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Toys for Tots fund-drive fails due to success

A cautionary tale for anyone wanting to use PayPal to raise money for charity: Cartoonist’s Toys for Tots funds denied

Uriarte said he wished he could have been part of that effort, but his PayPal account was flagged after thousands poured in during the first 48 hours. As a standard precaution to guard against illegal activities, PayPal contacted Uriarte.

“When they realized it was for a charity, they told me they require legal proof that the money is actually being raised for a charity – and not for my own sinister purposes,” Uriarte wrote on his blog.

Proof usually means presenting a tax-exemption identification, said a company representative, but in Uriarte’s case a letter from the foundation saying he was acting on their behalf would have sufficed.

I’ve seen money raised through PayPal without problems – a lot more than $3000. Not sure what the determining factor is. Kickstarter might be the better option.

Community Comments

#1 Eve Owen
January/3/2011
@ 2:35 pm

Unfortunately, Alan’s suggestion isn’t a better option. According to Kickstarter:

Creative projects only
Kickstarter cannot be used to fund for charity projects or causes. While there are countless causes worthy of support, we believe that creativity deserves its own space.

#2 Alec Fritz
January/3/2011
@ 2:45 pm

I’ve seen this before at somethingawful.com where they opened a paypal account to help with relief in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. Thousands was raised in hours, the account was locked and eventually all the money was given back to those that donated. I think Paypal was right because there was no accountability that the money was going to go where it was supposed to. It would have been a better idea to just tell people to donate to Red Cross or directly to Toys for Tots in this case.

#3 Alan Gardner
January/3/2011
@ 2:58 pm

@Alec – I completely agree. Paypal is in its right to lock the account to prevent fraud. As @Eve points out, Kickstarter isn’t a viable option either. I’m sure something is out there.

#4 Meredith Randazzo
January/3/2011
@ 3:36 pm

I think it’s a worthy effort, but if a cartoonist wants to raise money for a charity, a link on the artists website to the charity’s official page might suffice.

#5 Mike Peterson
January/4/2011
@ 4:30 am

There is enough fraud — and suspicion of fraud — following any disaster that it makes sense to send people directly to the major organizations or to local organizations.

But to really harness the Internet for this sort of thing, it would be good for someone to develop an Amazon-style tracking system so that, if I put a UNICEF link on my site, you could still see a total of who donated through that link. (i.e., as Amazon can credit me for someone who buys a book using the link at my site)

This would encourage people to add the link in the first place, while also encouraging their readers to donate because they could see the impact of their actions.

#6 henry Clausner
January/4/2011
@ 8:48 am

…i agree with Meredith.. i use paypal when selling some artwork..but for fundraising, why use a company that takes a percentage? Have them send the money right to you.

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