GoFundMe is a crowdfunding platform that allows people to raise money for events ranging from life events such as celebrations and graduations to challenging circumstances like accidents and illnesses. The company is based in San Diego, California. GoFundMe has had numerous complaints filed against the company claiming that funds have not been disbursed to users when attempting to withdraw raised funds.
The company was founded in May 2010 by Brad Damphousse and Andrew Ballester. Both had previously founded Paygr which is a website dedicated to allowing members to sell their services to the public. Damphousse and Ballester originally created the website under the name "CreateAFund" in 2008 but later changed the name to GoFundMe after making numerous upgrades to the features of the website. In June 2015, it was announced that Damphousse and Ballester had agreed to sell a majority stake in GoFundMe to Accel Partners and to step down from the day-to-day oversight of the company. The deal valued GoFundMe at around $600 million.
GoFundMe allows users to create their own website to describe what they are raising money for. During this process, members can describe their fundraising cause, the amount they hope to raise, and upload photos or video. Once the website is created, GoFundMe allows users to share their project with people through integrated social network links (Facebook, Twitter, etc.) and email. People can then donate to a user’s cause through the website using only a debit card or credit card (no PayPal) and track the progress of their funding. Those who donate can also leave comments on the website in support of the project. GoFundMe generates revenue by automatically deducting a 5% fee from each donation users receive. If the user receives no donations, then no charge is made. In addition to the 5% that GoFundMe deducts from each transaction, WePay collects 2.9% and $0.30 from each GoFundMe transaction.
GoFundMe is unique to crowdfunding in that they are not an incentive-based crowdfunding website. Although they do allow projects that are meant to fund other projects for musicians, inventors, etc., the business model is set up to allow for donations to personal causes and life events such as medical bills. GoFundMe also has a special section dedicated solely to users who are trying to raise money to cover their tuition costs. One of the most notable tuition projects involved helping a user raise $25,000 to pay out of state tuition to a PhD program after that user was selected among 125 applicants into that program.
In 2015, GoFundMe announced that the site would no longer support legal defense funds on their platform. The news came after the site suspended funding for the defense of Sweet Cakes by Melissa, a bakery that was fined for refusing to bake a cake for a same-sex wedding. NARAL, a pro-choice group, has criticized GoFundMe for banning the funding of abortions on their website.