Extremists raised over $6.2 million on crowdfunding websites from 2016 to 2022, According to an Anti-Defamation League study provided exclusively to USA TODAY, An ADL expert said that Bonanza shows that America is in the “days of extremist fundraising”.
Who is raising money, where, for what?
ADL researchers tracked 324 fundraising campaigns linked to extremists, including:
- proud boys
- oath keepers
- white supremacist groups like the Ku Klux Klan
- Extremist Black Hebrew Israeli. (BHI is a new religious sect whose adherents believe that black people are the “true” Hebrews. A subgroup of the group holds racist and anti-Semitic beliefs.)
Researchers tracked campaigns on 10 crowdfunding sites. Most were placed on GivesendGo, which calls itself a “Christian crowdfunding” website founded in 2014. The GivesendGo campaigns accounted for $5.4 million of the total fundraising by the group.
as USA TODAY Reported in 2021Participants in the Capitol riot on January 6, 2021 have used GivesendGo and other crowdfunding sites to raise money for their legal bills and other expenses.
The ADL report concludes that $4.75 million has been raised over the past four years for insurgency-related campaigns at these sites.
The ADL also found what it described as “a number of small, short-lived sites dedicated to extremist and hateful causes.” They included sites with names like “GoyFundMe” and “Hatreon”.
Many of the campaigns tracked by the ADL are small, raising amounts in the hundreds or thousands of dollars. But some have raised tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Shortly after the January 6 insurrection, GoFundMe banned fundraising for travel to political events that were “at risk for violence”. But other sites, notably GivesendGo, have become a favorite of extremists and their supporters.
Crowdfunding Hate:Crowdfunding hate: how white supremacists and other extremists raise money from legions of online followers
Jan 6 Online Fundraising:Uprising fundraiser: Capitol riot extremists, pro-Trump lawyers raise money online for bills
Are extremists raising more money than ever?
Mark Dwyer, an investigator for the ADL’s Center on Extremism, monitors funding sources such as cryptocurrencies and online donations. Dwyer and his team decided to focus on crowdfunding after seeing a significant increase in online fundraising since January 6, he said.
Dwyer said, “I would consider this the pinnacle of extremist funding.”
What is the responsibility of the crowdfunding site?
Oren Segal, vice president of the ADL Center on Extremism, called on crowdfunding sites — specifically GivesendGo — to limit fundraising by extremist and hate groups.
“Crowdfunding is a financial lifeline for various extremists,” Sehgal said. “Major service providers like GoFundMe and GiveSendGo have a responsibility to enforce their terms of service and prevent the exploitation of their platforms by people and groups who traffic in bigotry and violence.”
Responding to GoFundMe and GiveSendGo
GiveSendGo did not respond to multiple requests for comment. It describes itself as a conservative alternative that does not censor crowdfunding campaigns as mainstream platforms do.
Its policies prohibit campaigns promoting hatred, violence and racial intolerance. But co-founder Jacob Wells said in testimony before Canada’s parliament in March that GivesandGo would host campaigns for the Proud Boys if the group planned to. spend money on legal expenses,
Wells said, “We believe deeply, at the core of our existence, that the suppression of speech is far more dangerous than speech itself.”
The largest crowdfunding platform, GoFundMe, says it also prohibits campaigns promoting hate and violence.
“We will continue to strictly enforce our zero tolerance policy against hate, violence, harassment, discrimination or intolerance of any kind,” GoFundMe spokesman Jalen Drummond told USA TODAY.
According to the ADL, the campaigns have raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for anti-Semitic documentaries and propaganda networks and represent 94% of extremist or hate campaigns identified by the ADL.
After declining to comment about that question in response to questions from USA TODAY, GoFundMe later said it was A prolific black Hebrew Israelite banned from fundraising on the platform.
Drummond said, “We do not tolerate antisemitism.”