|Type||Health Crisis Information Portal|
|Structure||14 Board Members
66 Paid Staff
|Leadership||Sona Mehring, Founder and Chief Executive Officer|
|Governance||Janice Aune, Chair of the Board|
|Field||Health Crisis Support|
|Scope||Provide communication portals to families and friends during significant health crises|
CaringBridge is a charitable 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization established in 1997, which offers free personalized websites to people facing various medical conditions, hospitalization,medical treatment and/or recovering from a significant accident, illness, injury or procedure. The service allows family members and friends to receive information. Visitors who are provided the personal Website address (or URL) and password, if required, can read updates on the patient's condition and post messages to the family.
CaringBridge allows patients, caregivers, families and friends to exchange information about a patient's medical condition on an ongoing basis. The websites are designed to become conduits between patients, their families, friends, neighbors and colleagues. When visiting an individual’s website, visitors can post messages of support during a significant medical condition, crisis or event. There are several tools to assist individuals in setting up times to visit, preparing meals and/or services for the family.
How it works
Anyone can set up a site for him/herself, a friend or family member. Sites can be accessed on CaringBridge.org or with an iPhone or Android app. The creator enters basic information about the patient or situation, posts photos, and writes about the current condition. As the situation changes, the creator posts updates to that information. When those updates are made, anyone who registered on that website can receive an e-mail or text message notifying them that an update is posted. Guests can also leave messages for the patient or family in an online guestbook on that site. Website authors can share journaling and website tasks with a co-author. Co-authors can add journal entries, post photos and change website settings, allowing multiple people to be directly involved in communicating about a health journey.
CaringBridge is a space for personal and private conversations. CaringBridge does not share or sell user information. In addition to the standard security features, site authors can choose additional levels of security on their site, including adding a password or creating an approved visitor list. The only way to receive a CaringBridge site name is by requesting it from the person who created the site.
Each day, over half-a-million people connect through CaringBridge, which equates to 46 million users per year. In total, those websites have received nearly two billion visits from family and friends.
CaringBridge was created in 1997 by Sona Mehring when a close friend suffered a life-threatening pregnancy. The site was intended to keep family and friends informed about the friend's situation. It then he gained popularity and recognition since its inception.
- 1997: Sona Mehring creates the first site
- 1998: More than 50 sites are established
- 2000: Donor supports begins
- 2001: Board established
- 2002: Nonprofit status is granted
- 2005: Donations top $1 million
- 2006: More than 5,000 sites established
- 2007: First national media coverage
- 2009: Spanish-language access is created
- 2010: CaringBridge.org visits top 1 billion
- 2012: 132,000 donors; 110 volunteers
- 2013: Visits to CaringBridge.org total 46 million
The website and mobile apps allow users to make donations, which are termed "tributes", in the name of specific individuals. The donations support CaringBridge and are not disbursed to individuals or families.
Sona Mehring, founder and CEO of Eagan-based CaringBridge, will release a book in August featuring first-hand narratives from CaringBridge users.
The new book, titled Hope Conquers All, details CaringBridge’s history and also chronicles personal accounts of health issues, including cancer and strokes.
The book details how CaringBridge’s reach quickly grew—46 million individuals worldwide used the network in 2012. The organization reported $8.8 million in 2012 revenue, of which 94.8 percent came through contributions. Today, CaringBridge employs 65, all of whom are based in Minnesota.
Complaints Against CaringBridge
Though CaringBridge has an adoring public and many users that advocate its practices, there are quite a few detractors and legitimate complaints about the site's misguided configuration on user's pages. The main disappointment for most detractors is that the configuration of the site gives the impression that donations are going to specific people due to misleading terms like "Tributes-in honor of...", the prompt that appears when you are in a user's profile and you click on "Donate Today". To add to the confusion, when you click on the Donate prompt, a window configured exactly like the user's page appears, leading the person with the intention of donating, to believe that the charitable gift is going toward the cause of the specific individual on the site visited. There are no conspicuous claims on the CaringBridge site that explain (as above) that "Tributes", are merely in the name of specific individuals and that all of the donations are for the exclusive support of CaringBridge, are not disbursed to individuals or families, and will not be refunded or returned even if the intended gift was given under a false assumption.
- Connections between different personal groups: Newsweek cover story, April 17, 2007, 
- Numbers of those connected by CaringBridge
- Prather, Shannon (June 25, 2012). "CaringBridge connects hearts". StarTribune (Minneapolis, MN).
- National Health Council membership: NationalHealthCouncil.org website.
- BBB.org CaringBridge report