Crowdsourcing website GoFundMe has frozen $350,000 worth of donations to a group called Black Lives Matter (BLM) Foundation after BuzzFeed informed them that the group is not affiliated with the Black Lives Matter movement.
After George Floyd died on May 25 after being kneeled on his neck by a police officer, donations to racial justice organizations poured in. Also, various individuals organized campaigns on charity sites like GoFundMe while employers agreed to match their employees’ donations on Benevity and other websites. Both platforms have the BLM Foundation in the list of recipients.
The Santa Clarita, California-based BLM Foundation was founded in 2015. Its founder Robert Ray Barnes told Buzzfeed that it has nothing to do with the movement.
The foundation’s mission is to have “unity with the police department,” which is different from the movement that protests against racism and police brutality.
According to Business Insider, employees of Apple, Google, Microsoft, Dropbox, and other big companies also have collected over $4 million for the BLM movement through charity platform Benevity, but the funds are not yet been received.
Both platforms have vowed to work with donors and campaign organizers to get the funds to their rightful recipients.
Since earlier this month, the global Black Lives Matter movement has raised an estimated $4.35 million for an organization called the Black Lives Matter Foundation. However, most funds are now in question after BuzzFeed News discovered that it is unrelated to the protesters.
The foundation and movement may have the same names, but their beliefs towards ending police brutality and racial injustice are different. Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella and Dropbox CEO Drew Houston also listed the foundation as an eligible organization in their memos sent to employees.
According to the BuzzFeed report, both platforms seem unaware that the BLM Foundation and the global BLM movement are not affiliated with each other until the news agency contacted them. They have now withheld the group’s contributions and are now trying to transfer the funds to their intended recipients.
Meanwhile, a GoFundMe spokesperson said that the company is now working with Paypal to redirect funds. GoFundMe uses the PayPal Giving Fund database to enable people to donate, according to Business Insider.
The spokesperson said there are currently 180 campaigns that raise money for the Black Lives Matter Foundation. A total of $350,000 worth of donations have been accumulated, but is currently frozen while GoFundMe works with PayPal and the campaign organizers “to ensure all of the money raised is transferred to the Black Lives Matter movement via their fiscal sponsor.”
“We are diligently looking into the matter and working with the donors, our partners, campaign organizers, and charities involved to ensure that the funds are granted as quickly as possible,” a PayPal spokesperson told Business Insider.
Similarly, Benevity also withheld the $4 million that was reported in the BuzzFeed article per the company’s “standard vetting and disbursement process.”
“No funds will be going to the Black Lives Matter Foundation as they’ve been deactivated from our platform,” a Benevity spokesperson told Business Insider adding that it is working closely with their clients to redirect the funds to proper causes.
The BLM movement began as a hashtag #BlackLivesMatter after Trayvon Martin died in 2013. It became more widely known as Black Lives Matter in 2014 after Michael Brown’s death in the hands of law enforcement.
In contrast, the “Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation, Inc. was only registered as a Delaware corporation until 2017 with its non-profit arm called Thousand Currents. The California attorney general’s office sent a cease and desist order to BLM Foundation for failing to properly register and file annual financial reports.
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