Whether you’re looking to support a cause you’re passionate about or you just need some extra financial help, crowdfunding is a simple way to raise money online quickly. Millions of people have turned to online fundraising to help themselves and others, and it’s becoming increasingly common. If you’re still wondering, “Is crowdfunding safe?” this article explains the five ways your information and funds are kept safe when donating or fundraising online.

Five ways crowdfunding companies are keeping you safe 

When deciding if crowdfunding is right for you, remember it has been used to rebuild homes after disasters, raise funds for expensive life-changing surgeries, and even send kids to schools they otherwise couldn’t afford. With so much at stake, it’s important to choose the platform that’s dedicated to helping you accomplish these goals, while keeping you and your supporters safe in the meantime. Below, we’ll go over the safety standards and practices that crowdfunding companies have put in place.

1. SSL technology

SSL stands for Secure Sockets Layer. SSL is a security technology that is enabled when an encrypted link is established between a web server and a browser. In other words, by establishing an SSL connection, the crowdfunding platform can ensure that the transmission of a consumer’s personal data is encrypted and private. 

How do you know if you’re protected with SSL?

If you’re donating to an online fundraiser and giving your private information, like a credit card number, be sure to look for the small lock icon in the upper right corner of the web address. This lock icon means that you are protected by an SSL connection. 

2. PCI Compliance reduces the risks of crowdfunding 

The online marketplace has drastically changed the way credit and debit cards are handled. A significant amount of  our shopping is now done online, and the need for cutting-edge online credit card safety measures has increased.

PCI compliance is a set of security standards designed to ensure that all companies that accept, store, process, or transmit credit card information maintain a highly secure environment. There are different levels of certification, with the best being Level 1.

In order to achieve PCI compliance Level 1, a third-party audit must be scheduled. Only after an independent auditor signs off on the safety and security of the site can the site state it has a Level 1 PCI compliance. 

3. Trust and safety departments 

Trust and safety departments are the crowdfunding community’s protectors and are there to ensure the crowdfunding platform is safe for everyone. These teams are responsible for inventing and advancing technologies to keep people safe, as well as preventing any possible crowdfunding scams and fraud. It’s important to always use a crowdfunding website that has a devoted trust and safety team. 

What security tools do trust and safety teams use? 

Trust and safety teams have to rely on a variety of highly specialized skills to keep a website safe. Their responsibilities include working with local law enforcement, contacting the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), handling small financial disagreements, and more.

Some crowdfunding sites also have verification guidelines in place to help organizers set up their fundraisers for success, and it helps the public feel comfortable donating to a fundraiser.

4. A guaranteed refund in rare cases of misuse

Offering a refund on your donation is another way for a crowdfunding platform to show their community that they go the extra mile. A reliable platform will provide donors and organizers the tools and information needed to have a safe crowdfunding experience. 

When looking to donate or fundraise, seek a crowdfunding site that actively protects against any type of fraud. A policy like this means that if you donate to a fundraiser and your contribution is misused, you can be guaranteed a refund. 

While most campaigns are accurate and funds are used for their intended purposes, it’s important to know you’re protected in the rare case of any misuse.

5. Beneficiary safety 

A beneficiary is anyone that you are raising donations for—a friend, neighbor, coworker, stranger, or close family member. In short, a beneficiary is the person who benefits from your fundraiser.

If you are raising funds for someone else, then having the beneficiary directly connected to the fundraiser is a way to avoid any liability for the funds. One of the most common concerns with crowdfunding is that the funds may be sent to the wrong place or end up in the wrong hands. 

This is why it’s important to use a crowdfunding platform that offers a beneficiary system where you can send the beneficiary a direct invitation to receive the funds. Doing this will make supporters feel more comfortable because they’ll know exactly where their donations are going. 

Look for a platform that displays your beneficiary’s name on the fundraiser so supporters can see it. Having the option to directly add a beneficiary provides an extra level of transparency and safety that donors and campaign organizers seek out. 

Crowdfunding is safe and it changes lives 

Through GoFundMe, millions of people have the ability to make a lasting change in their own lives, or in their communities and beyond. As a PCI Level 1 compliant platform, GoFundMe ensures your funds are always safe, no matter what. Our dedicated trust and safety team, beneficiary safety tools, and GoFundMe Guarantee ensure that your donations, supporters, and beneficiary are all in good hands. Sign up today and begin making a difference.