Advertisement
  1. News

More than $2.6 million raised as donations pour in for Orlando victims

Contributions were rising quickly Monday to a gofundme.com account set up in the wake of the Orlando shootings. [gofundme.com]
Published Jun. 14, 2016

One donor gave $25 and wrote that her heart aches; another $5, and the promise of more when he gets paid.

In the wake of the worst mass shooting in United States history, tens of thousands of people seeking an outlet for their grief donated to online funds for victims and their families

More than $2.6 million was donated to a fund started by Equality Florida on crowd-funding website GoFundMe in less than 48 hours since a lone gunman took the lives of 49 people at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando.

That made it the largest and fastest-growing campaign in the crowd-funding website's six-year history, said GoFundMe spokesman Bobby Whithorne.

As of Monday evening, more than 60,000 individual donations had been made.

"We called for people to donate blood and we called for people to contribute to the families of the victims and to the survivors," said executive director Nadine Smith. "In both cases, people have exceeded all of our expectations."

The group initially set a fundraising goal of $100,000 but continued to raise it after donations kept flooding in. By Monday afternoon, it was setting its sights on raising $3 million.

On the same website, another online fund set up by the GLBT Community Center of Central Florida raised more than $250,000.

Smith said none of the money will go to Equality Florida, a nonprofit group founded in St. Petersburg that advocates for the LGBT community.

The fund will be overseen by the National Center for Victims of Crime, a Washington, D.C., nonprofit group that performed a similar role in the wake of mass shootings in Aurora, Colo., and Chattanooga, Tenn.

In the wake of earlier mass shootings, the center established the National Compassion Fund to provide more fairness and transparency in how donations are awarded, said Tara Ballesteros, the center's director for public affairs.

A panel of victim representatives and individuals with experience with compensating crime victims will determine individual awards, which will be based solely on the type of injury and do not include other factors such as age, income or whether the victim has insurance.

The center fundraises separately to raise money to pay its staff and cover its administrative costs.

"All of the contributions received through the fund go directly to the victims," Ballesteros said.

GoFundMe deducts a 5 percent fee from every donation and charges a 3 percent processing fee, according to its website. It is donating $100,000 to the Equality Florida fund, Whithorne said.

"Our thoughts are with the victims and all those affected by this terrible attack," he said in an email.

Executive Pride, an LGBT group for corporate executives who want to invest in civil rights campaigns and help young entrepreneurs, donated $30,000 to the Equality Florida fund. Jeffree Star, a Californian singer-songwriter and fashion designer, donated $20,000.

Most of the donations were small. Many donors added messages to share their grief and show support. Others called for stronger gun-control laws.

Smith said she has also heard from other nonprofit groups that are collecting donations. At some nightclubs, people passed around a bucket to collect cash for victims and their families, she said.

"It's easy to feel powerless at a moment like this," Smith said. "I know it matters that we're all finding the way that we can to do something that will ease the pain a little bit."

Contact Christopher O'Donnell at (813) 226-3446 or codonnell@tampabay.com. Follow @codonnell_Times.

ALSO IN THIS SECTION

  1. Joshua Michael Nichols, 21, was arrested by Pasco County Sheriff's deputies on Saturday in connection to the early morning shooting death of an unidentified man during an argument outside a Spring Hill home. [Pasco County Sheriff's Office] ANASTASIA DAWSON  |  Pasco County Sheriff's Office
    One person is in custody. The Pasco County Sheriff’s Office is investigating.
  2. Yesterday• Pasco
    Dr. Rao Musunuru, MD, received his third “Paul Harris Award.” the highest recognition from the Rotary Club, on Aug. 15. The pin was presented to Dr. Musunuru, a nationally-recognized cardiologist, by Rotary 6950 District Governor Allen Collins in recognition of his humanitarian and philanthropic services to the people of Pasco County and the State of Florida for nearly 40 years. Pictured: Dr. Rao Musunuru, MD, (left) and Rotary 6950 District Governor Allen Collins. Jemith Rosa/Hudson Rotary Club
    News and notes about your neighbors
  3. A Lancaster County Sheriff's deputy walks around the Old Skool Sports Bar and Grill, the scene of a shooting early in the morning, north of Lancaster, S.C. on Saturday, Sept. 21, 2019.  Lancaster County Sherriff's Office said in a statement that the agency was investigating a fatal shooting that also injured several people.  (Jessica Holdman/The Post And Courier via AP) JESSICA HOLDMAN  |  AP
    Two adult males were shot and killed.
  4. Swedish environmental activist Greta Thunberg, right, listens to U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, left, during the Youth Climate Summit at United Nations headquarters, Saturday, Sept. 21, 2019.  (AP Photo/Eduardo Munoz Alvarez) EDUARDO MUNOZ ALVAREZ  |  AP
    Swedish 16-year-old activist Greta Thunberg started the climate strike movement with her lone protest in front of her country’s parliament.
  5. Stay with tampabay.com for the latest news and updates. Times
    She was not in a crosswalk when she was hit, troopers say.
  6. Vice President Mike Pence reacts during an immigration and naturalization ceremony in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building on the White House grounds, Tuesday, Sept. 17, 2019, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon) ALEX BRANDON  |  AP
    Katie Waldman, a former University of Florida student senator, was accused of helping discard independent student newspapers with a front-page endorsement of a rival party’s candidate. | Analysis
  7. Check tampabay.com for the latest breaking news and updates. JAMAL THALJI  |  Tampa Bay Times
    John Clark used a shotgun to kill his mother and another man. Then he returned to the crime scene with a shotgun, according to the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office.
  8. Sandra Gero, a regional search associate at Ray and Associates, hosts a meeting at the Middleton High School auditorium and gathers public comments on what people are looking for for the next Hillsborough County School Superintendent on Thursday, Sept. 19, 2019 in Tampa. LUIS SANTANA  |  Times
    Using public meetings and a survey, they’re painting a picture of the ideal school leader.
  9. The main exhibit center at the Museum of Science & Industry in Tampa once stirred the imagination with dinosaurs and stars. Now, it's empty, but on the verge of rebirth as a movie studio.
    The County Commission has set aside $2 million for the project as the Film Commission studies the demand for it.
  10. President Donald Trump speaks during a news conference with Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison in the East Room of the White House, Friday, Sept. 20, 2019, in Washington. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky) PATRICK SEMANSKY  |  AP
    Hunter Biden worked for a Ukrainian gas company.
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement