As we all know, GoFundMe advises potential donors to “only contribute payments to GoFundMe users they personally know and trust.” That’s great and all, but doesn’t that defeat the whole purpose of online crowdfunding? If I need $500 to get my cat gender reassignment surgery or whatever SRS is called these days, then surely I would just hit up my friends and family directly since they know and trust me, right? Right.
Thankfully I have yet to deal with a transgender cat but I do think a lot about donor rights as far as GoFundMe policies are concerned. Therefore, we humbly present to you, the potential donor, a donor Bill of Rights, ratified July 1, 2016 here on my laptop in Richmond, Virginia.
Donors have the right to know how exactly their donation will be used
As a donor, you should have a good idea what you’re funding and how your funds will be used. In a perfect world, campaign owners have solid plans or needs and you therefore don’t worry too much about where your money is going. But you, like me, live in the real world where people aren’t always entirely honest or even clear in their intention. Donors have the right to know that their money is going to exactly what they intend it to go to — be that cat surgery or electric bills or whatever.
Donors have the right to ask questions
As a potential donor, you have every right to question a campaign owner. If someone says they need $500 for their cat’s gender affirmation surgery, then you have every right to ask which vet they are using (as far as I know, no vet in the world is leading the way on transgender cat surgery but I’m just using that as a ridiculous example here because why not). You have the right to ask a campaign owner how they are using funds, where they are receiving services, what their actual bills look like. Do not guilt yourself into thinking otherwise for the sake of blind generosity.
Donors have the right to know the background of the individual to whom they are donating
This one is tough. We’ve had a few cases on the ole Facebook page recently involving people with questionable backgrounds turning to GoFundMe to spin their narrative of woe is me; one particularly troubling case involved a man who tried to murder a woman a few years back and that woman showed up on our Facebook post to share her story. We won’t rehash that story here because it’s clear that woman is still hurting and we’re sorry that she even saw our criticism of the guy she used to date shilling on GoFundMe but it just showed how some campaign owners manage to paint a picture entirely different from the actual picture of their lives.
Donors have the right to see the whole picture
So I brought this up on the GoFraudMe Facebook page recently as we were talking about needs and wants. To anyone who doesn’t know me, I’m a starving writer (yes you CAN buy me a beer, thanks for asking!) with an awesome downtown apartment and an overpriced couch and a big ole TV. Living the life, right! But really, I live day to day. Sure, I can sell my TV and my iPad and my overpriced couch if I find myself in a pinch. Cool. I’m not putting up a GoFundMe page but if I did, then I think any potential donors have the right to know that I have a big screen TV and an expensive couch and other assets I could sell. Potential donors have the right to see that big picture and know how GoFundMe campaign owners got to where they are. See above re: the guy who tried to kill someone and turned around to put up a campaign acting like it was the rest of the world’s fault that his life was shit.
Above all else, this is the big one so please hear me now: you as a potential donor are under no obligation to give. In my years of reporting on GoFundMe fraud, I have come across so many awesome, generous, amazing people who want so badly to give everything they have to causes meaningful to them. A lot of those people have very little to give, yet they still give so freely of what little they have because they just want to help. And that’s why this page exists, so people like that can feel safe giving to causes that mean something to them. I can’t begin to tell you how many awesome people have given and given only to get burned.
Ask questions. Ask for proof. Ask more questions. This is your right as a potential donor. Please don’t forget that.`