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Obama Turns to Crowdfunding to Aid Fleeing Syrians

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New York Times by Michael D. Shear | October 6, 2015

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WASHINGTON — As Syrian refugees continue to flee the violence at home, President Obama is turning to the modern tools of Silicon Valley entrepreneurship as a supplement to the more traditional means of humanitarian relief.

At the request of officials from the White House Office of Digital Strategy, the crowdfunding website Kickstarter has begun its first social service campaign aimed at raising money for the United Nations refugee agency on behalf of Syrian refugees.

Visitors to the site, which is better known for helping inventors and filmmakers, can contribute $15 to buy a sleeping bag, $70 for an emergency rescue kit, or $160, which the site says could pay for a refugee’s shelter in a “well-built group tent, complete with sleeping bag and mat.”

The weeklong campaign, which began Tuesday, had raised more than $550,000 as of that night for a nonprofit organization that supports the United Nations refugee agency, an amount the site said had already helped more than 2,000 people.

In a blog post on the White House website, Joshua Miller, an official in the digital strategy office, wrote that the Kickstarter effort — along with a similar one with Instacart, an online grocery delivery service — is an effort to follow up on Mr. Obama’s plea for Americans to do their part on behalf of the refugees.

White House officials said the online fund-raising would not replace the government’s efforts or other programs to help manage the refugee crisis. The administration has said it plans to increase by 10,000 the number of Syrian refugees admitted into the United States in the next year and to further expand the number of refugees admitted from other countries.

Related: 4 Crowdfunding Mistakes for Social Entrepreneurs to Avoid

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The National Crowdfunding Association of Canada (NCFA Canada) is a cross-Canada non-profit actively engaged with both social and investment crowdfunding stakeholders across the country.  NCFA Canada provides education, research, leadership, support and networking opportunities to over 1100+ members and works closely with industry, government, academia, community and eco-system partners and affiliates to create a strong and vibrant crowdfunding industry in Canada.  Learn more About Us or visit

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