Although the organization has not elaborated on how the money will be distributed, or to whom, the campaign and Equality Florida are legitimate. Equality Florida has confirmed its support of the GoFundMe page on its Facebook account and in a news release; the 19-year-old nonprofit has, among other things, successfully lobbied to add explicit protections for gender identity and sexuality to Florida’s state hate-crimes statute.
“Every penny raised will be distributed directly to the victims and their families,” the organization said in a statement. “We are working with a team of attorneys and experts, including the National Center for Victims of Crime, which deployed funds in both Chattanooga and Aurora, to ensure funds are distributed correctly.”
Equality Florida’s campaign is only the second GoFundMe campaign to collect $1 million, and the first to clear $2 million. The previous record-holder, a viral campaign to cover medical expenses for a 4-year-old South Carolina girl, received $500,000 in contributions over a two-week period and $2 million total.
GoFundMe is sometimes criticized in cases like this one for charging fundraisers an 8-percent fee; in anticipation of that critique, perhaps, the site donated $100,000 to the Equality Florida campaign this morning.
“The campaign is the largest and fastest growing in GoFundMe’s history,” spokesman Bobby Whithorne said. “Our thoughts are with the victims and all those affected by this terrible attack.”
Notably, of GoFundMe’s five most-successful campaigns, four are related to fatal shootings or terrorist attacks. In 2015, donors contributed nearly $820,000 for Chris Mintz, who was shot seven times during the Umpqua Community College attack, in Roseburg, Ore. Two years before that, donors raised a combined $1.6 million over the course of two campaigns for Jeff Bauman and Celeste and Sydney Corcoran, all three of whom were severely injured during the Boston Marathon bombing.
It would seem that, in those cases as in this one, people just wanted to do something: “Tears are not enough,” wrote one donor, who gave $500.
This story was updated at 3:30 p.m. with new numbers and a statement from GoFundMe.