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Wednesday, June 12, 2024

Online fundraiser for Orlando nears $7 million goal


An online crowdfunding campaign to raise money for the victims of the June 12 shooting at Pulse nightclub is nearing its $7 million goal.

Equality Florida, the state’s LGBTQ+ civil rights organization, created a GoFundMe page the day of the shooting in an effort to support the families and survivors in need. The total amount raised is about $6.4 million, as of press time.

One-hundred percent of the funds will go toward the Pulse shooting victims, according to Equality Florida.

Ida Eskamani, Equality Florida’s North and Central Florida development officer, said she began working on the GoFundMe page within hours after the shooting.

The goal of this campaign is to disburse funds in as little as eight weeks — a contrast to the typical fundraising campaign that takes six to eight months to properly disperse funds, she said. To ensure this happens, Equality Florida is working in partnership with the National Center for Victims of Crime to administer the distribution of funds.

GoFundMe is also working closely with Equality Florida by donating $100,000 and allowing other donations pages to be linked to the organization.

“We are so grateful to have chosen GoFundMe as our fundraising platform because it allows us to leverage the power of social media in the global community,” Eskamani said.

Initially, Eskamani said Equality Florida aimed at collecting $100,000 worth of donations. But it then adjusted that goal.

“We have over 115,000 donations from 120 countries,” Eskamani said. “The vast majority are small dollar gifts. It’s a powerful statement that shows the world is standing with Orlando.”

One donor, Shane Doyle, contributed after hearing of the Pulse Shooting. “When I first heard about the attack, I couldn’t believe it.” Doyle has many friends in the LGBTQ+ community and decided to help saying, “I’m not close enough to give blood — but I had to do something.”

After browsing for potential Pulse fundraising sites, he found Equality Florida. At first, he said he reserved caution about donating and decided to do some research before committing. He said he found that Equality Florida was a site that he could trust after seeing the report Guidestar, a database of nonprofits, released for Equality Florida.

The lives of the victims, families and survivors are forever changed, but one thing is certain — there are thousands of supporters standing beside them. Eskamani said of the fundraiser’s success, “We never expected for this to happen. We are amazed by the outpouring of love and support.”

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