Dear World, the refugee crisis has shaken our conscience

It's complicated, how aid is becoming peer-to-peer, but it’s also a chance for our compassion to become currency.

So how can we take aid into our own hands?

(Photo courtesy of Liberty News)

Millions of Syrian people have been forced from their homes by violence and war. And there are innumerable projects asking for your money to help people survive and rebuild, including calls for creating or joining crowdfunding campaigns.

Simply, crowdfunding is a chance for donors to contribute funds to your cause that you don’t repay; instead, you can offer incentives. Here’s a brief summary of platforms for this specific cause. And, although it’s free to launch your campaigns, fees are deducted from either the total funds raised or from each donation.

Kicksterter, for instance, is leading the pack in officially asking for 100% tax-deductible donations that will go directly to the USA for the UN Refugee Agency to provide food, water, and other essentials, plus help reunite children with families. The campaign is featured on Kickstarter’s home page and as of October 6, 2015, its 7 day tally boasts 88 backers and $4,205 contributed. The hitch, if you’re thinking of starting your own project: Kickstarter is all-or-nothing: If you don’t reach your goal, you have to refund the donations. Plus, Kickstarter gets 5% of any funded project, so inflate your needs.

In contrast, Gofundme is not an all-or-nothing platform, but its fees are a bit more complicated. The US rate is 7.9% plus .30$ per donation. There are hundreds of campaigns named for helping refugees, but I couldn’t find an official one from this company; also, this platform accepts only checks and bank transfers, similar to the personal and small business campaigns of Fundrazr, FundAnything, Funderhut, and Tilt.

Indiegogo: I’m kinda partial to this one because a fantastic former student, Kate Drane, is Senior Director of Outreach for Tech and hardware. The big difference between Indiegogo and Kickstarter – described as the monster platforms – is that Indiegogo allows you to to choose flexible funding or the all-or-nothing model.

While I’ve concentrated on the top platforms for refugee contributions, search for niche crowdfunding sites such as Barnraiser (community for good food), Experiment (scientific research), Patreon (artists and creators), and PledgeMusic (direct-to-fan music platform).

Yes, crowdfunding is impacting the way we can create social change beyond traditional donations. It’s complicated, how aid is becoming peer-to-peer, but it’s also a chance for our compassion to become currency.

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