Kickstarter just crowdsourced $1 million for Syrian refugees

It’s a start.
It’s a start.
Image: Reuters/Khalil Ashawi
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Kickstarter has a specific rule barring people from fundraising for charity, but the crowd-funding site broke it this week to help Syrian refugees.

The world’s largest funding platform has teamed up with the White House to help refugees in a growing humanitarian crisis. The campaign “Aid Refugees” has already raised $1 million in just over a day.

“Kickstarter is known for being a funding platform for creative projects, whether it’s a film, album or book,” Justin Kazmark, Kickstarter’s spokesman, told Quartz. “This is the first time we’re allowing a project that’s not within the creative realm.”

There have been 93,000 successfully funded projects on Kickstarter in the last six and a half years, but only 125 have raised more than a million dollars, according to Kazmark.

Two weeks ago, the White House asked a number of private companies, including Kickstarter, Instacart, Twitter, Airbnb, and Starbucks, to take action and come up with creative solutions to address the refugee crisis. “We’ve seen what the Kickstarter community can accomplish over the last six and a half years and we felt compelled to act,” Kazmark explains.

The campaign, which launched on Tuesday (October 6), will donate the money raised to The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR). Even though donations are rolling in, the amount raised so far will make only a small dent. The agency currently faces a severe funding crisis, which has already affected millions of Syrian refugees. The $3.47 billion funding gap has resulted in the reduction of food assistance for 6 million refugees, the agency reported in June, while 750,000 children were not able to attend school. Thousands of refugees per day have arrived on Europe’s shores in recent months.

Kickstarter is known for being an all-or-nothing platform, where users need to reach a funding goal within a specific timeline or they forfeit their pledges, but that won’t be the case for this campaign. And unlike previous projects, there are no prizes or rewards for contributing to this campaign, other than the satisfaction of having helped with the unfolding refugee crisis.