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💬 "If Government Did Its Job We Might Not Need GoFundMe"

Sway - A New York Times Podcast

Photo by National Cancer Institute / Unsplash

Table of Contents

Host: Kara Swisher
Guest: Tim Cadogan, CEO, GoFundMe
Category: Biz & Tech | 💬 Opinion

Podcast’s Essential Bites:

[3:18] “We really need people to be able to believe that when you see a campaign on GoFundMe, you can trust that it is what it says, and that you can trust that the funds are going where it says that they are. And so whenever a campaign changes the use of funds, we have to take a look at that. […] In [the] example, Tessica Brown (the Gorilla Glue girl) originally wanted the funds to get help removing the glue from her hair. Someone very kindly helped her with that. And so she didn’t need the money for that. So she wanted to send the money to a charity. We just needed to check out that that was the case.”

[4:21] “[To find fraudulent campaigns] we’re looking for keywords. We’re looking for links. So if you’re saying one thing with a campaign, and you’re linking off to other content that says something else — and of course the keywords in the story that you’re using to describe your campaign. […] We also look at the donors and the donations. And we’re running essentially a payments risk similar to a financial institution where we’re looking at those donations— we’re looking at where they’re coming from. Is there a relationship? Does it make sense if it’s a large donation? Do we believe it?”

[7:25] “[W]e have a responsibility to society. And our customers are increasingly keen on companies, not just providing them with a high quality product and service, but standing up for something. In our case, the way that we do this is by crafting a set of terms of service that set some boundaries. We do want to be an open platform to allow all kinds of different people to raise money for everything under the sun. But we think there should be some limits to that. So specifically we prohibit the promotion of misinformation, or the promotion of hate or discrimination, or using a campaign to bully someone or discriminate, or to promote violence or terrorism. And we take those campaigns down.”

[8:40] “[H]eading into the election we had a good sense that things were going to get challenging. And so we had really focused on what would happen in the case of misinformation. And unfortunately that happened, and we took down several hundred campaigns […]. With political events, it’s not against our standard policy to raise funds to go to a rally — a political event — to express your opinion. Obviously once January the 6th happened, we immediately looked at those and said, that’s not a campaign that we want to enable on the platform. And I regret that they were there. […] Going forward we are not going to let campaigns to raise funds for events that have a high likelihood of turning into violence — sort of have the same potential pattern of behavior. So we made that policy change immediately.”

[15:49] “In part, what we’re trying to make sure is that our fundraising platform isn’t used to promote ideas that stray beyond those boundaries because sometimes the fundraiser is used as a symbol. […] I did history as undergrad — postgrad as well. […] The combination of power, strong communication system, emotional message that divides people and an utter a lack of shame — those four things — those are the ingredients [of propaganda].”

[19:48] “[W]e are the largest fundraising platform in the world. So we have this incredible, unique vantage point into what people’s needs are. And if you want to talk about the sort of evolution — what we saw early on — and I’m talking here March, a year ago — we saw PPE was a very big theme early on. And then as stay at home kicked in, you started to see a lot of small businesses setting up campaigns.  […] Then you started to see more things for remote learning. And then most recently, moving up to the fall, we started to see more and more campaigns for rent, for food, for basic necessities, which led us to create a new category to make it even easier for people to get that help. […] And what really struck home was that in January we saw more activity pertaining to Covid than we did in May.”

[22:10] “[We published an Op Ed urging Congress to pass relief for Americans, saying our platform was never meant to be the source of support for basic needs, and it can never be a replacement for robust federal Covid-19 relief that is generous and targeted to help millions of Americans who are struggling]. We knew that the Congress was deciding on the next phase of relief. And so we thought […] we have this unique vantage point. Let’s share the data and put that into the public discourse so that hopefully can help.”

[24:15] “[M]edical debt is the number one cause of personal bankruptcy in America. That’s a huge issue for a lot of people. And so yes, you do see a lot of folks using GoFundMe to help them get the medical expenses covered. We are happy to help them with that. But we don’t view GoFundMe as a substitute for more comprehensive access to health care for everybody. And so that’s why we help people navigate to because as you know, there’s a new open enrollment period for the Affordable Care Act.”

[24:56] “There is no perfect society. […] Really the debate at the end of it is, what are the basic levels of support that you want to offer people in your society? And that’s a debate within all advanced democracies. […] [Many campaigns on GoFundMe are] a way for people to express their love and support of others by helping them financially. I think that that’s always going to have a place. I certainly can’t imagine a society that doesn’t have needs.”

Rating: 🍎🍎🍎

🎙️ Full Episode: Apple | Spotify
🕰️ 28 min | 🗓️ 03/01/2021
✅ Time saved: 26 min