Whenever there’s a tragedy, be it a medical emergency or a disaster like Hurricane Harvey, people turn to fundraising on crowdsourcing platforms. While good is undoubtedly being done, these platforms also thrive in times of crisis — with GoFundMe raking in a fortune this week.
Fast Company notes that Hurricane Harvey fundraisers are, for obvious reasons, heavily featured on the platform. In fact, there’s even a small banner at the top of the main site directing visitors to donate to Harvey relief. But it doesn’t seem that GoFundMe is waiving any fees, and as a result is making a tidy profit off an ugly situation:
It seems the company is still taking its 7.9% cut (5% goes to GoFundMe and 2.9% goes to payment processing)–as well as its $0.30-per-donation fee…. Not counting the $0.30-per-donation fee, the company has already made over $355,000 from Harvey’s destruction.
Taking a cut is, of course, the whole deal. GoFundMe isn’t a charity, it’s a private business. In fact, the original founders made a fortune when the site was sold to Accel Partners and Technology Crossover Ventures in 2015. Still, as more and more disasters, from the personal to the national, unfold, it has to be asked if it’s ethical to help yourself to a piece of what’s intended as a charitable contribution. If so, one hopes that those eager to donate might go right to the charities they hope to benefit, rather than paying a middleman.