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ICU StoryWeb: Healing through the power of stories

Raised toward our $5,000 Goal
87 Donors
Project has ended
Project ended on July 19, at 11:59 PM EDT
Project Owners

Update #11: BIG news and new stories!

December 10, 2015

Dear Loyal Supporter,

We are so excited to share some BIG news with you: we recently received an incredibly generous and unexpected $30,000 gift from the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation to provide additional content for ICU StoryWeb! The Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation is based in the San Francisco Bay Area and works with both local and worldwide partners to create enduring impact for future generations in four program areas: Environmental Conservation, Patient Care, Science, and the San Francisco Bay Area. We are humbled by and grateful for their enthusiasm and support.

With this infusion of funding, we are planning to take ICU StoryWeb on the road in 2016 to expand our geographic reach and to increase the diversity of our storytellers and their experiences. Over the next several months, we will work with palliative and critical care colleagues across the U.S. to plan site visits and record a handful of stories at each location. We look forward to sharing the details with you as our plans develop!

Head over to ICU StoryWeb now to listen to two newly uploaded stories (or click on the direct links below)!

None of this would be possible without your support. You have helped us develop a website that is attractive to users and funders, collect additional stories, and move closer toward fully realizing a resource that has the potential to help patients, their families, and their providers for years to come. Thank you!


With gratitude,

Rachel Butler

Executive Director

ICU StoryWeb

Update #10: Exciting update!

November 11, 2015

Since our crowdfunding campaign ended in July, we have been hard at work making ICU StoryWeb a reality. We were fortunate to have a very talented Pitt student, John Abraham, revamp the website based on our user testing feedback, and we are excited for you to see it and let us know what you think! Check out our brand new website here, and send us your feedback!

In addition to completing all 10 website user tests, we have collected an additional 13 stories, and we have plans to collect 12 more over the next several weeks. If you know anyone with a story to tell, please refer them to us! Potential participants can email or call 412-692-4874 to obtain more information. We are in the process of having these recently recorded stories transcribed and edited by our amazing colleague, Chaela Herridge-Meyer, of The Recollective. We hope to have several more edited stories added to the website by the end of the year. Please stay tuned - we have more amazing stories coming your way!

The response so far to ICU StoryWeb has been overwhelmingly positive, and we couldn't have done any of it without YOU. We look forward to keeping you posted on the exciting developments. In the meantime, we hope you will continue to spread the word about ICU StoryWeb - tell your friends, family, and colleagues about our new site, and please encourage them to check it out! The more people who know about it, the more likely people who need to find ICU StoryWeb will find it. 

Thank you!

Rachel & Amber

Update #1: We're on our way!

May 27, 2015

We're just 24 hours into the ICU StoryWeb crowdfunding campaign, and we've hit the 20% mark, raising $1,000 of our $5,000 goal!

You, ICU StoryWeb's supporters, are making this happen. Together, we are revolutionizing the conversation about end-of-life care. Because of your support, families will feel empowered to share their unique stories about making a decision to limit life support for a loved one in the ICU. Sharing these stories can help families heal and feel less alone. Meanwhile, the medical community can learn from each story and find ways to improve patient care and communication.

We need your help to keep this momentum going. Share this campaign with your family, your friends, and your colleagues, and encourage them to share, as well. Use our sample Facebook and Twitter posts to share ICU StoryWeb with your networks. Send some emails using our email template.

Let's make this campaign a success! Together we can make it happen!


Facebook posts

The decision to limit life support for a loved one in the ICU is difficult. It’s also more common than you may think. Donate to @ICUStoryWeb and be part of a national revolution to change the conversation about end-of-life care.

Listen to stories. Share yours. Connect with resources. Check out @ICUStoryWeb and consider donating today.

Individuals who make the difficult decision to limit life support for a loved one in the ICU are likely to experience negative mental health outcomes. Storytelling after a traumatic event has shown to improve those outcomes. Donate to @ICUStoryWeb and help bereaved ICU families make meaning of their experience.


Twitter posts

Share your story & heal together after the loss of a loved one in an ICU. Check out @ICUStoryWeb and donate today:

@ICUStoryWeb is on to something big. Check it out and donate today:

You can be part of the national #revolution to change the #conversation about #EOL care.


E-mail template:

Dear XX,

I am supporting a University of Pittsburgh-based project called ICU StoryWeb. ICU StoryWeb helps people make meaning after the death of a loved one in the ICU by providing a digital platform to listen to other people’s stories, share their own story, and connect with helpful community resources, such as grief support groups and tools for advance care planning. It is a place where people can have their grief normalized and validated, important steps in the grief process. ICU StoryWeb is the first tool developed specifically for bereaved ICU families immediately following the death of a loved one. You can view a beta version of their website here.

ICU StoryWeb is one of the first research projects at Pitt to explore the use of crowdfunding in research. The funds raised during the campaign will go toward collecting additional stories, editing by a professional producer, user testing and refinement of the website, and the cost of incorporation as a non-profit organization. The crowdfunding campaign begins Tuesday, May 26th and runs through Monday, July 20th. I hope you will consider joining me in support of this project and donate today.

With gratitude,


Update #2: Oops!

June 01, 2015

It has come to our attention that some of you, our wonderful and generous supporters, are having issues accessing our main site, From what we have heard so far, it seems the issue is mainly experienced by those attempting to access the website from larger health system networks, such as the VA. We imagine there are IT security measures in place that are preventing users from accessing ICU StoryWeb. For this, we are ever so sorry, but we invite you to buckle your seat belts and join us for this exciting adventure!

By now you know that we worked with a couple of computer science students at Pitt to design our website. This project was a great experience for us and for them, but as you can imagine, our website is still very much in the beta stage with room for improvement. User testing of our website is a critical component of our upcoming activities, for which this crowdfunding campaign will largely support. We are currently in the process of hiring a team member with experience in web development and software testing to aid us in this process, which is very exciting! One of the first projects we hope to have him tackle is how to design a website that will be accessible to as many people as possible, especially health care providers who are looking for additional training resources or who may want to share ICU StoryWeb's content with their colleagues, their patients, and their families.

For now, we thank you for being part of our phase I user testing! Your feedback is crucial to the development of ICU StoryWeb. If you experience issues with, we invite and encourage you to let us know: Until we resolve our technical issues, we recommend the following for sharing news about ICU StoryWeb and the crowdfunding campaign:

  1. Use a personal computer, phone, or tablet, not connected to a workplace network, to access and share and recommend that your friends and family do the same.
  2. Share the direct link for our crowdfunding page: We have a lot of great information here that will give your colleagues, friends, and family a better idea of what ICU StoryWeb is all about.
  3. Continue to provide us feedback about your experience using We'd love to hear from you, and we appreciate your support!


Update #3: We need your help!

June 11, 2015

We're 17 days into our campaign, and we've raised $1,660, or 33%, of our goal! That's fantastic, and it's all because of YOU!

There is still a lot of ground to cover to make this campaign a success, and we need your help. We have only 38 days to go, and another $3,340 to raise. Please share this campaign page with your friends and family, and ask them to support this innovative project that means so much to you.

Share these posts with your networks:


The decision to limit life support for a loved one in the ICU is difficult. It’s also more common than you may think. Donate to @ICUStoryWeb and be part of a national revolution to change the conversation about end-of-life care.

Listen to stories. Share yours. Connect with resources. Check out @ICUStoryWeb and consider donating today.

Individuals who make the difficult decision to limit life support for a loved one in the ICU are likely to experience negative mental health outcomes. Storytelling after a traumatic event has shown to improve those outcomes. Donate to @ICUStoryWeb and help bereaved ICU families make meaning of their experience.


Share your story & heal together after the loss of a loved one in an ICU. Check out @ICUStoryWeb and donate today:

@ICUStoryWeb is on to something big. Check it out and donate today:

You can be part of the national #revolution to change the #conversation about #EOL care.

If each person reading this encourages their friends and family to donate $1, and those folks encourage their friends and family to donate $1, we'll reach our goal in no time!

We are so grateful for your ongoing support. Thank you! Together, we are fueling a revolution to change the conversation about end-of-life care.

Update #4: We're over halfway there!

June 15, 2015

Our supporters are amazing.

Why, you ask?

Since Friday afternoon, you have come together to raise almost 15% of our total goal. That's almost $750 in just 72 hours. With 34 days left in the campaign, we have raised $2,595, almost 52%, of our $5,000 goal. That's incredible!

So, what can we do with $2,595? 

  • We can compensate all 10 research participants to test our website (10 x $50) = $500
  • We can collect and produce 4, (yes, four!), complete stories (4 x $500) = $2,000
  • We can compensate 1, (almost 2!), participants to record their story (2 x $50) = $100

...and so much more.

If you haven't already, please share our project's page with your friends, family, and colleagues ( ICU StoryWeb has been featured in the June 2015 issue of Pittsburgh Senior Newsand it has been picking up momentum on social media. ICU StoryWeb has been tweeted by: Dr. Ira Byock, a leading palliative care physician and author; Modern Loss, an emerging blog on grief and loss; and Amy Goyer, AARP's family and caregiving expert, and more! Remember, we still have $2,405 left to raise and 34 days to do it! We're certain we can meet - and exceed - our goal!

We are so grateful to our supporters, YOU, for your excitement and financial backing. Your contribution helps us move this research forward and will enable us to create an invaluable tool for grieving individuals and the health care community. You are making further work on this project possible. 



Update #5: Endless gratitude and exciting developments!

June 23, 2015

We've said it before, and we'll say it again: Our supporters are amazing.

For the second weekend in a row, we've seen tremendous progress toward our $5,000 crowdfunding goal. With 26 days to go, we have raised $3,415, or 68% of our total goal. That means we have only $1,585 to raise! We're confident that - together - we can achieve it!

Our crowdfunding campaign has been picked up by the Society for Medical Decision Making and featured on their website! We are very grateful to the individuals who believe, as we do, that ICU StoryWeb is an invaluable tool that will fill an existing void in the support resources available to ICU families - so much so that they are spreading the news within their networks and beyond. The success of this campaign depends on excited supporters, like YOU!

In addition, we are thrilled to welcome John Abraham, our new computer guru, to the ICU StoryWeb team. John is a rising senior in the Computer Science program at Pitt, expecting to graduate in December 2015. He is already hard at work making improvements to the site and has many great ideas. Please stay tuned and let us know your feedback! Later this summer he will assist the study team with usability testing of the website. We look forward to working with him to move this project forward!

Keep up the great work! Share our campaign with your friends, family, and colleagues - post our campaign page to social media, send personal emails, and bring up the campaign in conversation. We couldn't do this without each and every one of you!

The direct link to our campaign to share: 

Update #6: Happy Fourth of July!

July 02, 2015

We have just 17 days remaining, and only $1,085 left to raise! 


That's amazing!


We continue to be overwhelmed by the outpouring of support from you, our backers and cheerleaders. Without your excitement and commitment to seeing this project through, this campaign wouldn't be this close to its goal. Together, we can make this campaign a smashing success! Please keep sharing our crowdfunding page with your family, friends, and colleagues!


What's next?

Our team has an amazing amount of work to do after the holiday weekend. Next week we plan to launch the 'Share' section of, which will enable users to upload their own stories to the website. Also, we will be finalizing our plans for recruitment, storytelling interviews, and usability testing, which means we can start collecting additional stories from research participants and obtaining feedback from users about the website. This will help us make further improvements.

We hope you've had a chance to visit in recent days, as John has been hard at work making the website more engaging, attractive, and easier to use. If you haven't yet, head over to check it out, and please give us your feedback! 

We'll be sure to keep you posted with the most recent developments. From the ICU StoryWeb team, we hope you have a safe and happy Independence Day!


Update #7: We're almost there!

July 10, 2015


We have just 9 DAYS TO GO, and we are SO close to our goal! Thank you for your incredible support - we're almost there!

Now's the time when we have to pick up the pace and crush our goal. If you're reading this, chances are you've already made a financial contribution to this campaign. For that, we're incredibly grateful. YOU are making this campaign possible.

There is one last thing we will ask of you at this point, if you haven't already:

Please share our campaign with your friends, your family, and your colleagues. Send emails, post to your Facebook and Twitter accounts, and strike up conversations.

You can share the direct link to our campaign page:

Copy and share our Facebook and Twitter posts as your updates:


We're almost there! It's the final week of ICU StoryWeb's crowdfunding campaign. Join the revolution today:


One week to go! If you've been thinking about donating to ICU StoryWeb's crowdfunding campaign, now is the time. Donate today:


It's the final week of ICU StoryWeb's crowdfunding campaign. Join the revolution today:

If you've been thinking about donating to ICU StoryWeb, now's the time. 1 week to go!


Together, we can change the conversation about end-of-life care. Thank you for your continued support!





Update #8: We did it, (but we're not done yet)!

July 13, 2015


This amazing community came together to achieve our $5,000 funding goal, and we did so with a week to spare. The excitement generated during this campaign is palpable. We couldn't do any of this without YOU.

The encouragement of you, our supporters, has inspired us to set one final goal - $5,500! 

Any additional money we raise will be used to fund the collection and production of additional stories, advancing important research and social work in end-of-life care and grief support.

Because of your support and enthusiasm, we think this new goal is possible!

You'll see some exciting updates in the coming days. The ICU StoryWeb team is in the process of constructing the beta 'Share' section of the website, which will allow users to submit their own audio or journal-style stories. At the conclusion of this campaign, we'll be fired up to conduct user testing of the site, which will allow us to make even more improvements for future users.

We appreciate your support, and we hope you'll ask your friends, family, and colleagues who have yet to support this project to make a contribution today! If each of you asks 5 people in your network to contribute, we'll reach this new goal in no time!

The link to the campaign is here:


Update #9: THANK YOU!

July 23, 2015

We did it!

We didn't only achieve it - we exceeded it. Together, we completed an wildly successful crowdfunding campaign, raising $5,546. The ICU StoryWeb team couldn't be more grateful to our incredible supporters - that's YOU!

The money raised during this campaign is just the beginning, but it gets us off to a great start. These funds allow us to compensate all of our research participants for their storytelling and website testing contributions, and we'll also be able to professionally produce several stories for These activities will commence soon, and we encourage you to stay tuned for exciting developments as we move forward.

Just as important as the fundraising component is the excitement created during this campaign. We have received many wonderful emails from supporters telling us how much they believe in this project, as well as some telling us they have their own story to tell. Our goal for ICU StoryWeb is that it will be an invaluable tool for ICU families and clinicians - the more people know about ICU StoryWeb, the greater its impact will be. Please continue to share this project with your networks to spread the word!

If you haven't already, please 'Like' us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter! We'll also continue to provide updates through our crowdfunding page. Again, thank you! 


Choose a giving level


Every bit helps us reach our goal!


Supporters at this level fund half of one storytelling session


Supporters at this level fund one ICU StoryWeb usability test


Supporters at this level fund research and text review by a professional producer for one story


Supporters at this level fund the production of one, complete story


Supporters at this level help underwrite the incorporation of ICU StoryWeb as a non-profit organization in Pennsylvania

Our Crowdfunding Groups