Should you start a GoFundMe for someone in need of financial assistance?


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Someone you know is in a difficult financial situation and you want to help. You cannot provide all the help you need yourself, so consider starting a GoFundMe on your behalf.

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While this can be a quick and easy way to get the funds you need, you have gotten into a bit of a conflict.

In most cases, a GoFundMe is created for someone who is in a difficult situation that they did not expect. So the last thing you want is to create drama through a fundraiser.

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Maryanne Parker, founder of Manor of Manners, a San Diego-based etiquette consultancy, said it was okay to start a GoFundMe for a family member or very close friend who needs financial help – usually after getting permission has caught up.

“If there is an unexpected death in the family and the individual needs financial help, we can move on to the GoFundMe account after a real talk,” she said. “If the person who needs help is injured or ill and cannot seek help themselves, we can set up a GoFundMe fund.”

Of course, there are many different reasons someone might need a GoFundMe. Even if the person is technically able to start their own fundraiser, Parker said it was sometimes okay to do so without first consulting the recipient.

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For example, she said if a friend’s child has to attend an important sports camp that could have an impact on their future, but you know they can’t afford it, then it is perfectly appropriate to surprise them with a GoFundMe fundraiser . She said it was also acceptable to start a GoFundMe for your best friend when their pet is sick and you know they don’t have the money to have a procedure necessary.

If starting a GoFundMe is inappropriate, Parker has advised against doing so unless you are truly close to the person in need of help.

“That can be perceived as intrusive,” she says. “There is a strong personal element to the GoFundMe account and we might be out of place if we open one.”

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Also, she said if the reason for GoFundMe isn’t particularly important, the founding can be perceived as greedy and rash. She said some people are also not interested in pointing out the vulnerability that comes with being a recipient of a fundraiser.

“Organizing a GoFundMe campaign can harm our relationships and cause grief to our friend or family member,” she said. “Some people have great pride and dignity, and it could be quite uncomfortable to have a very personal situation before the world.”

Before proceeding, Jodi RR Smith, president of Mannersmith Etiquette Consulting, based in Marblehead, Massachusetts, agrees that making sure the person needs your help is important. After confirming this, she said that you need permission to share certain information publicly.

“Be sure you know exactly how much of your private affairs you can share,” she said. “Even if this is your spouse or child, you need to consider their feelings before proceeding.”

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She said you should also think about how much time and effort you want to devote to the cause.

“Is this a one-time, temporary situation or will this continue?” She recommended asking yourself. “Are you willing and able to pay sustained attention to fundraising?”

Additionally, Smith said you need to review any personal impact you may face. She said you should consider factors like the bank account the funds are being sent to, tracking the funds and withdrawals, who has access to the funds and what they can be used for, and any tax implications of GoFundMe.

“Take the time to speak to a lawyer and accountant to make sure your kindness doesn’t turn into a financial nightmare,” she said.

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Additionally, she said that you should be aware that starting a GoFundMe for one person could invite calls for more in the future.

“By creating such a fund for a friend or relative, you open yourself up to inquiries from others in need,” she said. “Know your limits so you know when or not you will be coordinating such an effort again.”

Starting a GoFundMe can be a very appreciated gesture, but think about it first. While every situation is unique, it is always important to make sure that you are not exaggerating or exaggerating any other person’s personal situation.

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Last updated: September 2, 2021

This article originally appeared on Should You Start a GoFundMe for Someone in Need of Financial Aid?


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