The website tells you in its name to “GoFundMe” and according to the site’s annual report, released this week, Vermont has been listening.
The Year in Giving report found that Vermont was second only to Massachusetts in the number of donations per capita to various GoFundMe campaigns.
GoFundMe is a free online fundraising website where people post their story and their goal. For instance, some people explain a medical issue and what they need for treatment. Others might talk about a home destroyed by fire and what they expect to need to get back on their feet.
Heidi Hagberg, a spokeswoman for GoFundMe, said the Year in Giving is in its third year. She said the company has tried to add new features every year, but one of the most popular from 2018 was a list of which states, per capita, make the largest donations.
Vermont’s neighbors New Hampshire, Connecticut and New York are among the Top 10.
Hagberg said GoFundMe did not break down the donations to determine if, for instance, Vermonters tended to give more to international campaigns or whether the donations tended to be within New England.
However, the report found GoFundMe donors have made more than 120 million donations, raising more than $9 billion for campaigns since GoFundMe began in 2010.
A letter included with the report by GoFundMe CEO Rob Solomon said the website is “changing the way the world gives” and bringing in new donors who are getting involved in supporting others.
“We all want to be reminded of the good in humanity and inspired by uplifting news — not just during the holidays, but every day. Helping people and causes is what brings us to work every day, and we are grateful that we get to empower others to make a lasting difference,” Solomon said.
Hagberg said GoFundMe had become, during the past two years, a site “where people know they can take action whether it’s in their local community, with their friends and family or across the world.”
Stories in local newspapers or shared on social media are often the impetus for donors who then go to GoFundMe so they can offer financial assistance, Hagberg added.
This year’s report is the second that ranks the donations per capita, but Vermont has already moved up from fifth in 2018 to second this year.
Traci Moore, director of the Rutland Health Foundation at Rutland Regional Medical Center, said she has also found that Vermonters are generous for a good cause in Rutland County.
“My experience has been that if people understand the need and the cause they are very willing to do what they can to help. I think, always getting the most information out and being able to explain the benefit of donations, who is helped, what the impact is, what the end result will be, I have found, has produced very good fundraising support in our community. There’s a lot of generosity here,” she said.
For instance, RRMC launched an “Imagine a Healthy Heart” campaign about a year ago with a goal of raising $377,000 to bring a new nuclear medicine camera to the Rutland Heart Center.
“With the support of our community, we were able to raise a little more than $382,000 to support that cost,” Moore said.
The new camera is in place now at the Rutland hospital.
Sue Minter, executive director at Capstone Community Action, said she believed Vermonters were very connected with their neighbors and their community.
“I think Vermont is outstanding in that way,” she said.
Minter said she had also seen support come in to Capstone for its efforts to help needy Vermonters with such basic supports as food, housing and heat.
“Our biggest campaign is essentially called the ‘Fuel Your Neighbors’ campaign, and it is all about helping neighbors stay warm and not go hungry in the winter. We are continually impressed by the generosity of our community leaders, our neighbors and even folks who, philanthropy isn’t their work, but they’ve used Capstone services and want to give back to Capstone. It isn’t just for folks with means, it’s all kinds of people who give and are generous in their giving,” she said.
Moore said she attributed the generosity of Vermonters to being residents of a “tight-knit” state.
“We know our neighbors. We understand our challenges, and we really work together to address the needs in our local communities. Our experience here at Rutland Regional has really been one of the community coming together to make sure Rutland Regional Medical Center is in the very best condition to continue to deliver high quality programs and services,” she said.
Minter said she had also seen generosity in the time when she was working for the state and placed in charge of the recovery from Tropical Storm Irene.
“Boy, if ever there was a time to see the unbelievable generosity of spirit and, of course, funds, that was a great time to see that. It wasn’t just people giving money, it was people giving time, resources, blood, sweat and tears, for people in need. It didn’t matter who you were, your neighbors were there for you. I think that is why we say, ‘We’re Vermont strong.’ We are, I think, an exceptional state on that front,” she said.
The full Year in Giving report is posted at www.gofundme.com/2019.