Ingersoll, Ont. legion hoping donors reach out directly after GoFundMe campaign cancelled
INGERSOLL, ONT. -- The cash-strapped Royal Canadian Legion in Ingersoll is facing a financial hurdle once again after the American for-profit crowd-funding platform GoFundMe abruptly cancelled the legion’s campaign, and sent the funds raised back to donors.
It came as a major blow to Branch 119 President Rob Mabee, who helped get the campaign off the ground in late April when the branch realized it was taking a major financial hit from the COVID-19 shutdown.
“I was shocked, I was upset, like you’ve lost $5,900 and don’t know where it went.”
Here’s what happened, according to 1st Vice President Mike Kelly; they knew they had raised close to $6,000 from community donations, but when it was time to make a withdrawal, GoFundMe required the legion to provide its non-profit status number for verification.
That’s when things went south, said Kelly, “Canadian legions are non-profit. They individually support themselves, and they don’t need a number.”
He said, unfortunately, the American company didn’t recognize the distinction.
“My brother called me one day, and he donated money to the legion, and he asked me why doesn’t the legion like his money. And I said it’s not that we don’t like your money, GoFundMe had some technical issues. We don’t really know what happened. They emailed everybody and sent all the money back.”
Some would-be donors who got their money back from GoFundMe have now turned around and given that money directly to the legion, with no middleman.
So far they’ve recouped about $1,000 of the $5,900 that was raked back. Mabee said they’re hoping more supporters will do the same, but more importantly, he said they’re hoping people realize the legion wasn’t trying to “scam” anyone.
“I’ve had a couple people ask if it’s been a scam or anything, and we tell them no it’s no scam, it just got messed up with GoFundMe down in the States, but everybody is getting their money back.”
Meantime, while the legion would be allowed to reopen as of Friday with Stage 3 of the provincial reopening, Mabee said they don’t have the financial resources to do so, and will likely wait until September before welcoming back the 140 or so members of the branch.