GoFundMe removed Israel Folau’s campaign after violating the for-profit crowdfunding platform’s rules. Folau used the website to ask for funds to back his legal action against Rugby Australia (RA) for wrongful termination.
A spokeswoman for GoFundMe, Nicola Britton said, “as a company, we are absolutely committed to the fight for equality for LGBTIQ+ people and fostering an environment of inclusivity.”
According to the site’s Terms and Conditions, the company may forfeit your GoFundMe page if you are running “campaigns [that are] deem, [in the site’s] sole discretion.” In other words, “legal defense of alleged crimes associated with hate, violence, harassment, bullying, discrimination, terrorism, or intolerance of any kind relating to race, ethnicity, national origin, religious affiliation, sexual orientation, sex, gender or gender identity, or serious disabilities or diseases,” is not allowed.
Folau asked the public to donate A$3 million ($2.1 million) for his legal battle with RA. The page went live last week and already received about A$760,000 ($530,000) donations — which will be refunded after shutting Folau’s campaign.
RA terminated Folau’s contract due to the star player’s Instagram posts that proclaim hate against LGBTQIA+. According to Folau, his termination was related to his religion. He is suing RA claiming that his removal was an act of religious discrimination.
Chief executive Raelene Castle announced that RA has terminated Folau’s contract due to the “values and the qualities of inclusion, passion, integrity, discipline, respect, and teamwork.”
Folau posted that “hell awaits you” to a list of people including homosexuals last April 10. According to BBC, RA gave warnings to Folau related to his anti-gay social media posts in the past.
GoFundMe‘s Social Fundraising Strategy
Folau is not the only one who’ve used the GoFundMe website to raise funds.
According to its website, GoFundMe is the largest social fundraising platform. Launched in 2010, the company boasts a network of 70 million donors.
Fundraising campaigns range from education, medical, to memorial assistance. Individuals can set up a campaign and share their story to GoFundMe‘s donors. Nonprofit organizations can also create a campaign to raise money for their projects.
In 2016, CEO Rob Solomon revealed that celebrities and influencers who used the platform increased over time. Notable personalities who donated to their chosen causes are Taylor Swift, Kristin Bell, and Jon Bon Jovi.
Aside from donations, famous personalities also used the GoFundMe platform to raise money for causes that they believed in. Rapper The Game raised money for a community police officer in Arkansas.
In 2018, The Times Up Movement launched a GoFundMe campaign to support the victims of sexual harassment and assault with legal fees assistance. It raised a total of $24.2 million backed by 21,664 people in its 18-month run.
Sarah Hyland received backlash when she promoted a GoFundMe page dedicated to raising funds for her uncle’s hospitalization and cousin’s funeral costs last year. Most of the backlash is coming from the fact that Hyland reportedly gets over $100,000 per episode in Modern Family.
Other ridiculous GoFundMe campaigns
Reporter Paul Johnson has criticized Folau for using the GoFundMe platform to raise money for his legal battle. Aside from the campaign being tagged as “self-serving,” there were also criticisms about the campaign’s target amount.
Josh Bornstein, an employment lawyer from Maurice Blackburn Lawyers, tweets, “Israel Folau’s case, should not cost more than 300k.”
Aside from Folau, numerous failed campaigns that have since made the fundraisers infamous.
In 2016, a fan named Jeremy Piatt set up a GoFundMe campaign to help Kanye West out of debt after the rapper/entrepreneur ranted on Twitter on how he is broke and can not create his art due to his financial restraints.
Last March, a couple pleaded guilty to federal charges for setting up a GoFundMe account for a homeless veteran to con donors into giving money to them. Their GoFundMe campaign raised nearly $400,000 in 2017. After raising the money, the homeless vet who coerced with the couple sued them on suspicions of withholding money raised on his behalf. The legal suit opened investigations that out-ted the plan of theft through deception in the open.
Another controversial GoFundMe campaign is from an Instagram couple who was asking for money to fund a cycling trip in Africa. Many people criticized the influencers for asking strangers to support their lavish lifestyle while refusing to get a job.