GoFundMe allows users to create their own website with which they raise money. During this process, members can describe their fundraising cause and the amount they hope to raise, and upload photos or video. Once the website is created, GoFundMe allows users to share their, project with people through integrated social network links (Facebook, Twitter, etc.) and email. People can then donate to a user's cause through the website using a debit card or credit card and track the progress of their funding. Those who donate can also leave comments on the website in support of the project. If the user receives no donations, then no charge is made. Payment processors collect 2.9% and $.30 from each GoFundMe transaction.
GoFundMe is unique to crowdfunding in that they are not an incentive-based crowdfunding website. Although it does allow projects that are meant to fund other projects for musicians, inventors, etc., the business model is set up to allow for donations to personal causes and life events such as medical bills. GoFundMe also has a special section dedicated solely to users who are trying to raise money to cover their tuition costs. One of the most notable tuition projects involved helping a user raise $25,000 to pay out-of-state tuition to a Ph.D. program.
GoFundMe targets social media platforms to create awareness for campaigns and encourages individual users to promote their fundraiser on social media throughout a campaign. According to a 2018 report by GoFundMe based on past campaign data, a donor sharing a campaign on social media results in $15 of donations on average, while any share of a campaign on social media, regardless of whether the user donated to the campaign, results in $13 of donations on average. GoFundMe hired Daniel Pfeiffer in 2015 as the communications and policy chief. Pfeiffer previously served as an advisor to President Barack Obama and left the company in 2017.
In 2015, GoFundMe announced that the site would no longer support legal defense funds on its platform. The news came after the site suspended funding for the defense of Sweet Cakes by Melissa, a bakery that was fined for refusing to bake a cake for a same-sex wedding As of November 2017, GoFundMe's terms and conditions allow for campaigns for certain kinds of legal defense.
In June 2019 GoFundMe terminated a $3 million fundraising for an Australian rugby player, Israel Folau, to finance a court case to appeal his multi-million dollar dismissal. He had quoted on social media, 1 Corinthians 6:9-10, which was said to be homophobic. An alternative fundraising site was set up by a Christian organization with the public donating $2 million in 24 hours.
In November 2017, GoFundMe announced that it will no longer charge a 5% fee per donation for US, Canada, and UK individual campaigns, and instead rely upon tips left by donors to support the website. The processing fee for online credit card payments will still apply to donations.
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