As we’ve all learned, any time there is a significant event that makes the news, the GoFundMe pages start popping up left and right. The Pulse shooting in Orlando this weekend is no exception. We’d like to believe the majority of these pages will be started with good intent and reach the intended beneficiaries, however we urge donors to exercise caution in donating to non-verified campaigns and/or those with vague intentions for monies raised.
We’ll get the big one out of the way first. A fundraising page started by Equality Florida — which consists of Equality Florida Institute, Inc., a 501(c)(3) educational charity and Equality Florida Action, Inc., a 501(c)(4) advocacy organization — has raised a mind-blowing $1,319,493.
In a statement on the GoFundMe page, Equality Florida says:
“Every penny raised will be distributed directly to the victims and their families. We are working with a team of attorneys and experts, including the National Center for Victims of Crime, which deployed funds in both Chattanooga and Aurora, to ensure funds are distributed correctly.”
Concerned commenters on the group’s Facebook page have some serious — and reasonable — questions about how exactly the money will be used, while others urge people to donate regardless. This is again where we remind you that you as a potential donor are allowed to ask questions. You are allowed to request transparency and accountability, especially when it comes to a campaign this large.
Another fundraiser headed up by the GLBT Community Center of Central Florida — whose declared mission is to “promote and empower the GLBT Community and its allies through information, education, advocacy and support” — has raised $183,956. Additionally, the Center has made grief counselors available to anyone who might be affected by this incident.
As more victim names are released, expect to see more GoFundMe pages for individual victims of the Pulse shooting and their surviving families. We’re going to say it one more time: we urge you to exercise caution as tragedies such as this one are a breeding ground for GoFundMe scams. Fraudsters are counting on the goodness of people and their desire to help; as such, be smart.
We’d like to make it clear that we don’t have any reason to believe the above GoFundMe pages to be malicious in any way. Nor are we saying you should automatically assume pages started for any individuals are not genuine.
It’s great that not only the community affected but the entire world can come together and support those impacted by this event, but unfortunate that victims will no doubt be victimized again via fake pages made in their name. Donate carefully.