Thousands take to the Internet to raise money - WFSB 3 Connecticut

Thousands take to the Internet to raise money

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NEW HAVEN, CT (WFSB) -

Crowdfunding has become a fast way to raise money over the internet according to thousands of users.

People looking for help to cover everything from Disneyland trips to medical expenses have flocked to sites like GoFundMe.com.

It's just one fundraising page that has brought in hundreds of thousands of dollars for folks asking for donations.

The family of Abbie Miller in New Haven has benefited from GoFundMe. The Millers said they've received almost $3,600 to help the 14-year-old, who was diagnosed with a rare nerve disease that causes extreme facial pain.

"The money is just not there and we are really dependent on donations and the GoFundMe account," Dawn Miller said.

Anyone looking to donate to her cause can find the page here.

Not all of the needs are medical. Devin Skelton of Beacon Falls is raising money to cover the cost of scrapping his gas-guzzling SUV in favor of a 3-wheel Velomobile.

"Using this to replace one of my vehicles would be a great start toward helping the environment and giving me my fitness, that's another great benefit of this," Skelton said.

A Velomobile runs about $10,000, according to Skelton.

"It allows a lot of sharing through the site so I share it on Facebook, Twitter, Linked-In, Pinterest," he said. "I can share it across there and get it in front of a greater audience."

The Internet phenomenon of "crowdfunding" started about two years ago, experts said. It's a way to reach thousands of people in a short amount of time.

"A lot of people are interested in helping to build someone up, to create that next great story of wow," said David Tomczyk, a professor of Quinnipiac University. "We helped this person do the one last trip before they died or gave this person the best wedding of their life and that's what makes people feel good."

Tomczyk said people of all educational levels and backgrounds are using sites like GoFundMe, Kickstarter and Indiegogo for a variety of reasons.

"Maybe I want to clean up my park and want to replace the equipment that's broken down but I can't do that with my small community," said Tomczyk. "But if I reach out to the world as a whole, there are other people out there who have the money or resources who are willing to contribute to help me achieve success."

Tomczyk said he's been an investor on some projects himself, including a movie project called The Veronica Mars Movie. He said when Warner Bros. decided not to fund the project, a Kickstarter campaign was launched. He said more than 91,000 people raised more than $5.7 million.

The movie will be released next month.

"With crowdfunding you have access to a wider community and what we are seeing is more people with greater philanthropic intent willing to give more funding toward causes," Tomczyk said.

Depending on the site, the company takes a small percentage of the money being raised. GoFundMe said it takes 7.9 percent.

Many said it's still worth it and in many cases, the donations can be anonymous.

Here are links to the sites:

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