As many Canadians are looking for ways to help after the Humboldt Broncos bus collided with a semi-truck, killing 16 hockey players and staff, the Better Business Bureau is warning people to be cautious when donating online.
A GoFundMe page in support of the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League team has already surpassed $12 million.
Broncos’ president Kevin Garinger is expected to speak at 5 p.m. MT to give an update on how the funds will be used.
It is not clear whether the money would be dispersed only among the families of the 16 people killed, or if it would also go to the 13 others who were injured.
Other pages in support of specific victims have also raised thousands of dollars.
While those pages are legitimate, the BBB says there have been some that are not.
There was a report of a false GoFundMe page that purported to be for the Humboldt Broncos, but the person who set up the fundraiser didn’t have any affiliation with the Saskatchewan team and didn’t have any intention to donate the money, Leah Brownridge with the Better Business Bureau told Global News.
“In any tragedy, people are eager to give, they want to help out any way they can, and it’s an emotional decision, and that’s what scammers are counting on,” Brownridge said.
She says people should take the time and research how the money is going to be used, and when it will be given to the people that need it.
She says people need to understand the difference between a charity and a donation page.
“A charity in Canada has to be registered with Canada Revenue Agency,” Brownridge explained.
“Online donation pages are not regulated. So that’s where the opportunity for risk and for scam happens.”
To make sure you’re donating to a legitimate cause, Brownridge offered a few tips:
- Be familiar with the website, use well-known ones like GoFundMe
- Check the website you’re donating to is secure, the url should have “https://” instead of “http://”. Another sign is the lock icon in your browser.
- Look at the text of the donation page: Does it have proper grammar? Does it set out how the funds will be used?
Fees associated with GoFundMe
While GoFundMe previously charged a fee of five per cent to offset the costs associated with the site, it recently changed the platform’s pricing structure to a voluntary tipping model so someone’s “entire donation will go to the beneficiary of the campaign,” spokesperson Rachel Hollis told Global News.
Donors can choose to tip in a drop-down menu, which defaults to 10-15 per cent, but people can switch it to zero per cent.
There is still a 2.9 per cent fee, plus $0.30 per transaction, to offset costs associated with credit card fees; for the current amount of over $12 million with over 130,000 transactions, that works out to more than $380,000.
But officials with Imagine Canada, which helps and monitors Canadian charities, told Global News this is in line with industry standards.
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