CLARENCE residents have donated more than $57,200 to 28 local Go Fund Me campaigns since the site started operating seven years ago.
Go Fund Me takes 6.75% from each donation, meaning the organisation has collected at least $3800 from Grafton campaigns since 2010.
ARM Newsdesk research reveals that Clarence Valley-based appeals for cash cover everything from paying for funerals, publishing a children's book, cancer patient support, sick kids to injured pets.
The region's most successful campaign is Somerville Family in which 162 people gave $19,000 to help the Somerville family after Julie Somerville was diagnosed with cancer.
The goal for this fundraiser was $10,000.
Other successful campaigns included Help Bailey to Walk which has raised $15,420 of a $51,000 goal. The money will help a young cerebral palsy patient walk following extensive surgery.
Mutton Family Fund raised $2650 of a requested $5000, to help the Mutton family cope following a family member being hospitalised for a serious heart condition.
Wixy's Building Fund has collected $2500 to pay for a $4500 home to house a small family in the Southern Philippines and Support Badger to Vegas World Champ raised $2400 to help pay for bodybuilder Brad Clarke to attend a competition in America.
Only two of the region's Go Fund Me pages have raised more than $10,000, 11 pages raised up to $10,000 and six raised $5 to $1000.
The remaining nine Clarence Valley Go Fund Me pages have no donations.
Consumer group Choice says potential donors should do a bit of research before shelling out their cash when they see a plea for help, just in case it was a scam.
"As a consumer, if you're planning on putting your money into a project you do need to do your homework,” Choice spokesman Tom Godfrey said.
"The onus is very much on you because there are very few legal or other requirements on the person actually asking for the money.”
Mr Godfrey also suggested donors and site creators make sure they were across the fees charged by crowdfunding sites.
Danielle Logue is one of Australia's leading experts on crowdfunding.
Dr Logue said Go Fund Me-type fundraising campaigns were popular because they allowed generous Clarence Valley residents to "connect” with causes on a personal level as opposed to being "mugged” by street collectors.
"The whole model of giving is shifting,” said the University of Technology Sydney management discipline group senior lecturer.
"Ease is one of the reasons why they're successful.
"People are becoming more familiar with, and trusting of, donating online.
"Campaigns are set up to provide you with that individual connection and to provide ongoing feedback of how the cause is going.
"What we call chugging - that is the mugging for charity form of fundraising strategy - turns a lot of people off, unlike these campaigns.”
Turning a charitable idea into a fundraising success
NEEDING money to help her young grandson Bailey walk, Yamba's Ann Verran turned to Go Fund Me for inspiration.
Bailey has cerebral palsy.
The little lad has endured extensive surgery and other medical treatments to fix his dislocated hips and straighten his legs in the hopes of being able to walk like his twin brother Cooper.
"It was going to be hugely expensive and my daughter is a single mum,” Ms Verran said of the boy's treatments.
"I thought that the community had been great and they have supported my daughter with a lot of different things like wheelchairs.
"But I knew she was going to need money for therapists who can range from $70 to $185 an hour.”
Ms Verran started the Help Bailey to Walk Go Fund Me page in April of 2015.
Since then, 142 generous donors have given $15,400 to help Bailey find his feet.
Ms Verran said she looked at a lot of crowdfunding sites and settled on Go Fund Me because it was easy to use for both campaigners and donors.
"I liked that you could acknowledge the donors either personally or through linking to Facebook,” she said.
"With their payments, the money goes into an account seven days after it arrives at Go Fund Me.
"A lot of the other sites you have to apply to withdraw and there's a lot of rigmarole involved.”
Ms Verran said there was more to raising money than just starting a page.
She said it was important to give donors a clear story when asking for people to dig deep and to also ensure there were regular updates for current contributors and for those who might want to donate to the cause.
"If you're going to put a photo up on the page you want something that shows why the person needs help,” she said.
"So we chose a photo of Bailey laughing as a therapist measures his legs so it indicates what might happen during the operation.
"A lot of people have given a lot of money so now I let the donors know about his accomplishments - for example when he does something special like swimming.
"I say thanks for the donations and explain how they are helping improve Bailey's life.”
What the tax office says about money-making campaigns
Clarence Valley residents raising money through Go Fund Me have no need to worry about tax implications unless they provide a product or service in return for donations.
Certified Practising Accountants Australia tax policy head Paul Drum explained money donated to personal causes, such as helping a family member in crisis, would be seen as a gift by the Australian Tax Office.
Mr Drum said this meant the money did not need to be declared when completing tax returns.
He said there was a downside though as contributors could not declare their donation in their tax returns unless the organisation receiving the cash was a deductible gift recipient.
Mr Drum said entrepreneurs seeking donations in return for a share in a proposed business or an actual product did face tax implications.
"If for example you said 'I've invented a new motorcycle helmet and if you give us money to get this to market we guarantee you'll be one of the first people in the world to get this new helmet', then you're selling a helmet in a way. So there are income tax implications because this is business oriented.”
The Federal Government was forced back to the drawing board when 12 months ago when its Corporations Amendment (Crowd-Sourced Funding) Bill failed to make it through Parliament, with Labor claiming it failed to address stakeholder concerns.
Cashing in on a crowd - who's who in the online charity world
THERE are a number of internet-based crowdfunding sites operating in Australia.
Go Fund Me is the site most individuals turn to raise money for causes that impact them directly - such as helping a sick mate or collecting money to send a child to a sporting event.
The site describes itself as "the world's largest social fundraising platform” and claims to have collected more than $3 billion from more than 25 million donors.
Chuffed.org and Start Some Good target people and organisations wanting to raise money for community-based social enterprises such as housing for the homeless.
Pozible.com, Kickstarter.com and IndieGoGo.com are popular with budding entrepreneurs who want the community to fund projects such as music albums or business start-ups.
These three sites also provide a platform for individuals to raise money for personal projects such as helping mates or family through tough times.
All of the crowdfunding sites charge fees.
Go Fund Me, for example, takes a total of 6.75% from the donation pool before it is released to the page creator.
Pozible collects 3-5%, depending on the amount raised. It also charges 2.4-3.4% plus 30c for each credit card or PayPal transaction; and it has a bitcoin charge as well.
Kickstarter keeps 5% of all funds raised plus it collects 3% and 20 cents for each credit card transaction.
StartSomeGood.com takes 8% from donations and IndieGoGo collects 7-12%, including credit card charges.
Unlike the other crowdfunding sites, Chuffed.org campaigners do not pay any fees, instead donors pay 2-2.9% plus a 30c payment processing fee when they contribute to a cause.
- ARM NEWSDESK
TOP 10 CLARENCE VALLEY GO FUND ME CAMPAIGNS
CAMPAIGN, RAISED, DONORS
Somerville Family, $19,040, 162
Help Bailey to Walk, $15,420, 142
Mutton family fund, $2,650, 31
Wixy's Building Fund, $2,535, 32
Support Badger to Vegas World Champ, $2,470, 27
We honoured Ash with Love, $2,100, 48
Blankets with Love, $1700, 41
Film for TAFE, $1500, 18
Surgery for Lesie, $1400, 7
Help the Porters! HD family in need, $1300, 20
Source: Go Fund Me