By John Lavey | Hammock President/COO

Reports circulated last week that one in three GoFundMe campaigns were set up to help people pay medical bills is an amazing—though depressing—statistic. According to the CEO of the popular crowdsourced fundraising platform, more than $650 million is raised on the site every year for medical bills alone. And, in the past eight years since it began, the site has raised more than $5 billion from 50 million donations.

When I read the GoFundMe statistics, which I have every reason to believe are true, I was reminded of another stat I’ve heard many times: More than half of personal bankruptcies are due to medical bills, according to a 2009 study published in the American Journal of Medicine. However, those particular statistics are in dispute, and debate continues to rage about the contribution of medical debt to personal bankruptcies. For instance, some studies conclude the numbers are more like 4 percent (PDF), according to a paper published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

I can’t say which percentage is most accurate, but the search made me think about our responsibility as content creators to use credible sources for our information and cite the source of these statistics. We would never share clinical content on behalf of a client without confidence that the medical information was validated, and we should apply the same standards to any information we share.

I read a lot of information from various sources when trying to understand a complicated challenge facing an already complex industry. I read quickly, but I have to remember to read carefully and critically. I need to be just as careful in what I write, speak or share via social media. Even a retweet without context can be misconstrued and damage your credibility.

Every time we create a white paper or create an infographic that anyone can find via Google, we are shaping the conversation. Your reputation as an organization or a brand is incumbent on the ability of your audience to trust the credibility of the content you create.

Takeaway: We talk a lot about creating helpful content, not hyping who you are. For content to be truly helpful, it must first be accurate, responsible and carefully sourced.

Photo: Getty Images

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