Con Profit- A Look Inside Crowdfunding Scams

This weeks broadcast of CBS This Morning took an inside look into a type of social media platform that we’re all familiar with, Crowdfunding Sites. Crowdfunding sites like GoFundMe and YouCaring are typically non-profit initiatives started by people like you and I. But as CBS discovered, there is a dark side to a social media platform we know so well.

Take a look.

While there are crowdfunding sites which are raising money for great causes, the act of giving money to a crowdfunding site is a short-term fix. Yes, in the best of cases, this money is spent on items that families and children need. However, this short-term fix could easily turn into a long-term solution.

If people were educated on issues affecting the people for whom these crowdfunding sites were built on, they would become inspired to find their own solutions and create change where they see fit. The overall goal is to help people in need, not to make a profit through a crowdfunding site.

If only as much effort was put into educating donors on issues affecting disease-ridden nations or the part the government plays in prolonging these issues as it was in collecting money. Practices like these would go a long way towards reassuring skeptical donors that their funds are being properly handled. And alleviate this doubt between crowdfunding sites and their public.

Organizations which value educating those on world issues are deemed to be more credible than those only looking for $ Photo: The Family International
Organizations which value educating those on world issues are more credible than those only looking for $ Photo: The Family International

So what are red flags to look out for as a donor?

  • Sites that make monetary donations the top priority
  • Sites that offer nothing of substance for your contribution i.e.. The actual names of children/families you are donating to, a photo or Skype session with the orphan you’re giving money to, blog posts explaining crisis, news bulletins on the non profit’s activities

As a philanthropist, I have a soft spot of children, and I’m always on the lookout for credible non profits to align my passion for giving and spread my knowledge of world issues affecting children.

One of the best experiences I had as a philanthropist was with Liberty & Justice’s Uniform Campaign for children in Liberia. One of the main goals of this clothing company’s fundraising initiative was to offer the public a service. Quality made t shirts purchased by customers helped to provide school uniforms for Liberian children overcoming the aftermath of the ebola crisis.

Liberty & Justice 2015 Uniform Campaign for children in Liberia Photo: KickStarter
Liberty & Justice 2015 Uniform Campaign for children in Liberia Photo: KickStarter

The t-shirts which were purchased by donors served as tangible evidence of how their funds helped children realize their dreams of education. One of the other components we made sure to include in our efforts was to educate those around the world on the various issues that we as a group effort felt could be remedied if enough light was shined on them.

Through our educational outreach and value on seeking long-term educational solutions, as a team we were able to raise total of $230,059 for Liberian children to attend school. Not to mention Former Lakers Player, Shaquille O’Neal and fashion designer Whitney Port became involved in the campaign as ambassadors.

In contrast, the overall practice of being focused solely on taking money from others through a website sets a dangerous precedent. As seen in CBS’s broadcast story.

It’s important that a non profit takes the initiative to get the public involved in the cause so that a change can take place. A two-way dialogue should be put into place to decide the best way to help a cause.

It’s a shame really because sites like these do a disservice to legitimate ones. In an age where acquiring donor support is an elusive attainment, this goal could be made more attainable for non profits who do value the enrichment of their donors if other crowdfunding sites learned from these mistakes.

Crowdfunding sites give a large audible platform for voices that would otherwise be silent. This platform should be used responsibly to share the message of those in need to those capable of helping.

I wish that these crowdfunding initiatives going forward decide to place more value on transparency and reassuring their donors. It is my hope that this piece sheds some light on this issue because going forward we really can do some special things in the world for those who need it most.

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