The kidneys are a small, but oh-so-vital part of maintaining health, wellness, and life itself. They filter waste products from the blood and prevent them from creating a fatal toxicity. When kidneys fail, the results can be devastating. With the fear and expense that immediately ensues, most patients benefit from an advocate. That is where the American Kidney Fund can benefit you.

Regular dialysis can provide a measure of relief, acting as an external filter, but the waste rebuilds quickly and keeping a healthy balance of fluids and nutrition while undergoing dialysis can become excruciatingly complicated. This life-saving procedure is not without pain, and those who are dependent on this treatment are often exhausted and feel that they are just hanging on.

Who Benefits From the American Kidney Fund

Smiling Lady Who Benefited From the American Kidney Fund after receiving kidney transplant

Image: CC by 2.0, Corey Ralston, via Flickr

People who have been diagnosed with kidney disease and those who are suffering from kidney failure face the potential of financial ruin, along with major life changes. These form the major recipients of help from the American Kidney Fund. There is a great need for financial help and educational guidance among kidney patients. While not all people who suffer from kidney failure are candidates due to heart disease and other problems, a kidney transplant can restore health and vitality to a much greater measure.

The expense of the procedure and the continuous need for anti-rejection drugs and monitoring are prohibitive for those without the financial means or adequate medical insurance. The American Kidney Fund (AKF) can be an invaluable asset to help patients with these concerns.

The American Kidney Fund Mission and Vision

american kidney fund custom logo banner

Logo Image via Canva

The AFK is a not-for-profit organization and the leading charity in the United States. They are fighting for Americans with kidney disease on a number of levels. From education and prevention to financial assistance and clinical research, they are deeply invested in doing all they can to ensure that kidney patients have a more positive outcome and better quality of life. They also push for legislation on Capitol Hill that can help provide programs and policies to help kidney patients. AKF is able to help one in five dialysis patients find their way through dialysis and transplantation where applicable.

The vision of the American Kidney Fund is to move forward with help, education, and research, looking forward to a day when there need not be any more kidney disease. They act on what they know and can do to help those with kidney disease fight it, manage it, and wherever possible, prevent it.

Board of trustees

The American Kidney Fund is operated by caring individuals who understand the seriousness of kidney disease and the difficulty of its treatment. Their Board of Trustees is comprised of non-compensated volunteers who have either experienced kidney disease first-hand or come from a wide spectrum of professional backgrounds, and who have the skills and abilities to contribute oversight to the critical business of helping. They have tight recordkeeping processes and a whistleblower system that prevents issues of graft or misuse.

Executive team

The Executive Team are the managers who work to make sure that the programs and services offered by the American Kidney Fund are providing the essential help that is needed by patients to make the most of their health and survival. They also provide oversight of the Leadership Team.

The leadership team

The leadership team of The American Kidney Fund is a multifaceted organization. They really work to cover all the bases, so to speak, helping promote awareness of kidney disease. They are comprised of Public Relations, Government Relations, Development and Field Operations, and the Finance and Operations divisions. This ensures that their gathered medical information is accurate and up to date. They also circulate publicity to make people aware of their services. Fundraising can be successful, and that all is done within compliance with government regulations.

How the American Kidney Fund Raises Money

Acquired Dialysis Chairs for Patients Waiting for Kidney Dialysis for the American Kidney Fund

Image: CC by 2.0, Dialyspa, via Flickr

Close to 500,000 people deal with the everyday struggle of dialysis. This process is exhausting and incredibly expensive. A man undergoing dialysis three days a week for five years can expect to get a bill well over $200,000 annually. Insurance, if you have it, helps a great deal. But the balance is still large, and the medications and doctor visits that go along with it are staggering.

Thousands more are faced with the reality of kidney disease and kidney failure each year. Dialysis, transplants, medications, and education are costly — prohibitively so. Many people don’t know where to start or what their options are. Many individuals lose their lives because of inadequate financial resources. The AKF hopes to prevent this from happening to anyone, and with close to 100,000 patients needing assistance each year, fundraisers, grants, and individual donors are all critical to providing the AKF with the funds needed to offer the help they so desperately need.


Additionally, this help would not be possible without the support and contributions from donors. More than 61,000 individuals, businesses, foundations, and corporations have set up regular donations to keep this cause going. They have the highest ratings from those who regulate such organizations to prevent graft and misuse and to assure fiscal responsibility — ratings they are proud of and strive to maintain year after year. AKF holds fundraisers such as fun runs, food and beer pairings, The Hope Affair, AKF’s Annual Gala, and Kidney Action Day, which includes free kidney health screenings, fitness activities, and entertainment.

The American Kidney Fund’s Reputation and Rating

Charity oversight group Charity Navigator rated the American Kidney Fund with four out of four stars. They awarded this charity with 90.55 out of 100 points overall. They gave AKF 91.14 points out of 100 for financial management and 90.00 out of 100 for accountability and transparency.

The American Kidney Fund’s financial data

Tax-exempt organizations, nonexempt charitable trusts, and section 527 political organizations must file a Form 990 or 990EZ with the IRS.

The American Kidney Fund’s most recent IRS Form 990 or 990EZ available is for 2017. We discovered the following financial details on the organization’s most recent publicly available tax return filing for their fiscal year ending December 2017. This financial statement can give you a clearer picture of how they use their resources.

Percentage of donations spent on services

  • Total donations and grants: $298,438,440
  • Spent on services and grants: $287,602,779
  • Percentage of donations toward grants and services: 96.36 percent

Percentage of revenue spent on fundraising

  • Total revenue: $298,961,906
  • Fundraising expenses: $4,921,788
  • Paid to professional fundraisers: $232,301
  • Percentage of total revenue spent on fundraising:  1.64 percent

Administrative and overhead costs

  • Overhead expenses: $2,121,515
  • Property assets: $1,420,589
  • Investment assets: $12,408,866
  • Paid to officers/directors: $1,997,017
  • Highest paid officer/director: CEO $590,795
  • Percentage of total revenue spent on officers/directors salaries: 0.66 Percent

How The American Kidney Fund Can Help

A thankful grandfather while receiving free regular dialysis from The American Kidney Fund

Image: CC by A-SA 2.0, shanelkalicharan, via Flickr

AKF’s assistance for kidney patients comes in many forms for those who can prove that they qualify for the assistance. There are several different types of programs available to help as many different needs as possible. AKF has a good deal of oversight, checks, and balances to assure that 97 cents out of every dollar they receive are actually donated to deserving patients and programs. Let’s look at a few of the programs they offer kidney patients and their loved ones.

1. Health Insurance Premium Program

The Health Insurance Premium Program or HIPP may help qualified patients pay a portion of their health care premiums. Where charged for these services, help may be available to help pay for Medicare Part B, Medigap, Medicare Advantage, and Medicaid. They may also help pay for COBRA plans or those offered by employers.

2. Safety Net grants

AKF’s Safety Net is a grant program that they designed specifically to assist kidney donors with the travel expenses and lodging, or even paychecks forfeited too, relevant to the life-saving procedure they have agreed to undertake.

In addition, this program may also provide some help for patients undergoing dialysis such as co-payments, medications, and transportation, as well as related expenses such as dentures. These grants are not large, but they are far-reaching. They are able to give a $100 annual grant to over 10,000 patients across the United States.

3. Disaster relief grants

Furthermore, floods, earthquakes, tornados, and other natural disasters can wreak havoc on someone with kidney disease and a dialysis schedule to keep. The Disaster Relief Program can help with food and clothing, household items, replacement of lost medications, and other essentials.

4. Children’s relief camps

Children are the most vulnerable segment of our society, and having a child diagnosed with kidney disease can be devastating. The AKF holds an annual Summer Enrichment Camp especially for children with kidney disease or kidney failure. These camps include all the fun of a regular summer camp but with a full medical staff and facilities to continue treatments and handle emergencies that may arise.

5. Help with prescriptions

Likewise, dialysis alone is not enough to treat kidney failure. An expensive supplement such as Renvela can run as high as $1,500 a month at the local pharmacy. This drug is essential to controlling calcium levels. Because kidney failure breeds many other issues such as gastroparesis, neuropathy, and anemia, expensive prescriptions can become a big problem. Medicare and other insurance policies may require additional fees or add-ons to cover prescriptions.  If someone meets certain qualifications, they may be eligible to receive help with prescription costs. Through the American Kidney Fund, qualified patients may have access to either The Patient Advocate Foundation or The Partnership for Prescription Assistance. Both of which have lists of financial assistance programs sponsored by drug companies.

We Need Them, They Need Us

Arm of patient receiving dialysis from the American Kidney Fund

Image: CC0 1.0, Anna Frodesiak, via Wikipedia Commons

Diabetes, high blood pressure, and certain medications can contribute to kidney disease and kidney failure, which in turn can cause a myriad of other diseases and/or complications. For those who suffer from the effects of kidney disease or failure, the future can seem doubtful and dark. Most notably, treatments such as dialysis, expensive medications, and the potential of a possible transplant may seem unmanageable. And, financing them may seem impossible.

The American Kidney Fund, which depends heavily on the generous donations of individuals and corporations for their funding, can provide education and financial assistance to kidney patients and their families. Likewise, their meticulous management and careful oversight have them rated as a top charitable organization. And one that they trust to use the money they raise for the cause itself. Ultimately, AKF is giving kidney patients a hand up and hope for a healthier future and a better outlook.

Featured Image: CC0 1.0, Anna Frodesiak, via Wikipedia Commons

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