Exploring the power of crowdfunding as Humboldt Broncos GoFundMe raises $15 million


WATCH: A Humboldt Broncos GoFundMe page that’s raised close to $15 million is shutting down Wednesday night. As Tess van Straaten tells us, it’s reflective of the new way Vancouver Islanders and Canadians are giving money and fundraising. 

From raising money for medical or funeral expenses to pets in need and even families facing homelessness, GoFundMe has become the go-to-place for fundraising and the horrific Humboldt Broncos tragedy has proven that ? raising more than $14.75 million in just 11 days.

“It really demonstrates the power of crowdfunding,” explains Simon Fraser University associate professor Jeremy Snyder, who has studied the impact on people in need.

“Where in the past with a lot of these local tragedies you might have had a couple of people putting around a can and raising a few hundred bucks or a few thousand dollars, it’s turned into this global crowd-funding phenomenon where millions of dollars has been raised so it shows the power of social networks and this new technology.”

The Broncos GoFundMe campaign, the largest ever in Canadian history, is ending Wednesday night so the money can be transferred to a new non-profit called the Humboldt Broncos Memorial Fund.

But there are hundreds of other campaigns on Vancouver Island ? and thousands across the country ? vying for support as more and more people turn to online fundraising. However, experts say results vary greatly.

“The evidence shows that 80 to 90 per cent of campaigns don’t actually reach their goals,” says Snyder. “What it comes down to a lot of times is how sympathetic is the case? Does it get a lot of media attention? Does it go beyond the local community? And a lot of what drives it is whether people feel really emotionally attached and moved to give.”

GoFundMe’s raised more than $5 billion since it was launched in 2010 and as the popularity of crowd-funding sites continues to grow, these platforms are shifting attention ? and in some cases donations ? away from traditional charities.

“I think there’s certainly competition for the philanthropic dollar but the good news is there is a proliferation of ways for people to give in response to tragedies like Humboldt and wildfires as well as supporting their regular giving habits,” says Jennifer Young of United Way Greater Victoria.

Victoria’s United Way, which raised $5 million last year, is counting on that as local and national charities try to compete with the explosion of online campaigns.

Tess van StraatenTess van Straaten

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