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It is natural and healthy to have a layer of skepticism regarding charitable giving to strangers online. There is no need to feel guilty or ashamed about it. It’s smart! And, in fact, #AdoptOrlando urges you to always exercise your own best judgement and caution when donating money online. #AdoptOrlando cannot guarantee the veracity of any campaign presented here, nor can it endorse any individual, business, or organization presented here.

What #AdoptOrlando HAS done is provide a baseline of vetting to reduce the probability of disingenuous behavior and increase your confidence as a potential donor or signal booster for all of the direct donation campaigns in the database on pages labeled Victims, Survivors, and Others Affected.

Online/academic research standards were followed during all verification activities. The verification history of any campaign is available prior to donating or endorsing by emailing #AdoptOrlando (so you can have confidence without having to re-do the work itself).

Verification is attempted first via double-pass public identification, without contacting a campaign runner or beneficiary in order to avoid adding stress to already overwhelmed individuals and families with inquiries that will imply their veracity is in question.

  • If a campaign passes Level 1 verification, then Level 2 verification is attempted. If Level 2 verification is achieved, a campaign is considered vetted and added to the database.
    • Level 1 verification standard: “Is there any public mention of this person existing in connection with the beneficiary/or as self-described?” Example: a news article or video.
    • Level 2 verification standard: “Is there any personal mention of this person existing in connection with the beneficiary/or as self-described?” Example: Facebook, Instagram, a personal blog.
  • If a campaign fails Level 1 verification but passes Level 2, or vice versa, then respectful contact with the campaign runner will be attempted.
    • A request for clarification regarding their connection with the beneficiary and plan for fund distribution is made.
    • Receipt of sufficient clarification alongside Level 1 or Level 2 verification makes this a vetted campaign.
    • Campaign runner clarification alone is not sufficient to vet a campaign.
    • Self-run campaigns receive the same two-stage vetting.
  • When campaign runners fail to respond, #AdoptOrlando continues to presume positive intent and initiates respectful contact with beneficiaries or beneficiary representatives.
    • Beneficiary verification is definitive.
    • If a campaign can’t meet these vetting standards, in keeping with our presumption of positive intent, it is simply not added to our public database.
  • When unable to verify campaigns, #AdoptOrlando’s stance has been to presume positive intent EXCEPT in the case of significant evidence of fraudulent activity.
    • Examples: campaign runner has no web presence/stock photo profile, campaign requests off-site donations, campaign significantly misrepresents beneficiary information, or campaign exhibits otherwise significantly disingenuous activities recognized as standard to online business fraud.
    • In keeping with #AdoptOrlando’s presumption of positive intent, our decision has been to report potentially suspicious campaigns ONLY to authoritative sites for review and NOT directly to law enforcement.
    • At the time of this writing (July 2016), having reviewed more than 200 Pulse-related fundraising campaigns, #AdoptOrlando has made only 1 such report. 
  • Campaigns on the Organization tab of the database are not juried for merit or endorsed by #AdoptOrlando. They are simply listed if providing a service directly to the community or collecting to redress fines or legal fees on behalf of community members who have served/are providing service to the community.
    • There is not currently a standard for vetting this type of campaign.
    • Potential donors to campaigns listed on the Organization tab are therefore urged to conduct their own thorough research.
    • Always feel free to contact us for support as a potential donor! We will do our best to assist you in locating a trusted local resource for information on how to safely donate to a cause you are interested in.
  • #AdoptOrlando does not encourage donating or signal-boosting to direct donation campaigns online for individuals or organizations stating they are collecting with intent to donate to the One Orlando/Equality Florida Funds or any local Orlando community organization. Such campaigns will not be included in our database.
    • It is the opinion of #AdoptOrlando that direct dontations to the organization or fund itself is both safer and more effective.
    • While individuals and organizations may be well-meaning in their attempt to raise awareness, the fees involved in transferring money with sites such as GoFundMe and WePay dilute donations substantially.
    • If you are interested in supporting an organization or fund and do not see it listed in our database, feel free to contact us and we will do our best to point you toward a local resource for information on how to safely donate.

Furthermore, many campaigns are presented through GoFundMe.

GoFundMe has  vetting policies of their own; in fact, they will not release funds to individuals without verification, and swiftly removed several accounts that could not be verified in the wake of the Pulse massacre. Of course, prior to a campaign becoming active:

“We have a dedicated team of people who look at every single GoFundMe campaign before they become public to make sure they’re in accordance with our Terms & Conditions,” says GoFundMe PRM Kelsey Little.

You can read more about GoFundMe’s particular policies in this article from the Washington Post; but please keep in mind it is significantly biased (it not only implies a connection between the excellent reputation of GoFundMe and the ridiculous Twitter “water and Oreos” scam that only managed to suck less than $30 in BITCOINS from the well-intentioned gullible, it also refers to Pam Biondi as a trustworthy source of information regarding our community in spite of her well-known disinterest and betrayal of the LGBTQ community).