US credit cards take fees for refugee crowdfunding

Kickstarter is waiving fees for crowdfunding campaign for Syrian refugees but credit card companies still take a cut.

I very rarely get to do positive stories. It’s kind of the nature of the business and I cover the White House so you can imagine.

Thursday was going to be a different day for me. I had been working to put together a story about the White House asking the crowdfunding site Kickstarter to start a campaign for Syrian refugees.

The money will go to UNHCR. With five days to go in the campaign more than $1m has been raised. 

I think the world has been deeply impacted by the constant stream of misery. I don’t know anyone who wasn’t moved, in many cases to tears, by the sight of little Alan Kurdi’s tiny body washed up on the beach in Turkey.

I kept hearing the same thing from everyone I know; “I just wish I could do something to help.” This was going to be the easy answer; Kickstarter.

Then I had to ask that one additional question; Have the credit card companies waived their fees?

The CEO of Kickstarter told us; “While typically we charge 5 percent as a fee – that’s what allows our company to exist and sustain itself – in this instance we’re donating that amount of money to the UN refugee agency so we will not profit in any way off this project. At this point that’s a 50,000 donation we’d be making on the first million dollars and that will only increase. That’s a check we’re proud to write. We use a company called Stripe.They’re donating what they normally collect. However Visa, Mastercard and American Express, we haven’t been able to talk them out of their fees. But still 98 percent of every dollar will be going directly to the UNHCR.”

I contacted all three companies to ask if they realised they are charging that fee. American Express and Visa got back to me. They weren’t aware that they were going to take 2 percent of money meant for refugees but they highlighted the amount of money their respective companies have already donated.

No one gave any indication they planned to change the practice. I’m guessing that might change if enough customers say it should. That might happen. We will see in the days ahead.

I like doing stories that highlight the best of mankind, tales of people doing what is right. Maybe, I’ll get to do a follow-up one. That would be a very positive story.

Source : Al Jazeera


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