Last week, Kim King outlined some practical ways to help those affected by Hurricane Harvey. This week she provides insight on how you can give wisely to the crowdfunding requests that benefit hurricane victims.
You’ve see them in your Facebook feed or your email inbox: opportunities to join with others to give money directly to help with unexpected expenses, fund a creative project, or support an entrepreneur in a third world country—all through a few keystrokes and the click of a mouse.
This kind of giving is known as crowdfunding. Put simply, crowdfunding websites are online fundraising platforms that provide a mechanism for giving to individuals rather than to charity. Some sites you may have heard of include GoFundMe, Kickstarter, and Kiva.
Crowdfunding accounts have multiplied in response to Hurricanes Harvey and Irma. Most of them are set up by family or friends of individuals seeking cash to meet immediate needs. The turn-around is fast and avoids the overhead costs that can come through giving to a non-profit.
As with giving to traditional non-profits, we have to consider the pros and cons of giving to a crowdfunding cause. Here are some things to think about before you give:
- Can you identify someone who knows the person you’re giving to or who is local and can provide insight into the legitimacy of the request? For example, I have a friend who is a nurse and has shared a colleague’s GoFundMe account. I trust her to know the person’s character and need.
- Does the amount requested seem reasonable? A new roof in Des Moines and a new roof in Los Angeles will not cost the same.
- Is the use of the money specifically described?
- How does the crowdfunding platform work? They are not all the same.
- Does the platform subtract a percentage from each donation as a fee?
- How accessible is the money to the intended recipient?
- What do they do to protect against fraudulent accounts (identity theft) or fraudulent withdrawals?
Be aware: Gifts to individuals on these platforms are not monitored to ensure their use. There is a high degree of trust, much like there is if you give someone cash.
Learn more about giving wisely through crowdfunding sites: