GoFundMe froze $350,000 in contributions after Black Lives Matter supporters mistakenly donated to an unaffiliated group with the same name
Black Lives Matter murals have been painted by activists in several U.S. cities over the past few days.
Tayfun Coskun / Anadolu Agency via Getty Images
GoFundMe has frozen $ 350,000 in donations to a group called the Black Lives Matter Foundation after BuzzFeed News said the group was not affiliated with the Black Lives Matter movement.
The founder of the foundation told BuzzFeed News that the group had a mission other than the anti-white dominance movement: "Unity with the Police".
Employees from companies like Apple, Google, Microsoft and Dropbox raised over $ 4 million for the group through the Benevity charity platform, which told Business Insider that funds were not being distributed to the group.
GoFundMe and Benevity told Business Insiders that they are working with donors and campaign organizers to get the funds to where they want to go.
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Donors who want to support the global Black Lives Matter movement raised an estimated $ 4.35 million in June for an organization called the Black Lives Matter Foundation. However, most of these funds are pending after BuzzFeed News has determined that the foundation is not associated with the movement.
The Black Lives Matter Foundation is based in Santa Clarita, California, and was founded in 2015, BuzzFeed News reported. Robert Ray Barnes, the founder and paid employee of the foundation, told the sales outlet that the two groups had nothing to do with each other and had very different tasks.
"Our whole thing is uniting with the police," Barnes BuzzFeed News said in a report on Monday.
Despite differing approaches to ending racial injustice and police brutality, their similar names, according to BuzzFeed News, led to many donors and supporters giving Barnes' organization, wrongly assuming that it was associated with the global movement.
After George Floyd's murder after an arrest in Minneapolis resulted in donations going to racial justice organizations, people organized campaigns on charity sites like GoFundMe and employers offered to bring donations together on platforms like Benevity, and both ran the Black Lives Matter Foundation as Recipient on possibility.
According to BuzzFeed News, employees from Apple, Google, Microsoft and Dropbox used their company's benefit matching programs through Benevity to raise over $ 4 million for the Black Lives Matter Foundation (while both Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella and Dropbox -CEO Drew Houston listed the organization as an eligible organization in letters to employees).
BuzzFeed News reported that several platforms, including GoFundMe, apparently did not know that the Black Lives Matter Foundation and the global Black Lives Matter movement were not connected until they contacted them. Now they have stopped donating to the group and are trying to raise funds for the intended recipients.
A GoFundMe representative informed Business Insider that the company used the PayPal Giving Fund database to facilitate charitable donations and that it was working with PayPal to redirect funds.
The representative said, "180 campaigns recently raised money for the Black Lives Matter Foundation and raised $ 350,000." Next: "GoFundMe has put all funds on hold and we are working with PayPal and the campaign organizers to ensure that all the money raised is channeled to the Black Lives Matter movement through their financial sponsor."
"A number of donors recently supported the PayPal Giving Fund to support the Black Lives Matter movement by donating through one of our platform partners," a PayPal representative told Business Insider. "We are carefully reviewing the matter and are working with donors, our partners, campaign organizers, and participating charities to ensure that funds are granted as soon as possible."
A Benevity representative told Business Insider that the company had deactivated the BLM Foundation's profile the day before contacting BuzzFeed News and found that the $ 4 million "was not in accordance with our standard review and payout process to the Black Lives Matter Foundation were distributed ".
"No funds will go to the Black Lives Matter Foundation because they have been disabled by our platform," added the person. "Benevity works closely with our customers to redirect funds for other social justice purposes."
The Black Lives Matter movement, which has garnered worldwide attention in the past few weeks, started as a hashtag (#BlackLivesMatter) after the fatal shooting of Trayvon Martin in 2013 and became known as the simple Black Lives Matter in 2014 after a policeman Michael Brown was fatal had shot in Ferguson, Missouri.
The movement's official organization, the Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation, Inc., was only registered as a Delaware corporation in 2017, and its charitable donation arm is called Thousand Currents.
Barnes defended the name of his organization and even claimed that the global movement "stole" his name and idea, according to BuzzFeed News, although it was widely recognized prior to its inception.
A representative of the Black Lives Matter movement told BuzzFeed News that the Santa Clarita group "is misusing our name" and that the movement is "planning to call on and follow up".
Barnes did not disclose how much his foundation had raised in total, but said he planned to use the funds for community and police bonding events, according to BuzzFeed News. However, as noted in the publication, the Californian attorney general sent the foundation an injunction in December, accusing her of failing to properly register with the law firm and submitting annual financial reports, and prohibiting disbursement of funds without permission.
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