The Associated Press reports that the more than 430 fundraisers posted on the GoFundMe website after the mass shooting at a gay nightclub in Orlando have exposed weaknesses inherent in these popular do-it-yourself charity campaigns: waste, questionable intentions and little oversight. The fundraisers — an average of more than four for each of the 49 killed and 53 wounded — include travelers asking for cash, a practitioner of ancient healing, a personal safety instructor who sells quick loaders for assault rifles, and even convicted identity impostors. “There was a deluge,” said Holly Salmons, president of the Better Business Bureau for Central Florida. “It was almost impossible for us or anyone else to be able to vet.”
The crowdfunding sites operate outside traditional charitable circles and often beyond the reach of government regulation. Appeals can be created in minutes by almost anyone and shared around the world. The officially sanctioned Equality Florida campaign raised more than $7 million via GoFundMe, but another $1.3 million went to smaller appeals — mostly set up by people with little or no charity experience. The AP examined 30 GoFundMe campaigns linked to the Orlando shootings. Half said donations would be used for legitimate-sounding purposes: to cover funeral, medical and other costs. But most campaigns lacked key details, such as exactly what the donations would cover or even who was asking for them. Only nine of the 30 organizers agreed to interviews.