Other countries have rules for online fundraising, committee probing convoy protest hears

A number of different international locations have adopted legal guidelines to control how crowdfunding platforms can be utilized to lift cash for causes, officers from the crowdfunding platform GoFundMe advised members of a parliamentary committee Thursday.

Whereas Canada has few legal guidelines that regulate crowdfunding platforms, Kim Wilford, basic counsel for GoFundMe, stated another international locations have launched guidelines.

“In some jurisdictions, we see that fundraising for charity is sort of regulated,” she stated, responding to questions from MPs about legal guidelines Canada might contemplate adopting.

“We see that that you must truly go to the federal government to get a allow to do this in locations like Australia, in locations like Denmark, in locations like Finland.”

Representatives of GoFundMe are showing earlier than the Home of Commons finance committee to reply questions on its function in elevating funds for the anti-vaccine mandate protest convoy that paralyzed downtown Ottawa for 3 weeks final month and blocked quite a lot of border crossings throughout Canada.

Wilford stated Singapore has a voluntary code of apply for on-line fundraising platforms to guard customers and stop knowledge leaks, privateness breaches and fraud. She stated Romania is the one nation she is aware of of that has rules limiting the scale of particular person donations.

Do not penalize worthy causes, MPs advised

Wilford referred to as on the federal government to remember the flexibility of crowdfunding platforms to lift cash for good causes. She stated GoFundMe has raised $50 million from folks in additional than 140 international locations to assist these affected by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

“It’s fantastic how folks can come collectively to assist one different of their time of want, so we wish to ensure that we do not do something right here that might affect that,” she stated.

The convoy protest attracted hundreds of thousands of {dollars} in donations by way of crowdfunding platforms – first on GoFundMe, then on GiveSendGo. A separate on-line cryptocurrency fundraiser raised greater than $1 million.

It isn’t but clear how a lot of the cash raised has made its approach to protest organizers or the protesters themselves.

GoFundMe says most donations got here from Canada

GoFundMe president Juan Benitez advised the committee that, based mostly on an evaluation by its cost processor of the kinds of funds that had been used, 88 per cent of the greater than $10 million collected got here from donors situated in Canada, whereas 12 per cent got here from outdoors Canada.

Benitez stated 86 per cent of the 120,000 donors got here from Canada. That implies that 14 per cent, or roughly 16,800 folks, donated from outdoors Canada.

“There simply was not a big overseas contribution,” he stated.

Benitez stated the evaluation did not determine any significantly massive particular person donations from worldwide donors. Wilford stated the most important donation to the GoFundMe marketing campaign — for $30,000 — got here from a donor situated in Canada.

Benitez stated solely a handful of donations got here from people situated in Russia and the corporate didn’t see indicators of coordinated exercise in these donations.

A protester yells ‘Freedom!’ at an individual who tried to stay a paper signal on a truck criticizing the convoy protest on its 18th day in Ottawa on Monday, Feb. 14, 2022. (Justin Tang/The Canadian Press)

GoFundMe’s statistics do not match the numbers offered by its rival GiveSendGo, which took up the convoy protest fundraiser after GoFundMe concluded on Feb. 4 that the marketing campaign didn’t meet its phrases and situations, shut it down and introduced it will refund all donations.

GiveSendGo had been invited to look earlier than the committee. In an e-mail, co-owner Heather Wilson stated they could not seem Thursday as a result of they had been travelling.

At a gathering of the Home of Commons public security committee on March 3, GiveSendGo co-owner Jacob Wells testified that, at that time, 60 per cent of the cash raised on his platform got here from Canada and 37 per cent got here from the USA.

GiveSendGo says it is refunding donations

Based on knowledge hacked round Feb. 10 after which launched broadly on-line, the most important donation to the convoy fundraiser was $90,000 US, within the title of an American businessman.

Earlier this week, the convoy fundraising marketing campaign was nonetheless lively. A discover on the web site now says the marketing campaign is “at the moment disabled and can’t obtain new donations.”

On the level it was paused, the marketing campaign had raised $9.7 million US, or $12.4 million Canadian.

Anti-vaccine mandate protesters collect on Wellington Avenue in entrance of Parliament Hill on Feb. 13, 2022. (Félix Desroches/Radio-Canada)

A discover posted on GiveSendGo’s convoy fundraiser website says it’s planning to refund donations to forestall the cash from being seized.

“The Canadian authorities has criminalized the receiving of funds from the Freedom Convoy 2022 marketing campaign and now try to grab the funds to redistribute,” the corporate wrote. “With the intention to shield our Givers and the meant functions of their items, all donations not already transferred to the recipients of the Freedom Convoy 2022 marketing campaign can be refunded robotically, no refund requests vital.”

Wilson has not but responded to questions from CBC Information about how the refund course of will work and when donors will obtain refunds.

Elizabeth Thompson could be reached at

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