How can I open a GoFundMe
Doing good together - when social commitment and personal initiative come together
The world's largest donation platform GoFundMe now also makes it possible in Germany to collect money for the heart project next door or to support others in their endeavors. Jeannette Gusko is part of the team, she helps users to make their social fundraising campaigns more successful and tells us about the new way of donating.
Tell us about GoFundMe - how did the idea come about and what is the mission behind it?
GoFundMe was launched in the USA in 2010 with the aim of closing a large gap in the area of donation and social engagement: supporting individual and personal concerns and goals. The idea of the founders was that all those who have an idea worth supporting or need financial help should have the opportunity to find donors and supporters. At the same time, people who want to help others should have a free choice of whom and what issues they want to support. There are so many great ideas and so many individual stories that deserve and receive support once people find out about them. GoFundMe was founded to bring these projects, community issues and ideas together with those who want to help. Civil society works when social commitment and personal initiative come together. A diverse and fair distribution of money is essential for civil society and GoFundMe claims to be its engine.
What makes GoFundMe different from other online crowdfunding platforms?
GoFundMe is committed to enabling social and personal crowdfunding. While many crowdfunding platforms cover a wide range of topics that can be financed online - from films and music projects to electronic products, from inventions to environmental projects - and, above all, also promote commercial projects, we have clearly specialized in social issues. That's why GoFundMe is primarily an online donation platform. We focus on providing financial support for all kinds of personal concerns: in areas such as medicine, emergencies, entrepreneurship, sports, education, women's rights, animals and many more. Other platforms finance projects, we enable changes, large and small.
What do online fundraising platforms contribute to the existing donation system and social commitment?
In the past, social fundraising and social engagement were a one-way street: on the one hand there were institutional fundraisers such as foundations, aid organizations or associations, on the other hand the donors. They were allowed to choose between the different fundraising drives and that was it. Platforms like GoFundMe are fundamentally changing that. They open up a 360 degree commitment and donation system. Individuals can now start donation campaigns themselves - for themselves, friends or family or a cause that is important to them. At the same time, donors have a full choice. You can continue to support aid organizations, but also special projects from all over the world, people you know, or private individuals you don't even know. Platforms like GoFundMe democratize social engagement and give individuals back control. With GoFundMe, everyone involved can initiate changes - whether in the immediate vicinity or in the farthest corner of the world.
Will platforms like yours change the way people donate, and if so, how?
Social digital fundraising is changing the rules of the game for initiators and supporters: On the one hand, the spectrum of what can be supported is expanding: from emergency aid to fulfilling personal wishes and goals in life, from sports or education funding to neighborhood projects. Fundraising campaigns are no longer reserved for emergency aid, but are turning into instruments of real empowerment. Social crowdfunding platforms such as GoFundMe are turning donations on their head and changing it permanently. They facilitate access to projects and concerns all over the world, bring potential donors closer and thus increase credibility. This reduces the inhibition threshold to get involved. They also allow targeted and transparent support instead of investing anonymously in aid campaigns. The replacement of the watering can principle makes the effect of your own donation more visible and thus encourages more individual commitment. All this increases the trust in aid projects of all kinds. This not only changes the way we give and expands the possibilities to help, but also increases the willingness to donate. As a result, we will see a sustained increase in the volume of donations.
GoFundMe is very well known and loved in the US. Were there difficulties or differences in gaining a foothold on the German market or was the situation the same?
Germany is a perfect place for GoFundMe. On the one hand economically, after all we are one of the largest economies in the world. Above all, however, it is a country in which social commitment and standing up for fellow human beings play an important role. GoFundMe is an easy, quick, and effective way to help people and find support to make their dreams come true. We are convinced that there is a great need for this in Germany in particular. Ultimately, the idea of GoFundMe is universal: people support other people with their ideas, their concerns or in emergency situations. The desire to help others is not limited to national borders, nor is the need for social engagement. That is why GoFundMe sees itself as a global platform: We are already seeing donors from almost every country in the world.
What is essential for the success of a GoFundMe campaign?
GoFundMe campaigns thrive on the stories they tell. You have to address potential donors in such a way that they want to participate. A catchy title is just as important as meaningful images, and a video that fills the story with life is even better. As is well known, pictures say more than a thousand words. Transparency is also important: campaign starters should explain exactly what they want to spend the money on. This creates credibility and this in turn increases willingness to donate. And then of course people have to know about it. For initiators this means: Share your campaign on social media, use all communication channels you have, encourage friends and relatives to do the same. As a rule, the more a campaign is shared, the more and different ways you try, the more successful it will be. Ultimately, the most important thing is to be able to convey to other people or communities in a credible and authentic manner why they should support a GoFundMe.
Is there a successful project from Germany that you are particularly proud of?
The first thing that comes to mind is the “Save Elias” campaign. It was about a 28-year-old student from Frankfurt am Main who had a serious accident while on vacation in Thailand. To save his life, pay the hospital bills and bring him back to Germany, his brother raised funds on GoFundMe. The success was overwhelming: more than 150,000 euros were raised, hip-hop greats such as Kool Savas and Haftbefehl supported the campaign, and especially from Frankfurt, but also far beyond, there was active support. With the money, Elias was flown back to Germany, where he was gradually able to recover from the serious injuries. The campaign is a perfect example of what can happen when many people come together and work together for a cause. A life could be preserved and improved here.
What do you like best about your job?
At GoFundMe, we have a very simple claim: We want to help change the world. Our campaign starters have one thing in common: They want to improve things - be good neighbors, help sick people, support social projects, increase educational opportunities and much more. Anyone who starts a campaign on GoFundMe wants to do their part to create a better community and the commons. Being able to contribute is incredibly fulfilling and incredibly motivating. Many of the campaign starters are fascinating, courageous or even vulnerable people who inspire me every day. And then to see a story turn out for good thanks to the contribution of the many is a wonderful feeling that makes me enjoy going to work every morning.
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