A lot of people have the best intentions in mind when they set up GoFundMe websites.
In the Kansas City area, the Black Health Care Coalition started one over the weekend to help the National Baptist Convention raise the $65,000 that it suddenly lost after an atheist group in a lawsuit challenged the use of municipal taxpayer money to help pay some convention expenses. The city money was sought to pay to transport conventioneers from area hotels to Bartle Hall for the Sept. 5-9 gathering.
About 20,000 delegates and family members were expected to attend. They are to fill 8,200 hotel rooms — many of them not downtown — and pump an estimated $7.9 million into the local economy, according to VisitKC, the convention and tourism agency.
The Black Health Care Coalition’s GoFundMe page is at gofundme.com/faithlives2016. It’s a great way to try to quickly fill a funding gap.
A crowdfunding campaign that followed the June 12 mass shooting in the gay Orlando, Fla., nightclub that left 49 persons dead and 53 wounded raised more than $3.1 million in two days. It was the most money ever generated on the website.
Five days after the tragedy at the Pulse nightclub, $5.1 million was raised from more than 71,800 people who contributed to the fund set up by the civil rights group Equality Florida. It has since raised more than $7 million.
The success attracted more crowdfunding appeals and possibly trouble, yet generating $1.3 million. The Associated Press reports that 430 fundraisers have been posted on the GoFundMe website after the Orlando shooting.
They include travelers asking for cash, someone practicing ancient healing, a personal safety instructor, selling quick loaders for assault rifles and convicted identity impostors. The AP examined 30 campaigns in the GoFundMe list for the Orlando shootings.
They had raised more than $265,000 within a month of the tragedy. Some said the donations would go to cover funeral and medical expenses. But most of the campaigns lacked key details such as what the donations would cover and who was seeking the funding.
Several businesses asked for contributions. Florida charities law generally seeks no filings by crowdfunding campaigns meant for victims or their families or in support of other well-known charities.
Donations to crowdfunding websites generally are not tax-deductible unless the organizer behind the appeal is a tax-exempt charity. The Florida example shows that some people are quick to take advantage of folks wanting to sincerely help others who have gone through something horrific.
Such GoFundMe appeals are about as trustworthy as a stranger at a highway exit ramp holding a cardboard sign, claiming to be homeless seeking money for food and housing. Passers-by can never know whether the claim is legitimate or a scam.
People first have to ask where a homeless person with no money got a felt-tip black marker to make the sign in the first place.
Robinson said in a statement: “The convention has a social justice and social service agenda that we cannot ignore. They are working on a criminal justice agenda, disaster relief, housing and health. We feel compelled to support these efforts.”
People who contribute will see the results of their efforts, starting next week in downtown Kansas City, when Baptist convention-goers fill the hotels, restaurants and bars, adding to the local economy.