One Canadian aid agency rejects the popular idea of crowdfunding to provide aid in favour of more traditional means

Even though crowdfunding has helped to quickly and cheaply raise money for humanitarian aid, major Canadian umbrella group for aid agency Humanitarian Coalition says they don’t normally use this method of fundraising. They plan on sticking with tried and true donation methods.

The United States government is among those groups that have used crowdfunding. In October it partnered with Kickstarter for a campaign to raise money for Syrian refugees.

In similar effort, the United Nations World Food Programme launched a crowdfunding app in order to feed 20,000 Syrian children refugees. Users of the app Share The Meal can donate $0.50 a day, which equals to sharing one meal a day. 

In the spring of 2015, crowdfunding from sites including GlobalGiving and Indiegogo helped raise $20 million in just 60 days to help the millions of people affected by Nepal’s 7.8 magnitude earthquake.

Crowdfunding through third-party sites can be a way to eliminate costs according to Nipa Banerjee, a professor at the University of Ottawa.

“[Crowdfunding] can minimize costs of fundraising efforts for any purpose (including for refugee and humanitarian aid) because it eliminates the need for (or at least minimizes) expenditure in human resources that other forms of fundraising requires,” says Banerjee in an email.

It can be a way to save time during emergencies and situations where there is a large number of refugees and rehabilitation needs in a short period of time, Banerjee adds.

Third-party crowdfunding sites often charge a certain percentage of money raised through them. For example, Kickstarter will charge a five per cent fee only if the project is successfully funded with payment processing fees between three per cent and five per cent.

“Traditional means enable donors, often unavailable on line, to address their civic duties, which bonds a nation through nurturing of humanitarian values, which are Canadian values.” – “Traditional means enable donors, often unavailable on line, to address their civic duties, which bonds a nation through nurturing of humanitarian values, which are Canadian values.” – Nipa Banerjee

This is one of the reasons why Humanitarian Coalition, a group that includes Canada’s leading aid agencies during times of international humanitarian crises, prefers traditional ways of fundraising.

“We have the infrastructure in place to handle large amounts of donations, so there isn’t really a need for Kickstarter from our perspective,” says Yosé Cormier of the Humanitarian Coalition in an email. “We haven’t asked the question (why we don’t crowdfund) and haven’t explored it really, but we would have to ask ourselves, ‘What can Kickstarter bring that we don’t have?’

“My understanding is that they simply provide the infrastructure to handle donations.”

However, Cormier says their operations could be seen as crowdfunding, as they launch appeals for funds from their members such as Oxfam, Oxfam-Quebec, Care Canada, Plan Canada and Save the Children.

They also reach out to individual Canadians across the country and ask them to donate via their website, by phone or by mail. They also encourage individuals, schools and organizations to hold events to fundraise on behalf of the coalition.

The coalition prefers these more personal interactions with Canadians over tools such as crowdfunding. Online and social media based ways to fundraise “leaves out the people who are not tech-savvy and/or have no access to such medium,” says Banerjee.

Banerjee says: “Fundraising in church congregations, for instance, has proved to be very effective in raising public consciousness of international development issues and fundraising for international development projects overseas. Traditional means enable donors, often unavailable on line, to address their civic duties, which bonds a nation through nurturing of humanitarian values, which are Canadian values.”

ajunker@cjournal.ca

Thumbnail image courtesy of MyEFunder .Com/Flickr, Creative Commons.

The editor responsible for this article is Ashley Materi and can be contacted at amateri@cjournal.ca