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20 Things You Didn't Know About GoFundMe

GoFundMe is one of the biggest crowdsharing platforms on the planet. It helps raise money for events including celebrations or help with funding bills from accidents or illnesses.

Since GoFundMe was started in 2010, it's run more than 2 million campaigns and raised more than $5 billion. GoFundMe's goal is to inspire people to "turn compassion into action".

Here are 20 things you didn't know about GoFundMe.

1. Founding

GoFundMe started out as "CreateAFund" in 2008 in San Diego, California. CreateAFund was developed by Brad Damphousse and Andrew Ballester. Damphousse is from Boston, Massachusetts and studied at Emerson College before moving to California and becoming an entrepreneur in the world of technology and start ups.

Andrew Ballester graduated from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. The pair previously created Paygr which allowed members to sell services to the public. CreateAFund allowed social media users to raise money for certain causes or celebrations. Damphousse and Ballester tweaked and upgraded features and developed GoFundMe in 2010.

2. Sale

In 2015 Brad Damphousse and Andrew Ballester sold GoFundMe to Accel Partners and Technology Crossover. The value was $600 million. In 2017 GoFundMe was acquired by Crowd Rise which continues to develop and run GoFundMe today.

Damphousse and Ballester stepped down from the day to day operations of GoFundMe but remained a part of the company. The new leaders of GoFundMe were Rob Solomon, the former Chief Operating Officer of Groupon.

The new President of GoFundMe was David Hahn, the former Vie President of LinkedIn. Under new leadership, GoFundMe would build its headquarters in Silicon Valley and begin to expand the company globally.

3. The Board

GoFundMe started with just 2 people. Today the company is run by an entire board. Each member is responsible for a certain aspect of the company but they also work in collaboration.

The Chairman and Chief Executive Officer is Rob Solomon. Hoang Vuong is the Chief Operating and Financial Officer. Rachel Roza is the Chief Marketing Officer. The Chief Technology Officer is Chi-Chao Chang. Daniel Gordon is GoFundMe's Vice President of Trust, Policy and Communications.

Original founders Brad Damphousse and Andrew Ballester sits on the Board of Directors and continues to have a stake in GoFundMe. In 2015 Daniel Pfeiffer was hired as GoFundMe's Communication and Policy Chief. Pheiffer previously served as an advisor to President Barak Obama.

4. Offices

GoFundMe is based in Redwood City, California. The company also has offices in San Diego, California and Dublin, Ireland. It has operations that run out of France, Germany, Spain and the United Kingdom. The company's main offices have an open floor plan. The intention is that employees will collaborate.

5. Statistics

Since its inception in 2010, GoFundMe has grown quickly to become the world's largest crowdsharing platform for raising money. It has hosted over 2 million campaigns and helped raise more than $5 billion. It has sponsored 50 million donors..

6. How It Works

GoFundMe allows users to create a website to raise money. On the website, users describe their cause and state the amount of money they hope to make from the campaign.

They can post photos and videos on the website. The website is then shared through social media including Facebook and Twitter. It can also be shared through email. Donations can be made through a debit or credit card. The progress is tracked, and donators can leave comments on the website.

7. GoFundMe Options

When you set up a GoFundMe page you have three options. If you are collecting money for a charity, you select the Charity Fundraising option. With this option a monthly donation to the charity will automatically be taken out.

You can also set up a Personal Page. With this option you set a definite deadline and donation goal. When the deadline is reached the funds collected are released. Finally, there is an All or Nothing option. If the goal is not met with this option, donations are returned to the donators.

8. Fees

GoFundMe does take a portion of the donations. The service itself is free to use for users and donators in the United States of America, the United Kingdom and Canada.

GoFundMe takes 5% per donation. In addition, they accept tips from donators. When a GoFundMe page is set up, a WePay Account is created for when the time comes to disperse the funds. Upon withdraw of the funds WePay charges 2.9%

9. What type of causes are allowed

In the beginning of GoFundMe, there were no real restrictions on causes that people can request donations for. As the company has developed, they've placed certain restrictions.

Typically GoFundMe is used to create awareness through social media and raise money for medical bills, funerals, trips and education costs. Tuition costs are one of the most popular causes on GoFundMe. One user raised $25,000 for a PhD program.

10. Restrictions

In its beginning GoFundMe ran into trouble for allowing certain causes to be used to get money. In 2014 GoFundMe cancelled a site set up by a woman seeking donations to pay for an abortion.

This was a controversial. Because abortion is legal and considered a medical procedure, the company had to put the site back up. Causes that GoFundMe does not allow include anything in violation of the law, purchasing weapons, gambling, drugs, sex workers, money management services, intimidation, anything perverse or offensive, and anything that promotes bigotry.

GoFundMe does not allow support of legal defense. This came after Sweet Cakes by Melissa tried to raise money when they were fined for refusing to bake a cake for a same sex marriage.

11. Scams

GoFundMe has seen its share of scams since it started. One of the biggest GoFundMe scams began as a heartwarming story. Kate McClure ran out of gas in Philadelphia while traveling during Thanksgiving weekend 2017. John Babbit Jr, a homeless veteran gave her the last of his money for gas.

McClure and her boyfriend Mark D'Amico set up a GoFundMe page to raise donations to help Babbit get back on his feet and stay off drugs. They raised $400,000 through GoFundMe.

The campaign had gone viral with people commenting that they had renewed hope in humanity. Unfortunately the story soon unraveled. Babbit was a former United States Marine and had worked as a paramedic.

Unfortunately he'd posted a story on Facebook in 2012 where he had given a woman the last of his money when she ran out of gas in front of a Walmart. Babbit began to complain that he had not received the donations.

It turns out McClure, D'Amico and Babbit had set the whole story up. McClure and Babbit had spent much of the funds on vacations, a car, clothes and gambling. They were all charged with fraud and deceiving donors.

12. Successful Campaigns

Through its course GoFundMe has helped with several successful campaigns. In June 2016 a GoFundMe page for the families of the victims of the Pulse Nightclub Shootings raised $7.8 million.

During the shootings at the nightclub in Orlando, Florida, 49 people were killed and 58 were wounded. Certainly the families of the victims deserved the donations.

In November 2016 GoFundMe helped raise money for veterans killed at Standing Rock, North Dakota. 2000 United States military veterans tried to protect members of the Sioux Tribe Reservation who were trying to protect their land from a proposed oil pipeline. $1.1 million was raised through GoFundMe.

13. Employees of GoFundMe

Employees of GoFundMe are treated well. In 2017 GoFundMe received awards for Best Workplace in Technology, Best small to medium company in the Bay Area, and Best Workplace that gives back.

GoFundMe started its Give Back Program in 2015. Employees of GoFundMe pick a campaign that inspired them and GoFundMe donates $1000 to that cause. GoFundMe offers employees 401K contributions up to 6%.

GoFundMe pays employees $600 a year for its wellness benefits program which can be used for gym memberships, gym equipment, dietary needs and spa treatments.

14. Before you donate, Personal Tragedy

Before you donate to a GoFundMe page for a personal tragedy, you should be cautious and be sure that the cause isn't a scam. To be safe, only donate to someone you know personally. If you do wish to donate to a random personal tragedy, check the link to the person's Facebook account.

You can check out the person. Look for things like friends' condolence comments to be sure the cause is legitimate. Check to see if the person has multiple GoFundMe pages for the particular tragedy. This could be legitimate as both sides of the family could have separate pages or the person has set up multiple accounts to avoid GoFundMe from taking a larger percentage of what is collected.

15. Before you donate, Business Ventures

You should investigate before you donate for a business venture. Check to see if the GoFundMe page was create in the business' name. Also check if there is a Facebook link in the business' name.

Message people who have "liked" the business Facebook page to investigate validity. Another thing to consider when donating to a business venture is are you considered a "donator" or an "investor".

You should be considered an "investor". The requester for donations should be offering you something in return for your donation into their business venture because their goal is to make a profit with their new business.

16. Time's Up Fund

One of the most successful GoFundMe campaign is the Time's Up Fund. This was set up to help those who experience sexual assault or harassment in the workplace. The cause has raised $21.51 million.

It is still going strong. The money will be administered by the National Women's Law Center. Other successful GoFundMe campaigns that have drawn millions of dollars in donations include a fund for the October 1, 2017 mass shooting victims in Las Vegas, Nevada and the mass shootings at Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida on February 14, 2018.

17. Funding a Border Wall during Trump's Presidency

One interesting GoFundMe campaign popped up in the news and it turned out to be successful. An Iraqi War veteran with an interest in conspiracy theories started a GoFundMe page to raise money to build the President Trump supported wall at the United States' border with Mexico to prevent illegal immigration. Hoping to collect money from Trump supporters, the GoFundMe page was successful. It raised $14 million. 

18. Be Careful of Government Assistance

Although it's easy to set up and use a GoFundMe page, it's important to understand the fine print rules. People often use GoFundMe to collect donations to help pay off medical costs.

However if you have government assistance like Medicaid, any GoFundMe donations received will be considered income. Donations collected will be investigated and could affect eligibility for a government assistance program. Not reporting GoFundMe donations as income could become an issue with income taxes.

19. Privacy

As with anything on the internet, you should be careful what information you put out even through a GoFundMe page. Don't post your home address or your phone number.

Be careful when posting photos and videos on your GoFundMe page. Something as simple as a visible license plate could lead to trouble if the wrong person notices it. Always use a secure password and preferably a duel identification password so you can only access the account with a verification code.

20. Make sure you spend the money on what's intended

It seems simple enough. You set up a GoFundMe page because you have a specific things that for which you need the money. Whether it's a personal struggle or tragedy, funds for education or a business venture, or funds for a celebration such as a birthday, graduation or wedding, make sure that every penny collected in donations goes directly to that cause.

Otherwise it could lead to legal ramifications because it would be considered fraud to spend the money on other items. Always keep your receipts and carefully document your expenditures.

Garrett Parker

Written by Garrett Parker

Garrett by trade is a personal finance freelance writer and journalist. With over 10 years experience he's covered businesses, CEOs, and investments. However he does like to take on other topics involving some of his personal interests like automobiles, future technologies, and anything else that could change the world.

Read more posts by Garrett Parker

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