Kickstarter is crowdfunding for Syria, at the request of the White House, which asked if the crowdfunding website could find ways for the US public to help Syrian refugees, the Guardian reports. The result: this special Kickstarter page launched Tuesday, through which people can donate money that will go to the US Association of the UNHCR (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees). "UNHCR is helping, in Europe and around the globe," the campaign page explains. "And you can help them. ... Any money you give through this campaign will go directly to USA for UNHCR to provide aid to people who need it—everything from food, water, and warm clothes to special care for children separated from their families." Though "we have always kept the platform focused strictly on creative projects," Kickstarter's CEO tells the Guardian, in this case, "I immediately said yes" to something different.
Typically, when you choose a donation level on Kickstarter, you get the reward that is associated with that level—but in this case, donation levels are associated with what your money might do. For example, $15 "could provide one person with a mat and sleeping bag to rest in," while $70 "could provide two people with a complete emergency rescue kit, including water, food, a thermal blanket, and dry clothes." And, unlike a typical Kickstarter campaign in which funds are only dispersed if the funding goal is reached, "all contributions will be collected immediately at the time they’re made"—and both Kickstarter and the website's payments partner are waiving their usual fees, so all donations minus a small credit card processing fee will go directly to USA for UNHCR. As of Tuesday morning, more than 1,500 backers had donated more than $87,000. The campaign ends in one week. Donations are tax-deductible in the US. (Read more Syria stories.)