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GoFundMe expands into Mexico

ASSOCIATED PRESS / APRIL 19
                                GoFundMe Chief Executive Officer Tim Cadogan poses for a photo in Altadena, Calif. Mexican fundraisers can now solicit donations on GoFundMe, the company announced Tuesday, under an expansion that the crowdfunding giant hopes is the first of additional entrances into untapped Latin American markets. Mexico marks the 20th country serviced by GoFundMe.
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ASSOCIATED PRESS / APRIL 19

GoFundMe Chief Executive Officer Tim Cadogan poses for a photo in Altadena, Calif. Mexican fundraisers can now solicit donations on GoFundMe, the company announced Tuesday, under an expansion that the crowdfunding giant hopes is the first of additional entrances into untapped Latin American markets. Mexico marks the 20th country serviced by GoFundMe.

NEW YORK >> Mexican fundraisers can now solicit donations on GoFundMe, the company announced Tuesday, as the crowdfunding giant expands into what it hopes is the first of more untapped Latin American markets to follow.

Mexico marks the 20th country serviced by GoFundMe. The for-profit platform is eyeing new international targets now that the unprecedented strain of crowdfunding campaign levels spawned by COVID-19 has eased to pre-pandemic figures, CEO Tim Cadogan told The Associated Press.

Mexico’s status as one of the world’s largest 15 economies and a close U.S. partner made it a logical fit, said Cadogan, as did on-the-ground interest evidenced by high search volume for GoFundMe and user attempts to establish in-country campaigns.

The company finds that its generally popular appeals for help with medical expenses and emergency aid are also common in Mexico — a country with relatively high out-of-pocket healthcare expenditures and a history of severe natural disasters.

Cadogan pointed to Category 5 Hurricane Otis’ deadly touchdown last fall on the southern Pacific coast and the resort city of Acapulco. The GoFundMe community raised about $1.5 million to help recovery and rebuilding efforts, Cadogan said. But Mexicans themselves could not launch campaigns.

“If we had been available then, I think more people would have been able to avail themselves of the service,” Cadogan said.

Mexico remains a country where about half the population lives in poverty, and where any unexpected expense — most often medical, but also related to events as terrifying as kidnapping or extortion — can prompt appeals for funds.

United States users had previously circumvented the geographic restrictions by opening GoFundMe campaigns on behalf of relatives in Mexico or other Latin American countries, according to Jeremy Snyder, a bioethicist who researches medical crowdfunding. Snyder expects that the expansion will ease the flow of money between users from the two countries, where many families have ties to both sides of the border.

“It’s just more evidence of the spread and normalization of crowdfunding,” Snyder said of Tuesday’s announcement.

Likeminded networks already exist in Mexico. Founded in 2016, Donadora first supported creative industries before refocusing on personal causes. Some 527,000 donors have given about $14 million, or 239 million Mexican pesos, to more than 6,800 campaigns, according to the company website. Donadora keeps 6.5% of donations before releasing the funds.

But none have the reach of GoFundMe. Cadogan said GoFundMe is well positioned because of its strong brand awareness, advantageous pricing structure and security protections. GoFundMe takes 2.9% of every transaction plus another five Mexican pesos. The company also guarantees full refunds of any donation amount for users who successfully file claims within one year of making a payment.

Financial technology startup Stripe will serve as the online payment provider. Fundraisers must be at least 18 years old, share a Mexican postal address, have a Mexican bank account and submit their federal taxpayer registry number.

The rollout will inform the company’s consideration of other Latin American countries where GoFundMe currently does not have a presence, Cadogan said.

“We would love to serve more markets,” Cadogan told AP. “But we want to understand them carefully and really see how, in this case, our first Latin American market plays out.”

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