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Significant number of Canadians using GoFundMe to help cover the cost of living

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UPDATE: The name of the Ottawa resident that set up the GoFundMe page has been removed to protect their privacy.

More Canadians are turning to crowdfunding to help cover basic cost-of-living expenses, like rent or groceries.

An Ottawa resident lives on his own in the city's Sandy Hill neighbourhood, and says with no help from family, it is now a struggle to get by.

"Sometimes it's a choice between food, rent and bills," the resident said. After living expenses, all of the leftover funds go toward paying down overall debt. In December 2023, the resident set up a GoFundMe campaign asking for $5,000.

The strugling resident currently pays just under $2,000 a month for rent, bills and minimum loan payments saying, "It was hard enough saving up for rent with how hard it is to get work, but there's also a lot of debt that I have to pay off. That's the main reason I set up the GoFundMe. I always feel like I can get closer and closer to paying it off, but I never end up there."

This resident isn't the only one turning to the crowdfunding platform for help. GoFundMe released data this month showing a massive increase in the number of people using the platform to help cover the cost of living.

Since 2020, GoFundMe has recorded a 274 per cent rise in Canadian campaigns that mention "cost-of-living."

Between 2020 and 2023:

  • approximately 215,000 GoFundMe campaigns were created to support Canadians struggling with cost-of-living related expenses. That helped raise over $480 million dollars.
  • approximately 56,000 GoFundMe campaigns were created to support Canadians struggling with the cost of food.
  • approximately 140,000 GoFundMe campaigns were created to support Canadians with the cost of rent.

In Ottawa, GoFundMe recorded approximately 1,500 cost of living related campaigns between 2020 and 2023 that raised about $8 million.

Ved Khan, senior corporate affairs manager for GoFundMe Canada says, "In terms of types of things that we're seeing, it's really the basic necessities, which we see dominate the types of campaigns on our platform."

He says the platform is often a reflection of what's happening in society and that GoFundMe is seeing these kinds of campaigns everywhere.

"It's evident of the hurt that people are facing," he said.

GoFundMe data also show that with the housing crisis, soaring rent and home prices, and increased unemployment, more business owners are turning to the platform for help.

Karl Schoenrock runs Kismet Creek Farm in Manitoba and says his business has not been able to bounce back post-pandemic because of high inflation and interest rates. With the help of his volunteer staff, he set up a GoFundMe campaign asking for $40,000 to help the farm make it through to spring. "It would be nice to get to our goal, but that hasn't happened yet, but so far we're still here," Schoenrock says.

Business on the farm was doing well before the pandemic, but with COVID-19 restrictions preventing the public from visiting, Schoenrock's business struggled, and he went into further personal debt to keep the farm going.

"I'm just really appreciative of GoFundMe because without them, I wouldn't be here, and my entire life would be over as we know it." 

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