How to Get Help For Paying Unexpected Bills: What You Need to Know

| 10 min read Financial Assistance

One unexpected emergency can wreak havoc on your finances, wiping out your savings and leaving you with piles of unpaid bills. Thankfully, there are nonprofit and government programs as well as crowdfunding resources that can help you get back on your feet. For those scrambling, because they need help paying bills now, we’ve compiled the best resources that can help you address your financial hurdles. Learn how to get help with bills now.

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Charities that help with bills

There are many charities eager to help out if you need to skip a single bill payment, or if you’re already experiencing a financial crisis. Below are some of the most well-known nonprofit organizations that can help you pay medical bills or find safe housing.

Charities that help with car costs 

For millions of Americans, having access to a reliable vehicle allows them to travel to work, visit family members, and go to doctor appointments. Without a car, everyday life can screech to a halt. When you apply to these programs and qualify, you can find help getting from point A to point B with safety in mind.

Working Cars for Working Families

This organization distributes cars to families in need, makes low-interest loans for car purchases, and matches savings for down payments, among other services.

Ways to Work

Ways to Work is a nonprofit that helps thousands of families in the Greater Richmond and Lynchburg areas with less than perfect credit obtain auto loans and build credit.

Good News Garage

Founded in 1996, this organization provides low-income families with refurbished vehicles. It repairs donated vehicles in the New England region, then turns them over to those in need.

Charities that help with medical bills

Although people have insurance, they still face high costs for medical treatments due to the current healthcare system. Those without insurance have to pay even more out of pocket, which can be incredibly expensive. Charities listed below can help with medical bills for uninsured people. They can also connect you with resources to find government help with medical bills. Here’s how to get emergency help with medical bills. 


United Way’s 2-1-1 program helps people understand complex health care options by connecting them with resources on a range of issues, from disaster relief to health services.

National Association of & Charitable Clinics (NAFC) 

The NAFC comprises over 1,400 clinics across the US to help with medical bills for low-income individuals to access affordable medical treatment. It provides a list of services to those in need, including dental, medical, pharmacy, vision, and other health services.

Healthwell Foundation

For those who need help with medical bills, the HealthWell Foundation is striving to find a solution. This nonprofit organization offers help with medical bills for uninsured individuals and families. Programs help cover everything from copays to deductibles to travel costs. Certain conditions apply when seeking help from this program.

Family Reach 

Family Reach provides financial support to families fighting cancer by assisting with everyday living expenses, like help with mortgage payments. It also helps families with financial planning to avoid bankruptcy that often accompanies a cancer diagnosis.

Charities that help with utility bills

A brightly-lit home, food in the refrigerator, and running water are conveniences that are easy to take for granted until they’re suddenly gone. If you need help with your utility bills, consider one of these programs.

The Salvation Army 

Sometimes you need emergency help with bills ASAP, luckily you can turn to the Salvation Army. This reputable company has a HeatShare program that helps families with utility bills like electricity, natural gas, and oil and propane costs on a yearly basis.

Modest Needs

Modest Needs’ main focus has been working since 2002 to provide a temporary financial aid service to people who don’t have a security nest-egg and live paycheck to paycheck. The organization awards grants that can be used to pay for short-term expenses.

Citizens Energy 

Citizen Energy’s program called JOE-4-SUN reduces utility costs with its low-income community solar program. Residents of Massachusetts and New York can save $300 to $400 per year on electricity on average if you qualify.

Charities that help with housing costs

Housing costs are typically one of the most significant monthly expenses on the budget. If you need help with mortgage payments when the first of the month rolls around or searching for a safe and affordable home, these charities want to help.

Community Action Partnership

The Community Action Partnership strives to combat poverty, improve lives, and change communities for the better. It has helped over 148,000 families find safe and affordable housing through its various programs.

Volunteers of America

For over a century, this organization has been in the business of providing affordable housing to veterans, the elderly, and those with physical and mental disabilities. Volunteers of America has properties in 42 states that it uses to house those in need.

Mercy Housing

Mercy Housing is passionate about serving low-income families, people with special needs, and the elderly by finding them affordable housing. The organization’s methods center around renovating existing housing and also building new rental properties.

Government assistance with bills

Depending on your situation, government programs can be a lifeline while you get back on track. You can seek government help with medical bills, mortgage payments, and phone bills with federal and state programs. Keep in mind that most government programs require you to go through an application process.

Government help with medical bills 

Whether it’s a trip to the doctor’s office, emergency room, or long-term chemo treatments, these visits can lead to hefty medical bills. If you’re close to medical bankruptcy, the government programs below can help with bills based on your personal situation.


PACE, which stands for Program of All-inclusive Care for the Elderly, offers to help pay bills and medical expenses for low-income elderly folks. Those 55 and over can receive funding for the cost of adult primary daycare and home care.

Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP)

Under CHIP, children in a family of four earning up to $50,000 a year or more may receive low-cost hospital visits, dental care, prescriptions, and more if they qualify.


While this organization is a 501(c)(3), it helps people find government assistance through state-sponsored programs. The organization’s website lists government programs that help with health insurance, disease screening, general medical care, low-cost prescriptions, and more.

Government help with utility bills

It can be easy to fall behind on monthly utility bills, especially in the summer and winter when energy costs are sky-high. If you need help with utility bills, these government programs can help you have a safe and comfortable home and pay your bills.

The Low Income Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) 

The LEAP program helps low-income households pay their heating and cooling bills and reduce their overall energy consumption.

Lifeline Program for Low-Income Consumers

The Federal Communications Commission’s Lifeline Program lowers the cost of phone bills and internet service for low-income individuals and families.

Weatherization Assistance Program

The Weatherization Assistance Program gets to the root cause of high energy bills by optimizing the energy efficiency of homes for 35,000 low-income households every year. The program helps households save $372 or more a year.

Government help with mortgage payments and safe housing

These government programs are designed to eliminate the financial barriers that prevent families from having a safe and affordable place to call home and receive help with bills.

Housing Choice Voucher Program (Section 8)

The Section 8 program helps people secure affordable and sanitary housing. Local public housing agencies (PHAs) provide housing vouchers to people so they can choose their own housing and pay the difference after applying for the voucher.

Cash-out Refinance Loan

This VA-backed home loan program allows qualified veterans to trade equity from their homes for cash to help pay off debt or make home improvements.

Rural Housing Aid

The Rural Development Program helps those who live in an eligible rural area make rent or mortgage payments through direct loans and grants. Funds can be used to buy or improve land, build new housing, purchase and rehabilitate buildings, and more.

Using crowdfunding to pay bills

Emergencies like car accidents or devastating house fires can wipe out your savings account and leave you with bills and debt for years in the future. Countless people have launched “help me pay my bills” emergency fundraising efforts through GoFundMe when they didn’t know how to get help paying bills.

Crowdfunding lets you raise money online from your friends, family, and community. While some people aren’t sure if their need is worthy enough for an online fundraiser, know there is no cause too small or too big for GoFundMe.

Why fundraising makes a difference

Most government and nonprofit programs have strict eligibility requirements, long wait times, and a capped amount of money they can offer. These factors often make it challenging to receive the financial help you need right when needed. Online fundraising is often the quickest and most efficient way to get help with bills and find emergency financial assistance

Through GoFundMe, you can start raising money immediately and even start an emergency fund without going through a government office. Setting up a GoFundMe takes just a few minutes, and we make it easy to share your crowdfunding fundraiser with people who can rally around you. 

Tips for running a successful fundraiser 

Once you’ve launched your GoFundMe, you’ll probably be focused on hitting your fundraising goals. These additional fundraising tips will help you create a fundraiser that encourages people to donate:

  • Add photos and videos to your fundraiser to help tell your story and captivate readers.
  • Use social media to promote your fundraiser, from TikTok to Instagram and even NextDoor.
  • Aside from social media, share your fundraiser link with everyone you know through text, email, WhatsApp, and phone calls. Read our blog post 42 ways to share offline for more ideas.
  • Learn how to ask for donations effectively so people will be more willing to donate.
  • Be sure to post a fundraiser update about once a week to remind people that you still need help. Don’t forget to include any important news—both good and bad.

See how others use GoFundMe to pay bills

When unfortunate circumstances left them in dire straits, these folks found help through our crowdfunding site.

Olivia Stoy: Transplant & Liv it up!

Olivia was just an average middle school girl living in a small town in Indiana when a cancer diagnosis turned her world upside down. After chemotherapy failed to stop the cancer, doctors recommended a bone marrow transplant. Olivia’s family couldn’t afford the $350,000 surgery, so a friend came to the rescue and helped raise over $300,000 in just five months through GoFundMe.

Oliphant Family car

Jen and her daughter were driving home on a Wisconsin highway when they spotted a car in flames on the side of the road. They pulled over to help and discovered that the family ran into car trouble shortly after being discharged from the hospital. The family’s 5-year-old son Jackson had been in the hospital recovering from a liver transplant. Wanting to help them during a tough time, Jen started a GoFundMe. She raised over $50,000 so the family could purchase a new car and go to doctors’ appointments.

Find financial relief right now

Becoming debt-free doesn’t need to take months or years when you can start raising funds for bills right away through crowdfunding. If you still need emergency help with bills after exploring government and charity programs, GoFundMe can support you in finding financial stability. Setting up a “help pay my bills” campaign is simple. Start a fundraiser today and begin focusing on what matters.

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Written by GoFundMe