GoFundMe officials working to ensure donations to help Fiona victims are verified

Popular donation platform said their top priority is donor safety

The impact of hurricane Fiona on Puerto Rico left most of the island without power and thousands of damaged homes, buildings and overflowed rivers.

ORLANDO, Fla. – The impact of Hurricane Fiona on Puerto Rico left most of the island without power and thousands of damaged homes, buildings and overflowed rivers.

According to FEMA, four people were killed, but there are no reports of missing people.

To help the victims, fundraisers have been set up through the popular platform known as GoFundMe.

“Immediately following the news reports after hurricane Fiona, GoFundMe mobilized our crisis response team, and so we began monitoring the platforms for these fundraisers that have been created,” Leigh Lehman, director of communications for GoFundMe, said.

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GoFundMe said their top priority is donor safety and making sure their money is going to the right place. To give donors assurance, a centralized hub was created with verified fundraisers for the victims of hurricane Fiona.

“When you go to that centralized hub, you know that all of these fundraisers have been verified by our team; folks can feel assured that their donation is going to the right place,” Lehman said.

The company said the verification process includes identifying the organizer, researching who the funds are being raised for and what the relationship is between the fundraiser organizer and the recipient.

“It is certainly confirming the identity of the fundraiser organizer, it is confirming that banking information and that they have a clear flow of funds meaning that they have a way to get the funds to the exact person,” Lehman said.

But what can donors do to make sure their donation ends up in the right hands?

“As donors come to the page, when they’re reviewing a fundraiser, make sure does it have a clear title? Are the story and the image clear and concise? Also as you’re reviewing it, do you understand how the funds will be used?” Lehman said.

If a donor has doubts about the fundraiser, there is a report tab you can use and that will alert a GoFundMe specialist to investigate.

“After a fundraiser has been reported or elevated to our specialist team and our trust and safety team has investigated, outcomes can range from placing a hold on the fundraiser pending that further review to outright removal and in some cases ban a user,” Lehman said. “In the very rare case that when something isn’t right with a fundraiser, donors may be eligible for a full refund of their donation.”

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About the Author:

Carolina Cardona highlights all Central Florida has to offer in her stories on News 6 at Nine. She joined News 6 in June 2018 from the Telemundo station in Philadelphia.