“It was like one, two, three,” senior Jessica Silon said about Gofundme.com. “It was so easy for people to click on the link and donate.”

Gofundme.com is a website where anybody with a cause can set up an account to collect donations. It is the “world’s first personal fundraising website,” according to their homepage.

Users can create an account and insert a picture with a short bio about their cause. They can tell potential donators where the funds will be going to with a dollar amount that is named the “goal” for the project. After your profile is complete, it can be shared to Facebook to encourage the user’s friends to donate.

“The site tells you to go through Facebook because it is your biggest network and it is the place that the most people can see it,” Silon said.

Since 2010, the website has been used to fund hospital and veterinarian bills, college tuition, trips and many other causes.

“People have them for so many reasons, like having a sick family member, or they want to do something they can’t afford,” Silon said. “They could even have one that says ‘I want to go shopping.’”

Silon went on a volunteer excursion to San Jose, Costa Rica, to donate her time to a rehabilitation center. She spent time with mothers that need assistance getting back on the “right track” spending much of her time working with children 6 months to 6 years of age at the childcare center.

Silon’s goal was to raise $1,100 for her month-long trip. “In the first 12 hours of me sharing it on Facebook, I raised $400,” she said. Silon would send thank you emails to the people that gave her donations.

To make donations on gofundme.com, first click the donate button, then it asks for your credit card number, and within a day or two the money is transferred to your account on the website.

Josh Richards, student at the University of New Haven, has been only using the site for a short time and said it’s easy to navigate. He is raising money to purchase a more advanced camera body and lens to improve his photography career.

“I didn’t want it to be strictly donations, so I added donation levels,” he said. “If you reach a certain level, you get a simple reward as a thank you from me.”

For example, if someone donates $50 to his account, he will send the donor an 8×10 picture from his gallery with a “Thank You” on the back. So far, Richards has raised $110 since he opened the account last week. His goal is $5,500 for the new equipment.

“If I raise $500, I will shave my head,” he said. “It’s something that no one that knows me would expect me to do. It’s a way to give people a reason to donate.”

Christine Nugent, owner of Mama’s Adirondack Trunk, a furniture and accessory store in Plattsburgh, has also had some experience with gofundme.com.

“Every dollar we raised, we put in a raffle ticket for a bench we made,” Nugent said. “We started getting our name out and money back for the bench.”

Since then, the business has used the site to take on a cause close to their hearts.

“Now we use it to donate to Baxter,” she said. “He is at the Adirondack Humane Society, and he is a dog that needs surgery on his ACL.” Baxter needs $18,000 to get the surgery, and right now he has less than half of what he needs to get it.

“I definitely plan on continuing to use the website to help my business,” she said.

Silon said in the short time she used her account, she was surprised by the positive feedback she received.

“It made me realize that there are people out there willing to help,” Silon said. “Money is such a little part of the experience, but if I didn’t raise the money that I did, I wouldn’t have been able to go.”

“GoFundMe made my trip possible.”

Email Lisa Scivolette at lisa.scivolette@cardinalpointsonline.com.

<a href="https://cardinalpointsonline.com/byline/lisa-scivolette/" rel="tag">Lisa Scivolette</a>

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