Press Release

ADL Research Finds Extremists and Bigots Raise Millions of Dollars Through Online Donations

Study shows extremists and bigots used ten platforms, including major sites like GoFundMe and GiveSendGo, to crowdfund more than $6.2 million for events, legal fees, propaganda

New York, NY, January 31, 2023 … Today, ADL (the Anti-Defamation League) Center on Extremism released a new investigation analyzing hundreds of extremist crowdfunding campaigns across ten platforms that raised more than $6.2 million between 2016 and 2022. 

Major crowdfunding platforms GoFundMe and GiveSendGo were used the most, but there were also several small, short-lived sites that were dedicated to extremist and hateful causes. 

Campaigns on these sites espouse hateful rhetoric including antisemitism, white supremacy, QAnon conspiracies and anti-LGBTQ+ extremism, as well as rhetoric from antisemitic sects of Black Hebrew Israelites.

Across all ten platforms, the ADL Center on Extremism found that extremists have generated at least $6,246,072 from 324 campaigns. 

"Crowdfunding is a financial lifeline for various extremists who rely on it to fund their campaigns, propaganda and activity," said Oren Segal, Vice President of the ADL Center on Extremism. "Major servicers like GoFundMe and GiveSendGo have a responsibility to enforce their terms of service and stop the exploitation of their platforms by people and groups that traffic in bigotry and violence." 

Extremists use these campaigns to obtain a wider audience for their hateful messages through online engagement, propaganda or other means. Some will even crowdfund for legal fees or medical expenses related to violent activities. Hundreds of campaigns have been connected to the January 6 insurrection, raising more than $4.75 million. Dozens more have been connected to other violent extremist events, including the deadly 2017 Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, VA. Campaigns connected to the Unite the Right rally raised more than $75,000. 

GiveSendGo is a singularly important platform of the extremist fundraising ecosystem. Of the 324 campaigns tracked by the Center on Extremism, 230 were hosted on GiveSendGo. On that site alone, extremists and bigots have raised at least $5.4 million, accounting for more than 86 percent of the funds tracked in this report. It is particularly favored by extremists for its stance against what it calls “censorship.” Despite its official policies prohibiting campaigns “that promote hate, violence, racial discrimination or the financial exploitation of a crime,” extremists and conspiracy theorists have flocked to GiveSendGo because of its lax moderation practice. 

GiveSendGo’s founders have expressed tolerance of extremism on their platform, even saying they would allow the Ku Klux Klan to use their platform as long as it was legal.

GoFundMe is the largest crowdfunding platform, and although its terms of service also appear to prohibit campaigns that support violence, terrorism, hate and discrimination, extremists have managed to raise nearly $580,000 there. The vast majority of that money has gone to antisemitic Black Hebrew Israelites. GoFundMe has taken some action to remove hateful or extremist campaigns from its site, but its efforts founder when it comes to the BHI movement, which has posted fundraisers for antisemitic documentaries and propaganda. These funds make up 94 percent of the extremist or hateful campaigns identified by ADL on GoFundMe.

Extremists and haters have ready access to crowdfunding, which means major sites like GoFundMe and GiveSendGo, as well as financial institutions, must take direct, intentional action. To respond to this abuse of their service, ADL recommends that both parties expand existing anti-hate policies, as well as implement and enforce explicit anti-extremism policies. 

Broad anti-hate policies are not enough to address the spread of extremism online, and crowdfunding services should determine how to define, act against and identify extremist content on their platforms. Payment processors should reevaluate supporting platforms that allow extremism.
For ADL’s list of recommendations to crowdfunding platforms, financial institutions and lawmakers, please see the full report here

ADL is the leading anti-hate organization in the world. Founded in 1913, its timeless mission is “to stop the defamation of the Jewish people and to secure justice and fair treatment to all.” Today, ADL continues to fight all forms of antisemitism and bias, using innovation and partnerships to drive impact. A global leader in combating antisemitism, countering extremism and battling bigotry wherever and whenever it happens, ADL works to protect democracy and ensure a just and inclusive society for all.