Many In Upstate Getting Into Crowdfunding Craze -

Many In Upstate Getting Into Crowdfunding Craze

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With his station nestled in the northern part of Laurens County, Durbin Creek Fire Chief Nate Seay says his firefighters are often first on the scene.

"Being first responders and a cardiac arrest situation, early defibrillation is an important process," said Seay.

Problem is, his volunteer fire department only has one automated external defibrillator. They need two more, one for each fire engine.

"It helps improve their chance of living," said Seay.

But they can't afford the $3,200 cost.

"That will pay for the two new AEDs with the pads," said Seay.

So the nearly 30 year old fire station is turning to a new way of fundraising. It set up a fundraising page online, through the crowdfunding website GoFundMe.

"We've only been doing it six days," said Seay. "20 bucks so far."

Durbin Fire & Rescue is one of dozens of groups, individuals and businesses in the Upstate now using crowdfunding sites. And many have been very successful. A quick search for Spartanburg on GoFundMe turned up pages of results, like Project Pawws Spartanburg.

The group provides dog houses, food, flea treatment and other pet essentials to dog owners in need. Founder Sheila Boom says they turned to crowdfunding to help keep up with demand. And it's working, raising more than $2,600 so far.

"We are not a nonprofit rescue yet. And this was, for us, the best way to actually get funds from people that are not local," said Boom.

Seay is hoping the online community kicks in for them as well so they can finally buy those AEDs, not just to stock the trucks but to help save lives.

"If we had the money to buy them tomorrow and put them in service in the community, that would be the best," said Seay.

Each of these crowdfunding sites is different. GoFundMe includes many individual fundraisers and suggests that you only donate to people you know and trust.

The South Carolina Department of Consumer Affairs suggests you investigate before you give, to make sure your money goes to the right place. Do a quick google search, look at the group's Facebook page or website to help verify if they're legit.

Also, check the crowdfunding site's policy section to see how they vet fundraisers.

Don't hhesitateto request more information before donating to a specific cause.

No matter what, only give what you can afford to lose.

If you suspect fraud, report it to the crowdfunding site immediately.

You can also file a complaint online with the SC Department of Consumer Affairs.

Tracey Early
Tracey co-anchors the 5:30 and 7 p.m. newscasts and is a general assignment reporter.
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