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The Crowdfunding Response to Superstorm Sandy

Superstorm Sandy dealt a blow to the East Coast that has not been seen since the likes of Hurricane Katrina. As communities from Maine to North Carolina begin the long process of rebuilding, crowdfunding is coming to the fore as a way to help those who lost so much.

Here is a rough count of Sandy-related crowdfunding projects on some of the big crowdfunding platforms:

CrowdRise: over 330 projects
Indiegogo: over 135 projects
GoFundMe: over 130 approved projects
Fundly: 40 projects
Giveforward: over 33 projects
Razoo: over 10 projects

What’s Getting Funded?

VentureBeat.com reported yesterday that donations for Sandy-related projects on Indiegogo have cleared $200,000. As of this morning, there were 17 full pages of projects on Indiegogo designed to help people recover from Sandy, and there were over 40 pages of Sandy projects listed on CrowdRise. Many projects are posted by families who either lost their homes or had them badly damaged. An equal portion of the projects are from people across the US starting projects to help specific neighborhoods and areas, most of which are in Staten Island, Queens and New Jersey, where the storm did downright Biblical damage.

There are also dozens of projects to help pets, just on Indiegogo, and just as many or more projects posted by marathon runners who are dedicating their upcoming marathons to Sandy victims and trying to raise money that way. As you may remember, the New York City Marathon was cancelled this year over concerns that the efforts required to host the marathon would take away from the resources needed to help Sandy victims, especially those on Staten Island. CrowdRise, in particular, has at least 100 runners posting crowdfunding projects to support Sandy recovery efforts.

Waiving Fees and Launching Websites

Indiegogo has taken a further step of waiving all fees, and has partnered with the Red Cross to act as a platform to fund Red Cross efforts directly. They have even worked out a deal with PayPal to waive fees for all Sandy-related funding. HelpersUnite has also waived all fees for projects supporting the Sandy recovery. They’ve gone another step further to create the website SandyStatus.org which is serving as a repository for all information related to the storm and the recovery efforts.

For sheer funding raised, GoFundMe appears to be in the lead so far, reporting an impressive $316,290 raised for Sandy recovery projects as of November 5th. Brad Damphousse, speaking for GoFundMe, said he expected that to clear $1 million by the end of this week.

Is There Fraud Ahead?

The days ahead will be an interesting test for crowdfunding. With all the different projects and funding recipients, it will be extraordinary if there are no reports of fraud.

Despite the accusations of being a potential thicket of fraud, crowdfunding has yet to have even one example of fraud that was not been snuffed out almost as soon as it started. It seems the lightning speed of social media, which engendered crowdfunding, is also extremely adept at preventing scams. The next few weeks should be a good test as the crowdfunding community responds to its first massive disaster. We expect good news.

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