Cole, who won multiple trophies under Alex Ferguson at Old Trafford, suffered kidney failure in 2015 after picking up a virus while on tour in Vietnam as a United club ambassador.
He had a life-saving transplant three years ago, with his nephew providing the donor kidney.
The 48-year-old, currently in isolation due to the coronavirus, wants to help others through the Andy Cole Fund run by Kidney Research UK, focusing on research into improving kidney transplants and patient wellbeing.
“I’ve been mentally strong enough to play football, but this is the toughest battle I’ve ever had to deal with,” said Cole, who has been working as an assistant coach at third-tier Southend.
“I don’t want anyone to end up struggling like I did. The mental battle is bigger than the physical problem. Your mind is the most powerful thing in the world.
“My goal now is to find better ways to help make life better for people living with kidney disease or a transplant. If I can help anybody else, then I’ll do just that.”
The Andy Cole Fund aims to raise at least £500,000 ($625,000) over the next three years, with improved mental health and wellbeing one of the core aims.
Former England international Cole, who also played for Newcastle and Manchester City, won five Premier League titles, one Champions League and two FA Cups with Manchester United.