The internet isn’t all bad. It gave over $47 million to people in need in 2016

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REUTERS/Stringer

2016 was an emotionally rough year for many people, with the divisive US presidential election and a slew of horrific events – ranging from terrorist attacks and mass shootings to floods – taking their toll.

If the year has left you questioning the nature of humanity and annoyed at the negative part that the internet played, from fake news, to harassment and trolling, here’s some news that will cheer you up.

The internet also has a kinder, generous side. And it was in full display via fund raising site GoFundMe which just released its annual 2016 report.

In 2016, GoFundMe hit a number of milestones. For instance, the number of people who chipped in to one of its fund-raising campaigns tripled over the number that participated in 2015. Since GoFundMe’s start six years ago, more than 2 million people have launched campaigns to raise money for everything from medical emergencies to charities, and 25 million people have donated money to the causes.

The top 12 news events and natural disasters generated various campaigns that raised nearly $47 million in 2016. And the top 16 individual campaigns raised over $14 million.

These top 16 included the largest ever GoFundMe campaign since the site launched. It also included the largest ever GoFundMe in the UK and two campaigns started by celebrities (HBO’s Issa Rae, and country star Brad Paisley).

Here are some of the highlights that show the power of online fundraising:


22% of American adults, or nearly 1 in 5, have donated to an online fundraising project on a site like Kickstarter or GoFundMe, and 3% of Americans have created their own fundraising project on one of these sites, according to Pew Research.

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REUTERS/Stringer

Source: Pew Research, “The New Digital Economy.”


In 2016 more Americans donated to an online fundraising campaign (22%) than used a ride-sharing app (15%) or a home-sharing app (11%) or an online grocery delivery service (6%), Pew found.

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Uber

Natural disasters attracted the most donations, with six of them on GoFundMe generating multiple campaigns that raised over $19 million.

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David J. Phillip/AP

However, people donated for a lot of other reasons from helping a disadvantaged straight A student with a disabled mother start a business to helping a seven-year-old fight cancer.

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GoFundMe

In fact, the largest ever GoFundMe campaign happened in 2016, a fund started by Equality Florida to support the victims of the Pulse Shooting in Orlando. It raised $7,853,140.

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REUTERS/Carlo Allegri

Hundreds of campaigns were launched to support people in North Dakota protesting against the planned North Dakota oil pipeline. The largest was also the second largest campaign for the whole site in 2016: The Official Sacred Stone Camp raised $2,975,372.

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Thomson Reuters

The third largest campaign was the Jo Cox’s Fund, which raised £1,923,280 ($2.4M). The fund was a response to the tragic murder of British politician Jo Cox, and it raised money for three of Jo’s favorite charities.

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Mourners leave candles in memory of murdered Labour Party MP Jo Cox, in London
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Thomson Reuters

Veterans for Standing Rock, a fund that raised money to support peaceful protests against the North Dakota oil pipeline, came in at No. 4 for 2016. It raised $1,143,295, and was launched by Wesley Clark Jr. and other military veterans.

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Thomson Reuters

The Alton Sterling Family Scholarship was the fifth biggest campaign. It raised $714,413 after Alton Sterling, a father of five, was killed by Baton Rouge police outside a convenience store. HIs death sparked nationwide outrage and HBO’s Issa Rae responded by launching this GoFundMe to help his family.

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Screenshot via The Advocate

The No 6 biggest campaign was the West Virginia Flood Relief, started by country music star Brad Paisley. It raised $710,403 for residents of his home state victimized floods.

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AP/Steve Helber

After a 10-alarm fire displaced at least 60 residents in Cambridge, Massachusetts, Mayor Simmons fired up this fund to assist the families. It raised $607,282 and was the No. 7 biggest campaign.

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GoFundMe

Kate, who lives in England, started a GoFundMe for her husband Mike, who has been battling Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia. It raised £454,064 ($573K) and helped him receive life-saving treatment in the U.S. It was the No. 8 biggest campaign.

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GoFundMe

A second fund in response to the Pulse shooting tragedy in Orlando raised another $561,607 which made it the No. 9 biggest campaign. It was started by the local Orlando LGBT organization.

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Police lock down Orange Avenue around Pulse nightclub, where people were killed by a gunman in a shooting rampage in Orlando, Florida June 12, 2016.
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REUTERS/Kevin Kolczynski

7-year-old Vinny spent two years growing out his hair to donate for a wig for a child with cancer. Then he was diagnosed with cancer. His grandparents started a campaign that raised $456,910 and became the No. 10 biggest in 2016.

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GoFundMe

When, Sophia Wilansky, a Standing Rock protester from New York, was severely injured while in North Dakota, this medical fund raised $422,939. It was the No. 11 biggest of the year.

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Sophia Wilansky
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GoFundMe

When Vancouver resident Erin ran out of treatment options for her Acute Myeloid Leukemia in Canada, her parents started a fund to help her get a stem cell transplant in Texas. It raised $385,395 and was No. 12 for 2016.

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GoFundMe

One of the nicest stories of the year was a fund that helped 89-year-old Popsicle vendor Fidencio to get enough money to retire. It raised $384,260 and was No. 13 for 2016.

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89-year-old Popsicle vendor Fidencio
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GoFundMe

After Blue Angel pilot Captain Jeff Kuss died in a plane crash in June, this fund was set up to help his wife Christina and their two small children. It raised $379,364 and landed at No. 14 for the year.

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Blue Angel pilot Captain Jeff Kuss and family
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GoFundMe

When Ballwin Police Officer Mike Flamion was ambushed and shot in July, fund was set up by his fellow officers and raised $371,193 to help with his recovery. It was No. 15 biggest for 2016.

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Ballwin Police Officer Mike Flamion
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GoFundMe

And the No. 16 biggest campaign is probably the most heart-warming of them all. A teen named Chauncy approached a guy one night at the store offering to carry his groceries in exchange for some donuts. He’s a straight A student with a disabled mom living in Memphis with very few resources. The man started the fund, hoping to raise $250 to help the kid get a lawn mower to start his own business. This fund raised $341,976 and changed Chauncy’s life forever.

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GoFundMe