DSA Medical Fund Timeline

Community members have raised important questions about the DSA medical fund that was created for the victims of white supremacist violence on August 11 and August 12. In the interest of full transparency, we have attempted to create a complete timeline outlining what happened from the fund’s creation to its ultimate disbursement to the National Compassion Fund (NCF). Within the timeline, we have attempted to outline what specific decisions could have been made to improve transparency and timely disbursement of funds along with potential best practices for future GoFundMe campaigns. The full timeline is included below:

August 12: A DSA member in Alaska created the GoFundMe; the fund was created in his name

  • The fund was created without contacting local chapters or the national organization; this created an immediate communication gap between the creator of the fund, staff, the National Political Committee (NPC), local chapters, and victims

August 12/13: Once the fund had raised a significant amount of money and Charlottesville DSA saw it on social media, Charlottesville DSA shared the GoFundMe on social media; national DSA followed Charlottesville’s lead in sharing the link

  • Charlottesville DSA should have coordinated with national staff and all relevant local chapters to ensure a full process for disbursing funds was in place before sharing the fundraiser on social media

August 14/15: The DSA member who created the GoFundMe transferred funds that were raised into the bank account of national DSA due to concerns about taxes and oversight

  • This left national staff/NPC without enough time to develop a plan for disbursing funds. In addition, the funds going into the bank account of a national 501c4 organization put significant restrictions on how the funds could be used due to legal liability issues

August 28: National DSA staff developed a plan to disburse funds and presented multiple options to the NPC; staff recommended using the National Compassion Fund (NCF) because it didn’t involve police reports

  • If issues of legal liability that arose once funds entered the bank account of national DSA prevented any other options from being feasible, the NPC should have voted to endorse the NCF plan that staff developed as quickly as possible so that staff could clearly communicate to everyone that the NCF process would be used. National DSA and all relevant local chapters should have immediately held a conference call with the NPC, staff, the GoFundMe creator, and local chapters immediately after the proposal was developed in order to eliminate any communication gaps and get input from all stakeholders

Late August/early September: The NPC requested alternative proposals for how to disburse funds from Charlottesville DSA

  • Requesting a proposal from Charlottesville DSA delayed the NPC’s ability to make a decision on how funds would be disbursed. A conference call between the NPC and Charlottesville DSA should have been immediately held in order to get clarity on what the NPC’s decision making process was, what proposals it was able to accept given concerns about legal liability and internal capacity, and what the exact purpose of Charlottesville DSA’s proposal was

Mid-September: Charlottesville DSA produced a proposal for donating funds to an existing local community mental health service provider

  • Charlottesville DSA should have verified with the NPC what the NPC’s decision making process was and where Charlottesville DSA’s proposal fit in within it in order to avoid delaying the NPC’s decision any further

October 3: A conference call was held with national staff, the national steering committee, NPC members, and members of Charlottesville DSA and Richmond DSA. Charlottesville DSA’s proposal for donating to a local community mental health service provider was rejected due to concerns that victims without insurance in Richmond had immediate medical bills that should be covered before money went to community mental health services. On the call, it was suggested that Richmond DSA produce an additional proposal for the NPC about how funds might be disbursed

  • Richmond DSA should have been included in the process from the beginning. The conference call should have happened much sooner in order to ensure that the NPC’s decision was delayed for as short a time as possible

October 10: Richmond DSA produced their proposal and presented it on a conference call with national staff, the national steering committee, NPC members, and members of Charlottesville DSA

  • The NPC should have provided more clarity on what kind of proposals they would likely be able to accept given legal liability concerns that arose once funds entered the bank account of a national 501c4 organization

October 14: The NPC voted to donate all funds raised by the GoFundMe to the National Compassion Fund (NCF)

  • Staff recommended using the NCF in August. If legal liability and internal capacity issues made it the only feasible option for disbursing funds, the NPC should have been forthright and honest about that issue and made a firm decision in late August or early September that was then clearly communicated to all stakeholders

October 17: All funds are donated to the NCF and the NCF’s link to request funds is publicly shared. The link to request funds from the NCF is: http://nationalcompassionfund.org/funds/charlottesville-contact/

Our largest takeaways in terms of what future GoFundMe campaigns should do:

  1. Funds should be created by local, on-the-ground chapters
  2. Before any fundraising campaigns are initiated, a fully developed process for disbursing funds should be created
  3. Before fundraising campaigns are shared on social media, it should be verified that a full process for disbursing funds is already in place
  4. If rapid disbursement of funds without the involvement of any local, state, or national state agencies is desired, money should not enter the bank account of a national 501c4 organization