Answer the question, “How can I help?” with First Round’s newest Community member, GiveForward

I could not be more excited to work with Desiree and Ethan and the rest of the GiveForward team to help people all over  the world answer the question, “How can I help?” when someone they care about faces a crisis.

In addition to being drawn to the founding team and their vision for a category defining business, this is an investment where I have a personal connection to the mission. A couple years ago a close friend (who was also a more distant family member) was diagnosed with a very serious and advanced cancer. He needed multiple surgeries and underwent a long period of treatment that had him in and out of the hospital for 6 months. The treatment weakened his system and created a ton of complications that pushed him to the limits in terms of physical survival, mental stamina and financial resources.

My family and friends wanted to help and we looked for ways to support him through this terrible time in any way we could. As individuals, we could spend time, cook meals and talk on the phone, but there was no easy way to coordinate our efforts or to engage our broader networks to provide emotional or financial support.

It was a very tough time for him and his family and unfortunately this happens a ton. Over 72 million Americans take on medical debt each year, and according to a recent Duke Medical study, the average cancer patient will spend $8500 in out-of-pocket expenses in their first year of treatment — a huge burden and very hard to plan for.

Enter GiveForward, a crowd funding site dedicated to helping anyone coordinate support for a friend or family member to help them during a difficult time. The company leverages the power of social distribution to help people create pages and get the support they need to cover things like cancer treatments, organ transplants and even the mortgage or groceries for families dealing with the financial burden of an illness or other crisis. Currently there are 3000+ active fundraisers on the site and the team expects to help members of its community raise $25 to $30 million this year.

I want to thank Desiree and Ethan for joining the First Round Community and really look forward to working with the GiveForward team, smart people dedicated to solving a real problem, and a great group of co-investors including Eric Paley, Naval Ravikant, David Cohen and Howard Lindzon…the only thing I am not looking forward to is winter board meetings in Chicago…