Carmen George

As crowdfunding grows, a recap of some of the best Fresno giving campaigns of 2016

Jalen Bailey, founder of Jalen’s Bakery, prepares a batch of peanut butter cookies for the oven at his mother’s Fresno apartment in August.
Jalen Bailey, founder of Jalen’s Bakery, prepares a batch of peanut butter cookies for the oven at his mother’s Fresno apartment in August.

Crowdfunding websites aimed at raising money to support people in need, businesses and causes continue to grow in popularity in the central San Joaquin Valley and are changing the way people give.

When something happens, people want to help and folks in Fresno routinely step up.

Katherine Cichy, GoFundMe spokesperson, which markets itself as the world’s largest social fundraising platform with over $3 billion raised since its launch in 2010, says giving has “really taken off in the past year, especially in places like Fresno.” To better quantify that, Katherine Cichy, a GoFundMe spokesperson, says people in Fresno have often raised more money, and started more campaigns, than cities similar in size, such as Omaha, Nebraska.

Cichy says people in the Fresno metro area, which includes portions of Madera County, have raised more than $5.5 million over the past two years: 43,600 donations totaling $3.2 million in 2016, and 34,600 donations totaling $2.3 million in 2015. The number of GoFundMe campaigns has also increased – 3,400 created in 2016 compared to 3,100 in 2015. The average donation size is $69.

GoFundMe ranks California as its most generous (highest volume of donations) and top fundraising (most crowdfunding campaigns) state in the country.

Crowdfunding to help a person in need is the most popular way people give, with 68 percent of donors contributing to one of these campaigns, and 28 percent saying they gave to someone they didn’t know, according to GoFundMe’s annual report. While GoFundMe is among the most popular crowdfunding websites, there are a number of others, including Kickstarter, Indiegogo, YouCaring, Crowdrise and Razoo.

Here’s a list of some popular, unique and heartfelt giving campaigns started in 2016 in the Fresno area:

Illness and injury

▪ Stacy Greer and Family” supports a nurse and mother of three with a serious heart condition. Since mid-November, 255 people raised $40,000 for Greer and her family, making it one of the most successful Fresno campaigns this year.

▪ Injured Officer’s Fund” for Fresno County Correctional officers Juanita Davila and Toamalama Scanlan, injured during a shooting at the Fresno County Jail on Sept. 3.

▪ Help Cliff + Baby Live Through the Holidays” funds lodging and food for a homeless man whose Christmas wish is to find a home for his beloved dog, Baby, before he dies.

▪ 2016 Superhero Heart Run” supports a fundraiser for babies born with a congenital heart defect.

▪ New Ear for Alana” helps a little girl born with microtia, a rare ear deformity.

▪ Celia’s eye surgery” funded an eye surgery for a suffering stray cat.

Entrepreneurs and businesses

▪ Jalen’s Bakery” helps a boy’s bakery, founded in hopes of buying his single mom a house, saving for college, and making people happy.

▪ Fresno County Mural Mapping Photobookfunds a digital map of Fresno’s murals.

▪ Help our friends at Livingstones” supports staff at a popular Tower District pub and grill recently damaged by fire.

▪ Hocus Pocus 40th Anniversary Playing Cards” funded a project at Hocus Pocus Magic in Fresno.

▪ Moravia Wines Kid Park” supports a “Family Happy Hour” at the winery (but no wine for kids).

▪ Mobile pottery bus” helps an artist travel to festivals to do art therapy activities.

▪ Arthouse Rescue Project” helps an art collective offset costs to close its downtown location, pay fines and put a deposit on a new space.


▪ Send Evan to the Kennedy Center” is raising money for a Bullard High School student to perform in Washington, DC, in April.

▪ Help Van Return to Pearl Harbor” helped fund a 100-year-old Pearl Harbor survivor’s trip to Hawaii for the 75th anniversary of the attack on the harbor.

▪ Send Justin Kamimoto to DC” helped a young man from Clovis and founder of My LGBT Plus attend the White House Convening on Advancing LGBT Progress in Rural America event.

Responding to theft

▪ iPad for Joshua” helped replace a stolen iPad that a boy with autism used to communicate.

▪ Help The Red Eye Band” helps replace stolen band equipment.

▪ Help Fresno State’s Amber Crowell” helps an assistant professor of sociology after her U-Haul and car was stolen in route to California.

And Betty White

▪ While not a Fresno campaign, the “Help protect Betty White from 2016” supports peace of mind for Betty White fans worldwide after a string of celebrity deaths this year – another reminder that while 2016 was sad in many ways, there’s still a lot of giving and good going on.

Carmen George: 559-441-6386, @CarmenGeorge