A note to givers: The idea of personal fundraising (“Crowdfunding”) is one that has taken off in the last few years. It is an ingenious and noble idea by which people who are in need can easily connect with the people who might help them. It has taken off to an extent that not only do individuals use them for a huge number of reasons, but many churches and other small non-profits who normally do not have the capability of credit-card processing use such sites to make it possible to reach more people and to accept credit card donations.
That being said, because just about anybody can start a site with whatever story they think up, it is very simple for someone to defraud others by crowdfunding. Even with this site, although I will always try to post legitimate campaigns, this cannot be guaranteed.
In order to minimize the chance that you are donating to a fraudulent cause, here are a couple of things to look for:
1) if donating to an institution, they should be able to include their 501(c)3 information in their profile. Most crowdfunding sites can account for this, and this will usually cause the fees to their site to be lower. Furthermore, many organizations (such as those which organize mission trips) which expect their participants to fund their own way through a program, have mechanisms whereby donors can donate toward specific people or causes on their websites, and those donations are also tax-exempt, and one can donate to them with a high confidence that the causes are legitimate.
2) If donating to a person not supported by an institution, one must be more careful. First of all, if possible (and it isn’t always) if there is another way to send a donation, say, via check, personally, I prefer this. With a check, your recipient is receiving the entire amount of your donation (no credit card or platform fees incurred) and you can also be reasonably assured that the money is going directly to the person, whereas most of the crowdfunding platforms encourage the idea that someone sets up the campaign on the behalf of another.
3) Furthermore, one can generally have more confidence in a campaign the closer one is to it. If it is a campaign for someone in your church, you can be fairly confident in its legitimacy. If it is a campaign for someone a friend knows personally or someone in another local church and the campaign was mentioned by a clergy member, you can be reasonably certain that the campaign is legitimate. However, the further one gets from actually knowing the intended recipient, the harder it is to ascertain its legitimacy, except in the cases of individuals being backed by institutions OR fundraisers which have been named by larger outlets, such as independent media sources and the like.
A note for those wishing to set up a crowdfunding campaign: There are many, many crowdfunding platforms out there these days, and many have slightly different audiences, and all have their own set of rules. Some are more tailored to Christian audiences as well. However, unless there are special circumstances, expect that a percentage of your funds raised will go toward the platform of hosting your fundraising campaign. This is unavoidable because these platforms incur costs for running. Furthermore, credit card companies also take their share. However, personal fundraisers over the internet can be a powerful tool. Keep in mind, though, that just because someone posts a fundraiser doesn’t mean that people will give; the success of the campaign often depends upon how widespread word of the campaign can travel, how great the need is, and how well you can demonstrate that you’re not just making the whole thing up.
The following are a few sites that can be used for personal fundraising. I have not personally used any of these, and so I cannot endorse any.
Continue To Give https://www.continuetogive.com/.
“A faith-based giving platform, designed for churches, missionaries, non-profits, individuals, and adoptive parents.”
Focusing on “compassionate crowdfunding” for “humanitarian causes”.
Fundraising for charitable and personal causes.
“Crowdfunding for Everyone”
Personal fundraising site.
“Fundraise for Anything”
419 Fund https://419fund.com
A specialized crowdfunding site for Christian causes – causes must first be approved by the 419 Fund staff.
Often used to help crowdfund new product projects, they also allow for personal fundraisers