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

LAS VEGAS, NV - OCTOBER 3: Flowers were left on Las Vegas Blvd. near the scene of Sunday night's mass shooting, October 3, 2017 in Las Vegas, Nevada. The gunman, identified as Stephen Paddock, 64, of Mesquite, Nevada, allegedly opened fire from a room on the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino on the music festival, leaving at least 58 people dead and over 500 injured. According to reports, Paddock killed himself at the scene. The massacre is one of the deadliest mass shooting events in U.S. history. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — Millions of dollars have been donated or pledged to help victims of Sunday’s tragic shooting incident, and millions more could be raised in the days ahead.

But how will the money be spent and what steps are being taken to make sure the funds get into the right hands?

Online fundraising is a powerful and effective tool that has helped raise money for all sorts of worthy causes, everything from the Las Vegas victims Fund to helping regular people pay their bills. The GoFundMe webpage for Las Vegas victims has already proven wildly successful but there are costs to raising money this way, and, it turns out, there is competition for who gets to dish out the dough.

Clark County Commissioner Steve Sisolak and Sheriff Joe Lombardo originally hoped to raise half a million dollars through the use of the GoFundMe webpage. Donations blew past that number in a matter of hours. the new goal is 15 million, and that too will likely be exceeded.

The two officials set two conditions — they wanted all the money to go to victims, not to administrative costs, and they wanted local control of how the money is eventually disbursed. Some costs are built in.

GoFundMe charges a standard 5 percent of the total raised, plus another 2.9 percent to payment processors, as well as 30 cents per individual donation. There have been nearly 80,000 donations, so far. GoFundMe told the I-Team, it does not charge a fee for large offline donations included in the total, such as the $3 million from the MGM Resorts and the half-a-million dollars from gambler Bill Walters.

GoFundMe also donated $150,000 to the fund.

As of Friday afternoon, the net total of money going to GoFundMe amounts to about $340,000. GoFundMe said it will not waive the fees, but will work in managing the money to make sure it gets where it is needed most.

Thursday evening, Clark County Commissioner Steve Sisolak confirmed that at least three fund managers are vying to administer the Las Vegas donations, and all three have experience, including New Yorkers who managed post 9-11 funds, a group which worked on the aftermath of the Boston Marathon bombings, and a delegation from Orlando, which helped victims of the nightclub shooting.

Whoever gets the job will have to set criteria for spending the money and determine which applicants have legitimate claims.

“I think you’re talking we might have a couple months to get the big money out there because the money is just coming in now and you can’t just make payments to everybody every week in terms of what comes in. Right now, we’re in the gathering phase and we’re going to gather as much as we can and every one of those dollars are going to go back out to people,” Sisolak said.

Whichever organization is chosen to administer the victim’s fund, Commissioner Sisolak says fundraising will continue. Some ideas being mentioned include star-studded galas, maybe a telethon.

The expenses for victims and their loved ones, will be substantial for years to come, especially ongoing medical costs. GoFundMe told the I-Team, it will use its expertise in this kind of endeavor to help get the money where it’s needed most.

If you’d rather not use GoFundMe, you can send a check to the “Las Vegas Victims’ Fund” at the following address:

Steve Sisolak
Clark County
500 S. Grand Central Parkway
Las Vegas, NV 89155

Sheriff’s Office
Las Vegas Victim’s Fund
Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department
400 S. Martin L. King Blvd.
Las Vegas, NV 89106

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