Amid an affordability crisis, more Canadians in dire financial straits are turning to GoFundMe for help and relying on the kindness of internet strangers.
The for-profit crowdfunding platform is often used to help cover medical expenses, education costs, volunteer programs, youth sports, funerals and memorials, and even to raise funds for animals and pets. But in the past few years, the company has seen an alarming rise in another trend.
“Record-high inflation and affordable housing shortages have profoundly impacted Canadians, who have been turning to the GoFundMe platform to rally support,” reads a report released on Monday. “GoFundMe recently recorded a significant increase in Canadian campaigns mentioning ‘cost of living.'”
The company has seen a sharp increase, recording a 274 per cent jump in campaigns that mention “cost of living” since 2020.
Between 2020 and 2023, there were around 214,912 campaigns for Canadians struggling with living expenses. Those campaigns raised around $480,212,706 in donations.
Toronto, Calgary, and Vancouver are the cities with the most cost-of-living-related campaigns.
The reasons people need help are heartbreaking.
The company has found that Canadians seek support in two specific categories: food and housing.
“Additionally, the number of campaigns that have been set up to support Canadians with food and housing costs is notably high,” reads the report.
From 2020 to 2023, the company found 55,997 campaigns from Canadians asking for help with food costs. As for rent, there were around 139,447 campaigns set up for those struggling to pay for housing.
In one case, an Ontario man experiencing homelessness had no choice but to live in his car, a situation worsened by the fact that he couldn’t afford repairs.
“I have been living in my vehicle since February 2023 and managing well until the ball joint for my front axle broke in late August,” reads the post. “I am now stuck in place until I can find some assistance.”
The campaign managed to raise $8,371.
But even though 2023 was a challenging year for many Canadians, many still had it in their hearts to be generous and give to those in need, according to the 2023 GoFundMe Year in Giving Report.
Last year, GoFundMe recorded two million donations in Canada, a 7.3 per cent increase from last year’s 1.86 million donations.
Although the most generous communities were located nationwide, British Columbia and Ontario dominated the top-20 list this year.
Victoria, BC, was named the most generous community in Canada, followed by North Vancouver and Vancouver.