For-profit crowdfunding platform GoFundMe has helped raised a total of $30 billion in donations since its founding in 2010, the company announced today (Feb. 6).
These funds came from more than 150 million donors representing more than one-third of all U.S. adults, according to GoFundMe CEO Tim Cadogan. “Most often, these are friends, relatives, neighbors and community members helping each other in response to specific needs,” he said in a statement.
Due to global crises, company acquisitions and a growing awareness of crowdfunding, GoFundMe has in recent years seen a marked increase in donations. Around half of the $30 billion solicited over fourteen years was raised after 2021, when the company reported total donations of just $15 billion.
While many of GoFundMe’s crowdfunding campaigns focus on raising money for everyday events like weddings or funerals, the company has seen a rise in campaigns responding to societal events, said Cadogan in a 2022 interview with The New York Times. “All that is still happening, and overlaid on that are all these massive sort of impacts that have been affecting our societies, from Covid and social justice and some of these climate effects that you’re seeing, whether they be floods or hurricanes or fires and so on,” he said. “The situations that are coming up now seem like they are more frequent.”
Shortly after Cadogan joined GoFundMe in 2020, the company saw $625 million raised for Covid-19 related causes between March and August of that year. The surge prompted Cadogan to write an op-ed for USA Today in which he called for federal Covid-19 relief, noting that GoFundMe “was never meant to be a source of support for basic needs.”
The company also set a record for the highest number of donations received by an individual campaign in 2020, when nearly $15 million was raised for the Official George Floyd Memorial Fund. It has also seen a steady increase in donations for disaster relief, with $106 million raised for disaster recovery in 2023 compared to $3 million in 2013.
The crowdfunding platform has also seemingly become part of the economics of entire industries. In 2020, GoFundMe hosted around 200,000 medical cause-related campaigns from U.S. solicitors, a marked increase from 8,000 in 2011, according to a study from the Journal of Philanthropy and Marketing that noted around one-third of all funds raised on the platform are for medical causes. Despite the prevalence of medical crowdfunding, both Cadogan and former GoFundMe CEO Rob Solomon have repeatedly stated that governments, not crowdfunding campaigns, should be the ones to provide a social safety net.
Crowdfunding’s role in philanthropy
The company has also expanded to tap into the nonprofit market. A portion of the $30 billion in donations was raised by Classy, a nonprofit fundraising company that GoFundMe acquired in May 2022. While GoFundMe didn’t detail how much of its total donations came from the subsidiary, Classy accounted for $1.1 billion of the $5 billion in gifts collected by GoFundMe in 2021.
The success of crowdfunding platforms is only expected to grow in the future. Nearly 90 percent of crowdfunding donors plan to increase or maintain their charitable crowdfunding over the next three years, according to a 2021 report from the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy. The study also found that crowdfunding donors tend to be younger than traditional donors and are on average less religious and more likely to be single.
Cadogan, however, has maintained that GoFundMe doesn’t pose a threat to nonprofits. “It’s very much overlain on what the charities are already doing because it’s that direct-to-individual impact,” he told The Irish Times in October. “In the U.S. we have $400 billion of giving in a year, right, so you know we’re a few percent of that but not a big piece, so it sits very nicely alongside the charities.”