Crowdfunding is always complicated. According to research, less than one third of campaigns make their goal. Yet there are those campaigns, especially those inspired by a terrible tragedy, where the donor public is moved to give with extraordinary generosity.
This inspiring generosity can lead to unexpected issues. A common scenario seems to be that a well-meaning member of the public sets up a campaign and doesn't put an upward limit on the goal.
The public, so horrified by the tragedy that led to this situation gives and gives. An issue can arise when the campaign goes far over goal and the donors may all have very different ideas about how the money should be spent. An example of this included the Elijah Marsh campaign in 2015 which raised nearly $175,000 for funeral expenses. Media reports at the time included a wide range of opinions. It hardly seems right that a grieving family should have to balance this additional hardship of scrutiny.
Fortunately, Saskatchewan chose a better path. In the case of the crowdfunding campaign in the aftermath of the Humboldt Broncos bus crash, a committee was appointed to develop a framework for dividing the $15.2M raised. The committee included retired Saskatchewan justice Dennis Ball; Mark Chipman, chair of the NHL’s Winnipeg Jets; Olympic gold medallist Hayley Wickenheiser; Dr. Peter Spafford, lead staff for head and neck surgery at the University of Saskatchewan College of Medicine; and Kevin Cameron, executive director of the Canadian Centre for Threat Assessment and Trauma Response.
With so many victims with so many different situations, it was a wise move to provide a thoughtful, neutral way to distribute the proceeds of this campaign.
Too often, government regulation of the charitable sector is a negative. The situation in Saskatchewan proves that good rules can make things better, not worse, particularly for families navigating loss.
Thanks to Entrepreneur Magazine for statistics on crowdfunding.
Thanks to Global News for their coverage in this sad situation with the Humboldt Broncos
Ann Rosenfield, MBA, CFRE is the editor of Hilborn Charity eNews. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org