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American Kidney Fund

Fighting on all fronts


AKF fights kidney disease on all fronts, with programs supporting early detection, disease management, research, advocacy, and financial assistance. AKFworks on behalf of the 37 million Americans living with kidney disease, and the millions more at risk.

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Why should I support your work?

When you join our fight, you change lives. You help us empower people to prevent kidney disease and slow its progression. You make lifesaving health care affordable and accessible for patients. You support innovations in education for patients and professionals. You promote advances in nephrology research. You’re by our side as we fight for patient rights in Congress and the states. And, you help us give voice to the patient story.

AKF is one of the nation’s highest-rated charities, investing 97 cents of every donated dollar in patients and programs. We provide critically needed services while maintaining the highest 4-Star Charity Rating (Exceptional) for 19 consecutive years from Charity Navigator, the nation’s leading charity watchdog agency.  In addition, the American Kidney Fund has an “A Plus” rating from CharityWatch, adheres to the National Health Council Standards of Excellence, and is a member of the Better Business Bureau Wise Giving Alliance.

Why does your charity exist?

More than 785,000 Americans are living with kidney failure. Of those, nearly 555,000 are on dialysis and 230,000 are living with kidney transplants. The number of people who need kidney transplants is far greater than the number of available donor organs. There are 93,000 Americans on the waiting list for a kidney transplant, but less than 24,000 kidneys were transplanted in the U.S. last year.

Kidney failure devastates patients physically, emotionally, and financially. Employment rates for U.S. dialysis patients have been reported as low as 20% because of the time-consuming treatments and impacts of the illness. In 2020, the typical patient AKF assisted with treatment-related expenses had an annual household income of less than $25,000, yet faced out-of-pocket costs of nearly $10,000.

AKF’s financial assistance programs ensure that these patients continue to have access to their lifesaving treatments.

More broadly, AKF is working to educate the public about kidney disease and help people detect it early so they can avoid progressing to kidney failure through disease management education, award-winning public and professional health education materials, courses, webinars, andAKF’s virtual Kidney Action Week.

What specifically do you do?

The American Kidney Fund provides a complete spectrum of programs and services: prevention activities, top-rated health educational resources, and direct financial assistance enabling 1 in 6 U.S. dialysis patients to access lifesaving medical care, including dialysis and transplantation.

We also invest in clinical research to improve outcomes for kidney patients and we fight tirelessly on Capitol Hill for legislation and policies supporting the issues that are important to the people we serve. 

How will this make a difference?

Kidney disease is striking Americans at a faster rate than any other non-communicable disease. For the 37 million people in the United States who are living with this serious condition, the American Kidney Fund is the trusted nonprofit that is fighting on all fronts—from prevention through transplant.

Through our programs that support early detection, disease management, innovation and clinical research, advocacy, and financial assistance, we are making a difference in more lives than any other kidney nonprofit. 

How is your work different from that of other, similar charities?

No organization provides the broad scope of vital programs that help people at every step of their journey with kidney disease. Last year, AKF provided direct financial assistance to 1 out of every 6 Americans living with kidney failure.

In response to the COVID-19 crisis, we activated a nationwide program, the American Kidney Fund Coronavirus Emergency Fund (CEF), to provide critically needed financial assistance in the form of $250 grants to low-income dialysis and recent transplant patients who are facing unexpected challenges as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

What have you accomplished?

American Kidney Fund’s 50thAnniversary

Fifty years ago, a small group of friends created a nonprofit that in its first year saved the lives of 79 people with kidney failure, and a mission was born. In 2021,the American Kidney Fund (AKF) marksits 50th anniversary of fighting for patients and families, driven by the same spirit of compassion and commitment that fueled its founding in 1971.

Making a tangible positive difference in the lives of people with kidney disease and those at-risk has been at the heart of AKF’s mission since its founding. Over the past half century, AKF has...

• Provided lifesaving financial assistance to more than 2 million kidney patients.

• Funded clinical research grants to many scholars through the Clinical Scientist in Nephrology program.

• Provided access to award-winning education content on to more than 42 million people.

Here are afew more ways AKF continued to meet the needs of kidney patients in 2020:

•Coronavirus Emergency Fund (CEF): The CEF provided over $3.1million to nearly13,000 kidney patients who are facing unexpected challenges as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition, we provided access to COVID-19 educational resources, which have been utilized by approximately 400,000 patients and caregivers.

•Financial Assistance Programs: AKF provided direct financial assistance to more than 94,000 low-income dialysis and transplant patients. We helped nearly 75,000 patients in 2020 pay their health insurance premiums so that they could access the health care they need to stay alive, including dialysis and transplant.

1,615 low-income dialysis patients had kidney transplants and post-transplant care with AKF’s financial support, a scope of assistance for kidney transplant that is unmatched in the nonprofit community. AKF’s health insurance premium grants made possible 7% of all kidney transplants performed in the United States. And, each month, we help more than 100 people get off dialysis by providing financial assistance that makes transplants possible.

Through our Safety Net Program, more than 5,500 kidney patients were able to pay for transportation to dialysis, nutritional products, emergency assistance and other expenses not covered by health insurance. We provided disaster relief assistance to more than 300 patients affected by hurricanes Laura and Sally, as well as earthquakes in Puerto Rico and wildfires on the West Coast.

In addition, in early 2021, AKF mobilized to help dialysis and post-transplant patients in Texas facing an extreme crisis due to power outages and overwhelmed and frozen water systems in the state. AKF activated its Disaster Relief Program to provide emergency funds to help kidney patients affected by the winter storm. In just a few days, we received nearly 2,000 applications from dialysis and post-transplant patients. We provided over 1,600 grants totaling over $325,000. These emergency funds helped patients purchase kidney-friendly foods, find transportation to dialysis, and replace lost or destroyed medications.

•Clinical Scientist in Nephrology (CSN) Program: For over 31years, AKF’s CSN program has supported clinical research to improve the quality of care provided to kidney patients. To learn about the research of our 2020 fellows, Dr. Lucas and Dr. Tio, please visit

•Advocacy Day-A Virtual Fly-In:  24 AKF Ambassadors met with lawmakers virtually to discuss issues of vital importance to kidney patients, including health disparities and extending Medicare immunosuppressive drug coverage for people who receive kidney transplants.


AKF has also spearheaded legislation to provide legal protections to living organ donors, over the past two years working closely with lawmakers in 12 states to get these bills passed and signed into law, and has worked with Congress to advance the federal Living Donor Protection Act, which has been reintroduced. And AKF worked tirelessly for passage of the landmark lifetime Medicare immunosuppressivecoverage bill that was recently signed into law.


The American Kidney Fund also released its first annual State of the States: Living Donor Protection Report Card, which grades how well laws in each U.S. state and the District of Columbia remove financial and insurance barriers for living organ donors. AKF has been working at the state and federal levels to get such legislation passed. The report card highlights the need for federal legislation establishing a uniform baseline of support for would-be donors, as states are operating with an uneven patchwork of living donor protection laws.


The AKF Living Donor Protection Report Card assigns an A, B, C, D, or F grade to all states and the District of Columbia. It measures whether the states have in place seven different categories of legislation, including anti-discrimination for life, disability or long-term care insurance; job-protected leave from private employers; job-protected leave from public employers; tax credits for employers who provide paid leave; tax credits or tax deductions for donor expenses; paid leave via Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) laws; and extended leave (more than 60 days) via FMLA laws.


Two states—Arkansas and Connecticut—received an A grade, while 27 states received a B or C grade. Twenty-two states received a grade of a D or F, with the national average grade being a D. To see how your state was graded, please visit


•Kidney Action Week:  AKF held a virtual Kidney Action Week, to help people understand their risk for kidney disease and how to prevent it through webinars and online activities.


•The Hope Affair: A virtual program, AKF’s annual Hope Affair raised awareness for kidney disease and spotlighted extraordinary patients and friends in the community.


Summer Enrichment Program: Virtual Bingo allowed 45 kids with kidney disease to just be kids for a night with a virtual game of bingo and a pizza party!


•Online Resources: In 2020, more than 3,350 health care professionals, patients,and students registered to take AKF’s 10 free, online, accredited CE courses and 1 CME course. In total, there were 7,403 courses completed. Over 194,000 people learned about living well with kidney disease by viewing our free monthly patient and caregiver webinars.Our patient newsletter reaches about 75,000 dialysis and transplant patients quarterly with articles designed to inform and inspire

How can I be sure you’ll use my money wisely?

We are recognized as one of the nation’s most trusted nonprofit organizations. We continue our longstanding record of spending 97 cents of every donated dollar on programs and services.

In 2021, we received our 19th consecutive "Four Star" rating from Charity Navigator, placing us in Charity Navigator's "Top 10" list of organizations with the most consecutive "Four Star" ratings. In addition, the American Kidney Fund has an “A Plus” rating from CharityWatch, adheres to the National Health Council Standards of Excellence, and is a member of the Better Business Bureau Wise Giving Alliance.