Crowdfunding sites perform checks, but not for all cases

Checks with crowdfunding websites showed there are measures in place to verify the claims and ensure the donations are used responsibly by beneficiaries, but this is not done for all cases.

The Straits Times asked crowdfunding websites - GIVE.asia, Indiegogo's charity arm Generosity and SimplyGiving - what is done to ensure that donations do go towards the intended essential needs.

A spokesman for Generosity said: "We trust that campaign owners and beneficiaries will use the funds as described in the fund-raising campaigns. If Indiegogo receives complaints... (we) will investigate and take appropriate action where necessary."

SimplyGiving's chief executive Nikki Kinloch said staff would follow up with personal fund-raisers on how they handled the donations, especially for cases involving more money.

GIVE.asia's co-founder Aseem Thakur said its platform "makes it easy for fund-raisers to share their stories and rally support".

"We have a simple belief when it comes to trust and safety - we do not tolerate people lying or people intentionally deceiving donors for financial or personal gain."

When asked if his team found it questionable that a cancer-stricken single mother raised more than $770,000 on GIVE.asia, he replied: "Sometimes, there may be situations which raise doubts but are not considered fraudulent activities, like rumours or speculations of fraud; disagreement with the nature of the campaign or the character of the campaign organiser; custody or family disputes."

NO TOLERANCE FOR DECEPTION

We do not tolerate people lying or people intentionally deceiving donors for financial or personal gain.

GIVE.ASIA'S CO-FOUNDER ASEEM THAKUR

He said it would cooperate with the authorities in the event of an investigation.

There were cases in which donations reached beneficiaries but were not spent wisely.

In 2012, the widow of a cleaner killed in a freak accident received nearly $1 million in insurance payouts and donations from the public, but spent more than half of it on debts, a holiday and a failed business within a year.

Priscilla Goy

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 15, 2017, with the headline 'Crowdfunding sites perform checks, but not for all cases'. Print Edition | Subscribe