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Laguna Beach

Online giving after tragedies – donors beware

By Doug Bennett, Executive Director

Orange Coast College Foundation

With the recent Kobe Bryant helicopter crash, several GoFundMe campaigns and other online efforts to support the families of the victims have been started. Our immediate instinct is to want to help and intuitively we know that when grief is overwhelming, sometimes immediate financial assistance can be helpful.

Recently, there have been many reports of tricksters and impostors initiating campaigns. How can a donor know if a campaign is legitimate? My suggestions are:

–Carefully read the narrative posted on the appeal. If it sounds insincere and doesn’t offer enough information to make you comfortable, be cautious.

–GoFundMe campaigns have a contact email; don’t hesitate to email them and ask for verification of their status.

–If there is a phone number attached to the plea, call them if you are not sure.

–GoFundMe and other portals will sometimes shut down the creation of new funds immediately after mass shootings and other incidents to verify the validity of the funds being established.

–If you have a contact within the family or their support network and you are concerned about the validity of the campaign, try and call or email the organizers.

GoFundMe will also label if there is an option to email the organizer. Questions to ask include: How much/what percentage of the funds are going directly to the cause? Depending on how the giving portal is managed, it is anywhere from 0-20 percent that can be taken off the gift total for administrative fees. Ask the organizer if they are taking a cut of the donations above the processing fee. Try and find out what the fees are. If they don’t respond, don’t give. If you have the family’s address, you can also consider mailing them a check directly by snail mail.


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