Crowd Funding sites: Do you know where your money is going?
Crowd funding websites are exploding in popularity, but how do you know your money is going to a legit cause if you choose to donate?
The websites allow anyone to get online and ask people to fund their causes. GoFundMe.com has helped fund more than 350,000 campaigns around the world. In the Boise area, there are more than 200 active campaigns.
For the Impomeni family, the easiest questions are the hardest to answer.
"I can't tell you how many times people have asked 'why don't you have kids?,'" Sean Impomeni, a teacher and football coach at Caldwell High School said. "It's worse when people say 'you guys were made to be parents.'"
Sean and his wife Katie are both teachers. They have been trying to kids for five years, but haven't been able to. What's worse: they don't know why.
The couple said they spent their retirement savings on fertility tests and treatments. When they ran out, they had to put things on hold, but now they are ready to try again.
"I looked at her and I said, 'we'll do it, we'll figure out a way,'" Sean said.
With nothing left but hope, the Impomeni's started a campaign on GoFundMe.com after hearing about it from a friend.
The donations from friends, families and strangers started pouring in. Within a week, they had raised $5,000. Now, just one month in, they are just $5,000 short of their goal, which is $17,000.
"Once the money started coming in you're just sitting at the computer every five minutes checking and sobbing and just the fact that people care that much about you," Sean said.
Many people donate to causes based on an emotional response. But Dale Dixon with the Better Business Bureau says it is that emotional response that can get people into trouble, especially when they're donating online.
"Take your time," Dixon said. "Don't just give because it's really easy, give because its the right thing to do and you're doing it the logical way."
Dixon also says a credible site should be transparent about they way they handle your cash.
"They should make it abundantly clear where that money is going, how they're going to use it, and they should make it easy to make contact," Dixon said.
GoFundMe.com gets added credibility in this area, because in order to show up in their public directory, you have to link your campaign to your Facebook account. That means, you need to have a profile picture, and a good following of friends.
The site currently has an 'A' rating with the BBB. Regardless, if you do give online, Dixon recommends doing it anonymously. The organizers of the campaign will be able to see your name, but the internet won't. That way, scammers trolling those sites for information can't track you down.
"I would not want my name publicly out there that I am giving money because a scam artist can latch on to that real quickly," Dixon said.
Keep in mind, there are more than 8,800 Crowd Funding websites out there, and there are more popping up every day. Even GoFundMe.com recommends donating only to people that you know and trust.
"Once you give you have to be ready to let go and realize that you've made that decision, you've thoroughly researched and you're going to give the money but don't expect anything back," Dixon said.
But it's a decision like that, that the Impomeni's say could change their life.
"If it works out it will be awesome, and if it doesn't, it's still been life changing and humbling and amazing," Sean said. "We feel really blessed with all of the love and support from everybody."
If you do use GoFundMe.com to make donations and come across a page that you don't think is credible, the site says to send them the link to that page so they can look into it.
You can also choose to withdraw your donation from a campaign at any time.