Cashing in on crowdfunding, the new way to fundraise

Cashing in on crowdfunding, the new way to fundraise

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Crowdfunding has grown in popularity, especially with the help of social media. Crowdfunding has grown in popularity, especially with the help of social media.
"It's been really hard, we're putting his life out there to read and that is hard because we are private people," explained Jamie Lemons, Vic's wife. "We've just come to the point where we've put our pride aside." "It's been really hard, we're putting his life out there to read and that is hard because we are private people," explained Jamie Lemons, Vic's wife. "We've just come to the point where we've put our pride aside."
For the Feral Feline Friends of East Tennessee, they turned to GoFundMe after a certain kitten was going to need more help than their budget would allow. For the Feral Feline Friends of East Tennessee, they turned to GoFundMe after a certain kitten was going to need more help than their budget would allow.
"It's so important to do a little bit of work to find out of it the money is going to the cause," explained Jerry Tipton with the BBB. "It's so important to do a little bit of work to find out of it the money is going to the cause," explained Jerry Tipton with the BBB.

By ALEXIS ZOTOS
6 News Reporter

KNOXVILLE (WATE) – For the Lemons family, cancer didn't fit into the life they had planned.

"When you're 37, you don't expect that to come down the pike," explained Vic Lemons, 40.

Two years ago, Vic Lemons was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and it soon became a struggle to make ends meet.

"We were in a really bad position, it was food or medicine, we couldn't pay certain bills. We had to ask people for money," he explained.

That's when his wife Jamie looked into online crowdfunding and they turned to GoFundMe.com.

With a picture of their family and a bio about Vic's battle, the Lemons turned to friends and strangers, saying "Please, anything you can do is greatly appreciated."

Crowdfunding has grown in popularity, especially with the help of social media. Almost every week here at 6 News we receive requests to feature someone using GoFundMe or KickStarter to raise money for everything from medical conditions to adoptions. But it raised the question, how do you know if the money is going to a real cause?

"It's been really hard, we're putting his life out there to read and that is hard because we are private people," explained Jamie Lemons, Vic's wife. "We've just come to the point where we've put our pride aside."

For the Feral Feline Friends of East Tennessee, they turned to GoFundMe after a certain kitten was going to need more help than their budget would allow.

"We've seen some really, really sick cats and some of them have expensive care and this was beyond even that," explained Kara Disbrow, a volunteer with the organization.

They created a page for Sir Charles, a six month old kitten with eye lid agenesis. His surgery will come with a price tag of $2,500.

"It was definitely something not in the budget," said Disbrow.

In less than 48 hours of posting the GoFundMe page. they raised almost half of the funds. All online.

"I was just shocked, thrilled and shocked, and I thought little buddy we're going to be able to help you," said Disbrow.

But while cancer and kittens tug at the heartstrings of donors, they can also line the pockets of scammers. We went to the Better Business Bureau to find out how to protect yourself and your money.

"It's so important to do a little bit of work to find out of it the money is going to the cause," explained Jerry Tipton with the BBB.

Tipton says crowdfunding is the latest place for scammers to take advantage, with nearly 9,000 crowdfunding sites.

"Anyone can get on the internet, anyone can open a Facebook page, they can ask anything they want," Tipton said.

Crowdfunding sites take a percentage, anywhere between four to 20 percent. But to ensure you don't get taken for much more, do a little research. Google the organization or better yet reach out to them personally.

"We're set up at PetSmart, you come see the cats, they're real cats," said Disbrow.

But online there's no real way to know if a site is legitimate or if the person is going to use the money for what they say they will.

"There's really is no good way of weeding out the bad. Greed is endemic in our society," warned Tipton.

But for the Lemons they choose to instead focus on the incredible generosity they've witnessed.

"Out of the blue, here's $20, here's $100, here's $1,000. It just literally makes you want to cry the generosity of people," said Lemons.

Their story has been shared across the internet, helping raise more than $8,000 to help Vic and his family figure out of the next piece of the puzzle in his battle against cancer.

"They're sacrificing from their family to help my family," said Vic. "And we're so grateful."

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