It will take several months to distribute the more than $9.1 million raised so far for the victims of a fatal bus crash involving the Humboldt Broncos, says the platform hosting the online crowdfunding campaign — the largest ever in Canada.
More than 100,000 donors in 65 countries have contributed to the GoFundMe campaign — ranked among the five most successful campaigns ever on the platform — with donations ranging from $5 to $50,000 coming from individuals, families, sports teams and multinational corporations.
A spokeswoman for GoFundMe declined to say whether the money would be dispersed only among the families of the 16 people who died after a bus carrying a junior hockey team collided with a truck last week, or if it would also go to the 13 others who were injured.
“It’s still too soon for that level of detail and the distribution of funds will take time to organize,” Rachel Hollis said in an email. “We will ensure the Humboldt Broncos have all the support they need.”
A campaign of that scale presents logistical challenges, which GoFundMe said it’s still working through.
“This will likely be a process that’ll take several months,” Hollis wrote. “We’ll move as quickly as possible, but in the wake of a tragic and complicated event these things unfortunately take several months to fully resolve.”
GoFundMe said it has safeguards in place to ensure the money goes to the right place, including transferring funds directly to the beneficiary of the campaign, rather than its organizer.
The campaign was organized by Sylvie Kellington, a Humboldt woman whose son played for a youth version of the team, and the beneficiary is “Broncos team officials,” Hollis said, noting that the money will eventually make its way to the families of Broncos players, as promised on the fundraising page.
If questions arise, GoFundMe has a “Trust and Safety team” that will hold the funds until the beneficiary is verified “to our satisfaction,” the company said in a statement.
“And, it’s important to remember that our platform is backed by the GoFundMe Guarantee, which means that in the rare case that GoFundMe, law enforcement or a user finds campaigns are misused, donors will get refunded,” the company said.
In addition to the massive online fundraiser, some used other avenues to contribute money to the cause.
For instance, Saskatchewan hockey officials announced an assistance program for players and their families following the crash. The Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League said Monday that the fund will provide mental health help for everyone involved in its dozen teams across the province, including the Humboldt Broncos.
The money to fund that program had to be raised separately from the online fundraiser, given GoFundMe’s policies that prevent money from going to beneficiaries that weren’t named in the initial campaign.
At another fundraising campaign in Maple Creek, Sask., held by the conservation group Ducks Unlimited Canada Sunday, a set of luggage was donated and auctioned off 13 times, raising $5,000.
“The fella that bought the luggage … said, ‘I’d like to donate it back and I’d like it resold with all the money going to the Broncos,'” said Alan Smith of Ducks Unlimited.
“It sold again and the fella that bought it said, ‘I’d like to donate it back,’ and then it happened again and again and it ended up selling 13 times,” he said. “It was really quite incredible.”
—With files by Peter Goffin