An online campaign to raise funds for a disabled pensioner who was mugged outside his home in Gateshead has raised more than £290,500 in four days.
Alan Barnes, who is visually impaired and 4ft 6in tall, has spoken of his amazement at the kindness of strangers, including Katie Cutler, who did not know Barnes but set up an online fundraising page after reading about him sustaining a broken collarbone in the attack last week.
The page on the US-based fundraising website GoFundMe initially aimed to raise £500 to help Barnes move home after he said that he was afraid to go out after the attack, but more than 22,000 donations have been received from people throughout the world.
Many people who donated money commented on the fundraising page about the cowardly nature of the attack, but also highlighted being touched by the care shown by Cutler, to the extent that a fundraising page has now also been set up for her. A total of £645 has been raised from 46 people in 15 hours, against a target of £500.
GoFundMe deducts 5 per cent from each donation to cover operating expenses. According to the Daily Mirror newspaper, supporters of Barnes are calling for the California-based company – which stands to receive more than £14,500 from Barnes’s fundraising page – to waive its fees.
Nobody from the company was available for comment on Monday morning, but a statement on its website about its fees says: "GoFundMe has major operating expenses like any popular internet service, including technology, infrastructure, payroll and benefits for our dedicated team of employees.
"We have purposely created a business model that allows users to sign up and launch their campaign for free. Visitors to our users' campaigns are greeted with a frustration-free giving experience, void of advertisements and other distractions – helping our users to raise even more money."