‘‘Of course we’re well aware that people can try to take advantage of a natural disaster like this, so we really stepped up our game, trying to be that extra layer of protection between those collecting money and donors,’’ he said.
Donors make online payments through WePay in the United States or through PayPal internationally. The funds are delivered directly into a payment account for those seeking help. Then they link their bank accounts to the payment sites to withdraw the funds. The funds can arrive within three to five days, or checks can be cut within a week. Damphousse said the payment sites are skilled at detecting risky transactions.
GoFundMe charges a 5 percent fee from each transaction for the service.
Successful campaigns typically start with friends and family, spread through acquaintances and draw only sparingly from complete strangers, he said.
‘‘The friends and family are the ones who are going to support you no matter what,’’ he said. ‘‘If you've got friends or family who are across the country and are out of power, of course it’s easier for you to support them online with a credit or debit card, rather than mailing a check or sending a card.’’
Initial donations give a campaign credibility, or ‘‘social proof,’’ he said. Then friends and family can ask their friends for support as well through Facebook, Twitter or e-mail.
Some who lack power or Internet access have had friends set up their campaigns.
For Phyllis Puglia of Staten Island, N.Y., who lost her home and belongings, crowd funding has meant about $52,000 in support after her cousin, Josetta Maurer launched a campaign. Maurer created a page to tell Puglia’s story online. It was later featured on NBC’s ‘‘Rock Center.’’ Her initial fundraising goal was just $15,000.
The Good Fork restaurant in New York City’s Red Hook neighborhood has raised more than $53,000 through GoFundMe after telling how water filled the restaurant’s basement and continued up to the dining room.
Donors often leave comments of support on the fundraising sites.
‘‘We’re seeing individuals taking care of one another before some of these bigger organizations can get involved,’’ Damphousse said. ‘‘The process of giving is just so much more intimate and impactful sometimes than just throwing money into a larger organization and being unaware of where that money might be used.’’
Helpers Unite: http://www.helpersunite.com/
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