After getting kicked off of GoFundMe, the Canadian Truckers Convoy has moved to Christian crowdfunding site, GiveSendGo, to an extraordinary reception.
Since 2011 the amount of money raised through online crowdfunding efforts has skyrocketed. In 2011 the estimate was just about $1.5 billion, in 2021 estimates increased to $34 billion. Among the most well-known crowdfunding platforms is, of course, GoFundMe. Their website states that they “believe your inspiration should be shared with everyone. Because that is how change happens.” If, of course, it is the type of change that they like…
Last week, GoFundMe shut down the crowdfunding efforts of the Canadian Truckers’ Freedom Convoy. On February 4th, 2022 GoFundMe stated that they believe in peaceful protests but that they had evidence from Canadian law enforcement that what had been a peaceful protest, no longer was. Instead of giving money back to the donors, however, GoFundMe stated that it would “work with organizers to send all remaining funds to credible and established charities chosen by the Freedom Convoy 2022 organizers and verified by GoFundMe.” If donors did wish to receive a refund, they could submit a request until February 19th.
The next day, after some constructive feedback from Jordan Peterson and others, GoFundMe announced that they would simplify the process: “We will automatically refund all contributions directly—donors do not need to submit a request.” Nonetheless, this left the Freedom Convoy out some $9 million.
After this debacle, the Freedom Convoy found a different avenue through which to receive funds. GiveSendGo, a free Christian crowdfunding site, has taken on the Freedom Convoy 2022 project. The landing page for the Freedom Convoy reads, “To our Fellow Canadians, the time for political overreach is over. Our current government is implementing rules and mandates that are destroying the foundation of our businesses, industries and livelihoods.”
At the bottom of the page, they stipulate for what purposes they will use the funds raised: “Money raised will be dispersed to our Truckers to aid them with the cost of the journey. Funds will be spent to help cover the cost of fuel for our Truckers first and foremost, will be used to assist with food if needed and contribute to shelter if needed.” As of Wednesday, February 9th, the campaign has raised over $7 million of their $16 million goal. The Washington Examiner reported that the campaign raised $2.4 million in its first day alone.
It should be noted that this is not the first instance of GoFundMe’s bias. Ryan King at the Examiner had an excellent round up of five times that GoFundMe has shut down conservative fundraisers. These include the Freedom Convoy, Kyle Rittenhouse, conservative ASU students harassed on campus, a Texas nurses’ anti-vaccine mandate lawsuit, and an anti-mask campaign.
The beauty of crowdfunding is its decentralized and unregulated nature—moving philanthropy away from its too-common bureaucratization. Crowdfunding platforms promised a way for individuals and organizations to ask for help and band together for the good of their communities—without the regulation of petty bureaucrats.
But recently GoFundMe has given into the meddling of bureaucrats, working with the government to decide what charities are or are not “legitimate.” Even prior to that, GoFundMe decides which charities they will “verify.” This runs exactly counter to the motivating principle of crowdfunding.
Now, I understand that there are scammers and dangerous people out there—there’s no denying that. Nonetheless, we have perhaps missed the forest for the trees by creating bureaucratic crowdfunding (add that to the list of oxymorons). Certainly, we should avoid funding scams but also, we need to ensure that crowdfunding sites don’t become DAFs for small-dollar donors. And right now, GoFundMe looks an awful lot like Fidelity Charitable.