Who gets the money? Questions raised about GoFundMe for Las Vegas victims


LAS VEGAS (KLAS) – One way people are honoring the lives lost in the shooting at the Route 91 music festival is by opening up their wallets.

MGM Resorts already donated a whopping $3 million to the victims and their families and Sheldon Adelson and the Las Vegas Sands Corporation donated $4 million.

Zappo’s, the UFC, and Station Casinos have all pledged $1 million each.

Many individuals are also donating what they can, including more than $9 million raised in a GoFundMe campaign started by Clark County Commissioner Steve Sisolak and Sheriff Joe Lombardo. But exactly how will the money be put into the hands of those who need it?

The LasVegasNow.com I-Team tried to find out.

The outpouring of generosity has been inspirational and astounding. The GoFundMe effort is perhaps the best example of that.

As of Thursday evening, that fund stood at $9.5 million raised in just a few days from 77,000 donations. So, how will the money be spent, and who will administer the funds?

“We set up a GoFundMe account because the sheriff and I thought that we could maybe help some of these victims with funeral expenses, with travel expenses,” Sisolak said.READ MORE: Stories about the Las Vegas victims

Commissioner Sisolak’s idea to team up with Sheriff Joe Lombardo in starting a fund to help shooting victims quickly exceeded expectations.

It is not clear how the millions of dollars in the fund will be dispersed. At Wednesday’s county commission meeting, the discussion focused on whether a third party such as the National Center for Victims of Crime could be brought in to handle the administrative duties. Those duties include getting the money into the hands of those who need it most by paying for ongoing medical treatments, travel expenses for the wounded and funeral expenses for those who died.

On Thursday, the I-Team learned another potential partner surfaced. Discussions were held behind the scenes between Commissioner Sisolak’s staff and individuals with experience in administering funds raised in the wake of a tragedy. In particular, the Boston Marathon bombings of 2013. Three people were killed and hundreds were injured. Donations exceeded $60 million.

Boston’s experience could serve as a model, however, no agreement has been reached.

“We are in the process now of deciding strategy and structure, how to give out the money. We had people today who flew in to meet with county staff to try and coordinate this. The sheriff and I are not involved with this. We started it, but that’s the extent of what we plan to do,” Sisolak said.

It is not known how and to whom the Las Vegas money would be distributed, but a large chunk of the donated money will stay with GoFundMe, the company which hosts the fundraising web page.

GoFundMe charges a standard 7.9 percent of all the money raised plus a fee of 30 cents per donation. As of Thursday evening, 77,000 individual donations have been made from 75 countries around the world.

That means the total fee charged by GoFundMe for hosting the Las Vegas page could exceed $776,000 dollars.

Whether GoFundMe can be talked into cutting some slack on its fees is unknown.

Commissioner Sisolak said, that in addition to a group from Boston, county staff also met with groups who managed similar funds following tragedies in New York and Orlando. Whoever administers the Las Vegas fund must agree to allow for local control in vetting which people qualify to receive some of the money.

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