Sunday 4 December 2016

'There’s no justifying their fees' - Fundraising site GoFundMe makes over €200k in profit from Irish campaigns

Published 26/08/2016 | 18:06

Hugh's House founder Ade Stack said the GoFundMe fees are too high, but it's a reliable system. Photo:Hugh's House
Hugh's House founder Ade Stack said the GoFundMe fees are too high, but it's a reliable system. Photo:Hugh's House

The popular fundraising site GoFundMe is making a profit of over €200,000 from Irish fundraising campaigns, with over €3.4 million raised in Ireland through the site.

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The platform for charitable donations takes a 6.4pc cut of all donations, making €217,600 from Irish fundraising campaigns alone.

A spokesperson for GoFundMe said that Irish campaigns are “growing quickly” with many successful campaigns raising hundreds of thousands of euro.

The largest Irish GoFundMe page was for 'Batman' Ben Farrell (5), who raised almost €200,000 for cancer treatment in the US. 'Batman' Ben sadly passed away last week as his treatment was due to begin.

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A campaign for Berkeley survivor Clodagh Cogley raised over €120,000 through the site in the aftermath of the tragic balcony collapse in the US in June 2015.

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Other campaigns such as ‘A miracle for Doireann’, a page set up to raise vital funds for Doireann (5) who is battling a brain tumour, has raised almost €50,000 to date.

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Ireland Refugee Solidarity group have raised almost their entire €100,000 goal through the site.

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While Hugh's House Family Accommodation is one of Ireland’s largest GoFundMe pages with over €12,000 in fundraising raised through the site.

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The Hugh's House Family Accommodation charity is in the process of setting up a second home in Dublin for families with sick children in Temple Street Hospital.

Ade Stack from Dublin set up the charity after her baby son Hugh passed away in 2013 and she noticed the difficulty facing parents of sick children looking for accommodation in Dublin.

Ade said she used GoFundMe because she was "put off" professional charities after recent scandals with salaries and pay.

“Hugh died just as the scandal broke at the Central Remedial Clinic (CRC) in 2013. We didn’t want anything to do with employees and wages so we started the fundraising with the hope that people would do good for the sake of it, not because they were being paid to do so.”

Ade said that Hugh’s House does have a board of directors and accountants but they are all volunteers who receive no pay.

“We don’t accept cash payments so we used GoFundMe. It’s very expensive with the percentage they take but it’s accountable and quick. They might get €2 of a €20 donation but people can donate on their couch, they don’t have to queue in banks.

“There’s no justifying their fees but we decided as an organisation to stay away from accepting cash payments.”

Ade said that the average donation the charity receives on the GoFundMe page is between €20 to €50 and that the site allows people to donate quickly to something they believe in and “they’ll know it’s going to the right place”.

“The fees are too high, it would be great to get them down but without the platform people might not donate. It makes fundraising more accessible to the ordinary person.”

When a donation is made through GoFundMe the money goes to the company who deduct the 6.4pc and then lodge it into the bank account of the charity.

“The process is simple. You can see each donation go into your account in a matter of days.”

Ade said the money raised for Hugh’s House goes towards the “most basic human needs”.

“We use the money to provide electricity, gas and even things like toilet paper for the families who stay with us. We’re not spending any money on wages. We shouldn’t always have to pay someone for doing good.

“With GoFundMe people know we’re staying away from the possibility of a charity scandal and people can trust where the money goes.”

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