Online campaigns for Laval, Que. bus tragedy families raise over $100K

Click to play video: 'Mass held to honour victims of Laval daycare bus crash'
Mass held to honour victims of Laval daycare bus crash
WATCH: The Laval daycare and families at the centre of a horrific tragedy have seen an outpouring of support from across the country after a city bus crashed into a daycare killing two four-year-old children and injuring six other. Supporters and friends have launched several fundraising campaigns to help but as Global’s Amanda Jelowicki reports, , donors should be cautious when giving to a GoFundMe or any other site – Feb 13, 2023

A makeshift memorial brimming with stuffed animals, flowers and cards keeps growing outside the site of the daycare bus tragedy in Laval, Que.

Former Garderie Éducative Ste-Rose educator Linda Cyr dropped off a stuffed animal and a note of condolence, out of respect for the victims.

“It’s just so sad,” she said. ‘We are angry, we want to know why. The families are going to need a lot of support.”

Support for the families of those affected by the tragedy keeps growing in different ways, especially on the fundraising front.

Almost a dozen GoFundMe campaigns have been launched. Some are to benefit the families of the two children killed when a Laval transit bus barreled into the daycare last week. Others are for the six injured children, at least two of which are still in hospital. Some are for the general benefit of the school. So far, more than $100,000 has been raised on these various sites.

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Click to play video: 'Quebec community mourns children killed after bus crashes into daycare'
Quebec community mourns children killed after bus crashes into daycare

While online fundraising has proven immensely popular and helpful to families in the wake of tragedies that strike a chord with the public, experts in the charitable industry caution people should do their research to ensure their money ends up in the right hands.

“When something bad and tragic like this happens, it’s a lovely platform and a way to show support,” said Kate Bahen, the managing director of watchdog Charity Intelligence. “You just need to be a little bit careful.”

Bahen explains that GoFundMe campaigns are unregulated, so anyone can launch a campaign with little monitoring.

Global News reached out to but did not get a response by deadline. On its webpage, the site says one-quarter of its global staff are devoted to trust and safety, and calls itself a dependable platform for fundraising.

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The organization’s website says a fundraising page should answer the following questions:

  • How is the organizer related to the intended recipient of the donations?
  • What is the purpose of the fundraiser and how will the funds be used?
  • Are direct family and friends making donations and leaving words of encouragement?
  • Is the intended recipient in control of the withdrawals? If not, is there a clear path for the funds to reach them?

GoFundMe says if those points are missing, the potential donors should contact the organizer for more information.

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Bahen says there have been instances where fundraising campaigns have been used nefariously. She points to the turmoil following George Floyd’s death in the United States. She said one site in particular popped up on GoFundMe to benefit the Black Lives Matter Foundation.

“Millions and millions of dollars went to the Black Lives Matter Foundation,” Bahen said. “People didn’t know that the Black Lives Matter Foundation was just a charity incorporated by someone who had no connection with the Black Lives Matter movement. You need to do your homework and you need to do your due diligence.”

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Bahen doesn’t think GoFundMe needs more regulation; she believes individuals must do their own research and ensure they know where their funds are going. She said giving to the families directly involved in the fundraising effort is a good start.

“I think it’s always important and it’s difficult when you’re moved by compassion to sort of bring in that ‘hang on a second, where is my money going?’ Is this really going to be where it best helps those families struck by this tragedy,” she said.

Global News contacted the organizers of the GoFundMe pages connected to Laval families but did not receive any responses.

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