The GoFundMe C.E.O. Wants You to Ask: ‘How Can I Help?’

Is there any inherent contradiction in your mind in GoFundMe being a for-profit corporation?

Actually, I think being for profit is what enables us to do what we do and create such a good platform, because we have to run a global, world-class platform service. We have to keep evolving. We have to keep offering new features. We have to really think about the trust and safety side of our business. We have to manage all of the payments. So being for-profit gives us the ability to hire great people and compete with other tech companies for those people and compensate them, but also have that purpose of being able to say, I’m working at a company that’s doing a truly important thing in the world.

What are you doing to minimize instances of fraud and abuse on the platform?

We live in a society of humans, and the vast majority of people are good and have no ill intent. There are some people that don’t have good intent, but that applies to anyone who runs a big consumer business or even a small business. You can have someone who can try and take something from your shop. So it just tells me that we see human nature, nothing more than that.

In terms of how we deal with that, it’s a blend of technology, which is looking for certain signals and flags. And we’ve been doing this for 11 years now, so we’ve seen not quite everything under the sun. And then there’s a trust and safety team that are very well trained and have a really good playbook for what to look for.

How do you make sure that the money is actually used effectively? And how do you even judge that?

Our job is to make sure that the money gets to the right beneficiary. We put a lot of work into the verification that this is the person that was intended for at the end of the day. Once they have that money, it is their money, and they can make choices. So we don’t have a way to go all the way into what they’re using, the debit card or the credit card to spend the money. It’s pretty rare that we hear of someone doing something completely off the reservation. But at the end of the day, it is their money.

Would the world be a better place if GoFundMe didn’t need to exist in the first place?

No. Life happens and it has good and bad parts. A fundamental part of being human is wanting to get through it together. That never goes away. And we’re a place where people come together and help each other out. None of us can get through life on our own.

How has the way people use the site changed during the pandemic?

The first phase was things like P.P.E. People didn’t have face masks. Medical workers didn’t have gloves and so on. All that stuff was running out. Then you started to see lockdowns and therefore countless campaigns for small businesses, for their employees. That was not new to GoFundMe, but the scale of that was completely different. And then as people were out of work for longer, they sought more rent relief and those kinds of things. With the murder of George Floyd, we saw a lot of activity related to the social justice movement.

But since the middle of last year, that all is coming down and more normal life is coming up. We’ve seen weddings, we’ve seen animals, we’ve seen honeymoons. We just saw kind of a campaign for the U.S. men’s bobsled team to raise the $100,000 to help them, you know, get ready and go to the Winter Olympics. All the things you could imagine, with humans getting on with their lives.

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