George Floyd died tragically during an arrest by Minneapolis Police officers on May 25, 2020. Mr. Floyd’s highly publicized death ignited demonstrations and protests across the United States and Canada against police brutality and in support of anti-racism. Many individuals are also showing their support to this cause with donations to community groups, non-profit organizations, and other fundraising campaigns with a related mission or purpose.
One of the more successful fundraising campaigns has been the George Floyd Memorial Fund established by Mr. Floyd’s brother, Philonise Floyd, on GoFundMe, an online crowdfunding platform. This campaign has raised just over $14 million to date, far surpassing its original target of $1.5 million. The overwhelming success of this GoFundMe campaign invites the question – what happens if more funds are donated to a fundraising campaign than originally requested?
Crowdfunding campaigns are often created in order to raise money for a specific purpose or project. If more money is raised than is needed to fulfill the campaign’s intended purpose, then there will be surplus funds. A common example is a GoFundMe campaign created to defray funeral expenses and the campaign ends up raising funds over and above the actual costs incurred for the funeral. What is the campaign promoter entitled, or perhaps required, to do with the leftover funds?
In general, if money is donated for a specific purpose and not all of the funds raised can be applied to that specific purpose, the surplus funds may be returned to the donors via a resulting trust. Returning donated monies can be burdensome where there have been a significant number of donors and/or anonymous donors who cannot be easily identified. To help avoid this situation, a campaign promoter can include alternative purposes for which funds can be used. These additional purposes must be set out at the time the funds are solicited.
In the case of the George Floyd Memorial Fund, the GoFundMe page states:
“This fund is established to cover funeral and burial expenses, mental and grief counseling, lodging and travel for all court proceedings, and to assist our family in the days to come as we continue to seek justice for George. A portion of these funds will also go to the Estate of George Floyd for the benefit and care of his children and their educational fund.”
The above description includes multiple purposes for the collected funds. Some of these purposes likely have been or will be fulfilled, such as the payment of funeral expenses. However, other purposes are seemingly unbounded, such as supporting the care and education of Mr. Floyd’s children. Thus, although the George Floyd Memorial Fund garnered millions of dollars in excess of its original goal, it is likely that all of these funds can properly be applied to the campaign’s defined purposes. If this is the case, then no portion of the collected funds will be considered to be surplus and all of the money should remain available for the benefit of the Floyd family.
Thanks for reading!
I know the blogs on this site are generally about estates-related issues, but for today’s blog I thought I’d talk about something a little different. On Sunday, April 29, many of the lawyers at this firm attended Fanconi Night in Canada, a dinner and silent auction held to raise money for Fanconi Canada, an organization committed to funding research and hopefully finding a cure for Fanconi’s Anemia.
For those of you not familiar with the disease, Fanconi’s Anemia (FA) is a common form of genetic anemia, which often leads to progressive, severe bone marrow failure. Besides the physical problems the disease causes, people who suffer it are also at an increased risk of developing leukemia and other cancers.
While the disease is equally prevalent in males and females and is found in all ethnic groups, it generally first appears in children and often occurs in the form of birth defects. Some of the more common of these include low birth weight and failure to thrive, kidney problems, developmental delays, and heart defects. The average life expectancy of someone with the disease is 22 years and many children who develop the disease do not survive to adulthood.
While research has lead to great strides being made in identifying the genes related to the disease and identifying potential treatments, there is still no cure. Hopefully fundraisers like the one we attended will help raise the funds the organization needs to continue the important work it is doing.
Have a great day!