Foundation: GuideStar
- Cystic Fibrosis Foundation: Research
- Cystic Fibrosis Foundation: About Us
- Cystic Fibrosis Foundation: Annual Report
- Cystic Fibrosis Foundation: Donate
- Cystic Fibrosis Foundation: Get involved
- Hope Charities: Home Page
- GuideStar: Hope Charities
- Hope Charities: Programs
- Hope Charities: What We Do
- Hope Charities: Donate
- Hope Charities: Upcoming Events
- Hope Charities: Online Events and Prizes
- HealthWell Foundation: Home Page
- GuideStar: HealthWell Foundation
- Charity Navigator: HealthWell Foundation
- HealthWell Foundation: What We Do
- HealthWell Foundation: Disease and Medication Funds
- HealthWell Foundation: Annual Report
- HealthWell Foundation: Donate
- HealthWell Foundation: Twitter Handle
- lazarex Cancer Foundation: Home
- lazarex Cancer Foundation: Charity Navigator
- lazarex Cancer Foundation: GuideStar
- lazarex Cancer Foundation: About Us
- lazarex Cancer Foundation: Statistics
- lazarex Cancer Foundation: Donate
- lazarex Cancer Foundation: Events
- American Kidney Fund: Home
- American Kidney Fund: Charity Navigator
- American Kidney Fund: GuideStar
- American Kidney Fund: Mission
- American Kidney Fund: Research
- American Kidney Fund: Advocacy
- American Kidney Fund: Mission
- American Kidney Fund: Research
- American Kidney Fund: Annual Report
- Michigan Parkinson Foundation: Home
- Michigan Parkinson Foundation: About Us
- Michigan Parkinson Foundation: Charity Navigator
- Michigan Parkinson Foundation: Annual Report
- Michigan Parkinson Foundation: Donate
- Michigan Parkinson Foundation: Volunteer