Whereas typical fundraising campaigns by registered charities or organizations have the benefit of professional advice and experience, informal public appeals are generally spontaneous. They are often launched with little planning, and without advice about the complexities of charity law. The advent of online crowdfunding platforms such as GoFundMe and Fundrazr has further complicated the matter. Creating an informal public appeal through crowdfunding is quick, easy, and often has a strong emotional component that can garner substantial media attention. The results of these appeals for donation have the potential to far exceed expectations. Legal complications can arise, especially if the appeal raises more money than needed or if the money raised cannot be used as intended. Organizers often have little guidance about how to distribute or return surplus or unusable funds.
ALRI will be conducting research and consultation on informal public appeals, with the goal of recommending legislation that will clarify the rights and responsibilities of organizers, donors, and beneficiaries.