Ottawa convoy passes collection plate
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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 08/02/2022 (483 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
A Christian crowdfunding site that began so Americans could support missionaries has become a prominent source for right-wing fundraising efforts — including the truckers convoy in Ottawa.
GiveSendGo, which calls itself the “No. 1 free Christian crowdfunding site,” has received more than $4.5 million in donations for the convoy after GoFundMe froze donations to the truckers, saying they had violated the website’s terms of service.
On the site’s home page, two out of three top trending fundraisers are for the convoy. The other is for the legal defence of former Trump lawyer John Eastman, who wrote the infamous memo about how Trump could retain power after losing the election.
There are dozens of individual fundraising pages for the convoy, with the largest being Freedom Convoy, which has raised more than $4.9 million and Adopt a Trucker, with $462,899.
In just 15 minutes between the time the donations totals were checked, the Freedom Convoy received an additional $67,628 and $2,490 was donated to Adopt a Trucker.
The site was started in 2014 by conservative Christian siblings Heather, Emmalie and Jacob Wells so Christians in the U.S. could share resources to “demonstrate the hope we have in Jesus with the world.”
Another reason, the founders claim, is because of how GoFundMe “has taken a stance against Christians and has been taking down campaigns that they did not agree with.”
“Thankfully, these truckers finally found GiveSendGo where they can safely raise money without fear of censorship or loss of control over their funds,” they say.
A sampling of donations shows most are between $25 to $100.
Donors have made comments such as “Praying you all stay safe and Canada becomes free again,” “Stand firm, we are all behind you! With God all things are possible!” “Stand up to the despots” and “We are all with you and praying for you in the USA!!”
In a statement Monday, GiveSendGo said it had been assured by convoy organizers the money raised would be for “humanitarian aid and legal support for the peaceful truckers and their families that stand for freedom.”
The website didn’t respond to a request for comment by the Free Press.
Unlike other crowdfunders that take a portion of donations to cover costs, GiveSendGo doesn’t charge anything to raise money through the site. Its overhead is paid for by donations.
It also doesn’t discriminate about which groups or individuals use the site, having hosted fundraisers for the Proud Boys, a white supremacist group, and people who are trying to overturn the 2020 U.S. presidential election.
In April 2021, a reporter from The Nation asked if GiveSendGo would host a fundraiser for the Ku Klux Klan. Founders Heather Wilson and Jacob Wells didn’t reject the idea.
“Some of these campaigns are situational,” Wells said, adding “If the KKK or any other group of people, if what they’re doing is within the law, I would consider it an honour to have them use the platform and share the hope of Jesus with them.”
Wells expressed doubt the Proud Boys are a hate group, explaining he had visited their website and found it lacked in statements that explicitly embraced discrimination.
One exception to its non-discrimination policy is abortion; GiveSendGo does not allow fundraisers for clinics that provide them. “That would be an intentional act for harm,” Wells told The Nation.
“GiveSendGo has always received a lot of hate having to do with letting certain people use our platform,” it says on its website, adding they read “all the negative comments about what the mainstream media has made us out to be.”
“Our platform is a place for all people to raise money as long as the cause is not illegal, whether we agree with the campaign or not. Is there a better way to assure people have freedom?”
It goes on to say that “No matter what you believe, who you are, or what you’ve done, our platform will be open and readily available for you to use.”
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John Longhurst has been writing for Winnipeg's faith pages since 2003. He also writes for Religion News Service in the U.S., and blogs about the media, marketing and communications at Making the News.
The Free Press acknowledges the financial support it receives from members of the city’s faith community, which makes our coverage of religion possible.