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Extremists crowdfunded more than $6.2 million online in recent years, ADL report finds

“Internet crowdfunding makes it incredibly easy to spread extremist messaging,” says ADL’s Mark Dwyer.

A QAnon sticker on the back of a pickup truck. Credit: Wikimedia Commons.
A QAnon sticker on the back of a pickup truck. Credit: Wikimedia Commons.

Between 2016 and 2022, extremist groups raised more than $6.2 million on 10 crowdfunding sites, including GoFundMe and GiveSendGo, per a new report from the Anti-Defamation League’s Center on Extremism.

The ADL tracked campaigns with “hateful rhetoric including antisemitism, white supremacy, QAnon conspiracies and anti-LGBTQ+ extremism, as well as rhetoric from antisemitic sects of Black Hebrew Israelites.” The 324 campaigns generated at least $6,246,072, the ADL said.

“Crowdfunding is a financial lifeline for various extremists who rely on it to fund their campaigns, propaganda and activity,” Oren Segal, vice president of the Center on Extremism, said in a statement.

He added that the crowdfunding platforms must police hateful campaigns but instead can have lax policies on hate. GoFundMe, the largest such platform, has generated nearly $580,000 for hate groups—overwhelmingly to the antisemitic Black Hebrew Israelites—despite service terms that prohibit violence, hate and discrimination, according to the ADL.

“GoFundMe has taken some action to remove hateful or extremist campaigns from its site, but its efforts founder when it comes to the BHI movement, which has posted fundraisers for antisemitic documentaries and propaganda,” the ADL said of the Black Hebrew Israelites. “These funds make up 94% of the extremist or hateful campaigns identified by ADL on GoFundMe.”

Mark Dwyer, extremism funding investigator at the ADL’s Center on Extremism, told JNS that extremists have long monetized hate.

“Before online crowdfunding, other internet technologies were leveraged by extremists, and before the internet, monetization schemes like ‘passing the hat’ (so-to-speak), membership dues, mail-in donations and mail order catalogs were all used,” he said in an email.

A lack of data precludes comparing amounts raised in different methods over long periods of time. “We can say that internet crowdfunding makes it incredibly easy to spread extremist messaging, in turn motivating donors to give, and that crowdfunding makes it comparably easier to give to extremist causes,” he said.

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