GYMPIE residents have donated more than $263,400 to 113 local Go Fund Me campaigns since the site started operating seven years ago.
Go Fund Me takes 6.75% from each donation, meaning the organisation has collected at least $17,700 from Gympie campaigns since 2010.
ARM Newsdesk research reveals that Gympie-based appeals for cash cover everything from funerals to cancer patient support, sick kids and injured pets.
The region's most successful campaign is Gitti Harriman's Brain Tumour Fund in which 331 people gave $36,680 to help a young mother as she battles a serious illness.
The goal for this fundraiser is $30,000.
Other successful campaigns included Roz Harper's Brain Cancer Fund in which 194 people have contributed $33,585 of a requested $60,000 to help a mum as she goes through cancer treatments.
In Memory of Mavi Jones raised $22,000 of a $35,000 goal following the death of two-year-old Maverick Jones.
Helping Mark has raised $21,500 for Mark Revere who was seriously injured in a motorbike accident and Kev & Lorna's Home collected $15,000 for a family who lost everything in a house fire.
Only eight of the region's Go Fund Me pages have raised more than $10,000, 26 pages raised up to $10,000 and 19 raised $5 to $1000.
The remaining 59 Gympie Go Fund Me pages have no donations.
Consumer group Choice says potential donors should do a bit of research before shelling out their cash when they see a plea for help, just in case it was a scam.
"As a consumer, if you're planning on putting your money into a project you do need to do your homework," Choice spokesman Tom Godfrey said.
"The onus is very much on you because there are very few legal or other requirements on the person actually asking for the money."
Mr Godfrey also suggested donors and site creators make sure they were across the fees charged by crowdfunding sites.
Danielle Logue is one of Australia's leading experts on crowdfunding.
Dr Logue said Go Fund Me-type fundraising campaigns were popular because they allowed generous Gympie residents to "connect" with causes on a personal level as opposed to being "mugged" by street collectors.
"The whole model of giving is shifting," said the University of Technology Sydney management discipline group senior lecturer.
"Ease is one of the reasons why they're successful.
"People are becoming more familiar with, and trusting of, donating online.
"Campaigns are set up to provide you with that individual connection and to provide ongoing feedback of how the cause is going.
"What we call chugging - that is the mugging for charity form of fundraising strategy - turns a lot of people off, unlike these campaigns."
Turning a charitable idea into a fundraising success
DURING the Second World War, a young chap called Ernie Palmer skippered a warship around the Solomon Islands on reconnaissance missions.
Some 70-odd years later, Ernie's son Ambrose is determined to breathe new life into his dad's old ship - now called the MV Rushcutter - after it sank in Darwin harbour last October.
Of course, fixing his father's pride and joy is not going to come cheap so Mr Ambrose has started a Go Fund Me page - Save 1321 - Our Military Heritage - to raise $50,000 that would help to cover dry dock fees and start restoration.
Ship-loving donors have contributed $3240 towards the project since the Go Fund Me page went live about four months ago.
Mr Ambrose said he hoped that once the ship was restored that it would become a memorial for the "people who served on her".
He said the initial $50,000 would pay for the ship to move to a permanent dry dock where he and his friends and family could work on rebuilding it.
"The $50,000 would also pay for removing the engines, the ballast and getting a crane in again to move her to a site offered to us by a marine engineering group," he said.
"We'd restore her to a World War Two configuration so she would look like she did during the war - this could cost us $500,000."
Mr Ambrose said raising the money was a tough gig but he found regular updates on the Go Fund Me page helped keep the cash flowing.
"I chose the Go Fund Me platform because it seemed to be one of the cheapest and they were up front about their costs," he said.
"We put all the information about the ship on the site.
"Doing the updates was very important and also interviews with the media meant more people were coming to the page making a good batch of small donations."
Mr Ambrose said it was unlikely all the restoration money would come from Go Fund Me donors so he had registered the project as a not-for-profit organisation and he was applying for grants as well.
To donate to the Save 1321 - Our Military Heritage visit www.gofundme.com/save-1321-2v9uwys?ssid=862227588&pos=2
What the tax office says about money-making campaigns
GYMPIE residents raising money through Go Fund Me have no need to worry about tax implications unless they provide a product or service in return for donations.
Certified Practising Accountants Australia tax policy head Paul Drum explained money donated to personal causes, such as helping a family member in crisis, would be seen as a gift by the Australian Tax Office.
Mr Drum said this meant the money did not need to be declared when completing tax returns.
He said there was a downside though as contributors could not declare their donation in their tax returns unless the organisation receiving the cash was a deductible gift recipient.
Mr Drum said entrepreneurs seeking donations in return for a share in a proposed business or an actual product did face tax implications.
"If for example you said 'I've invented a new motorcycle helmet and if you give us money to get this to market we guarantee you'll be one of the first people in the world to get this new helmet', then you're selling a helmet in a way. So there are income tax implications because this is business oriented."
The Federal Government was forced back to the drawing board when 12 months ago when its Corporations Amendment (Crowd-Sourced Funding) Bill failed to make it through Parliament, with Labor claiming it failed to address stakeholder concerns.
Cashing in on a crowd - who's who in the online charity world
THERE are a number of internet-based crowdfunding sites operating in Australia.
Go Fund Me is the site most individuals turn to raise money for causes that impact them directly - such as helping a sick mate or collecting money to send a child to a sporting event.
The site describes itself as "the world's largest social fundraising platform" and claims to have collected more than $3 billion from more than 25 million donors.
Chuffed.org and Start Some Good target people and organisations wanting to raise money for community-based social enterprises such as housing for the homeless.
Pozible.com, Kickstarter.com and IndieGoGo.com are popular with budding entrepreneurs who want the community to fund projects such as music albums or business start-ups.
These three sites also provide a platform for individuals to raise money for personal projects such as helping mates or family through tough times.
All of the crowdfunding sites charge fees.
Go Fund Me, for example, takes a total of 6.75% from the donation pool before it is released to the page creator.
Pozible collects 3-5%, depending on the amount raised. It also charges 2.4-3.4% plus 30c for each credit card or PayPal transaction; and it has a bitcoin charge as well.
Kickstarter keeps 5% of all funds raised plus it collects 3% and 20 cents for each credit card transaction.
StartSomeGood.com takes 8% from donations and IndieGoGo collects 7-12%, including credit card charges.
Unlike the other crowdfunding sites, Chuffed.org campaigners do not pay any fees, instead donors pay 2-2.9% plus a 30c payment processing fee when they contribute to a cause.
- ARM NEWSDESK
TOP 10 GYMPIE GO FUND ME CAMPAIGNS
CAMPAIGN, RAISED, DONORS
Gitti Harriman's Brain Tumour Fund, $36,680, 331
Roz Harper's Brain Cancer Fund, $33,585, 194
In Memory of Mavi Jones, $22,600, 246
Helping Mark, $21,589, 172
Kev & Lorna's Home, $15,145, 110
Stage 4 Terminal Bowel Cancer, $14,415, 151
Jess Fabs & Finn's Family fund, $11,622, 109
Laos Birthwork, $11,378, 141
Help lay Cal to rest in paradise, $8267, 121
Rideforrubyandjameela, $7074, 73
Source: Go Fund Me