Nora Abramov ’16 recently responded to a regional tragedy by setting up a fund for the victim’s young daughter. An article in the Ithaca Times explains how Abramov ultimately raised more than $25,000 for the family.
“After the horrendous accident on June 20 in downtown Ithaca, when a brakeless tractor trailer crashed into Simeon’s restaurant and took the life of young Amanda Bush, many people wanted to do something to help. Bush left behind her not only a grieving fiancé and her many siblings, large extended family and friends, but her young daughter, Madison Cortright,” the article states.
“Nora Abramov didn’t know the family, but she was moved to do something. ‘I found out about the crash on Facebook, and the Simeon’s people were like, ‘let me know if you hear of a fund’ and there wasn’t one.'”
Abramov went to GoFundMe, a crowdfunding website, to create a fund and immediately started raising money. She soon discovered, however, that the site’s administrative fees cut into the portion of the donations the cause – in this case the family – would receive. Since there would be money donated that the family would not get, donors began to question Abramov’s motives and demand their money back. Abramov pledged she would cover the administrative fees out of her own pocket so the family received every cent donated.
“I wanted all the money to go to the family, specifically Madison, the baby,” she said.
Ultimately, another donor covered most of her costs in support of her altruistic motives and the money raised has been put in trust for the Bush family.
“I wouldn’t change what I did,” Abramov said. “I think the positivity is greater than the negative comments I got from people- it’s just, this wasn’t something I had thought about.”
On campus, Abramov is a public policy and economics major and a member of Habitat for Humanity at HWS.
The full article follows and is online.
After Simeon’s Crash, Samaritan Learns Hard Lesson
Glynis Hart • September 8, 2014
After the horrendous accident on June 20 in downtown Ithaca, when a brakeless tractor trailer crashed into Simeon’s restaurant and took the life of young Amanda Bush, many people wanted to do something to help. Bush left behind her not only a grieving fiancé and her many siblings, large extended family and friends, but her young daughter, Madison Cortright.
Nora Abramov didn’t know the family, but she was moved to do something. “I found out about the crash on Facebook, and the Simeon’s people were like, ‘let me know if you hear of a fund’ and there wasn’t one.”
Abramov said she contacted Ithaca Mayor Svante Myrick and offered to start a fund herself. Myrick asked if she knew the family. “I said, I don’t know them, but it doesn’t stop me from wanting to help.”
At the same time, she didn’t feel comfortable calling up strangers, especially when they were grieving. “I didn’t want to bother them at this time. So, I got Svante’s okay and started sharing the link.”
Abramov went to GoFundMe, a crowdfunding website that helps people find donations for good causes. GoFundMe is geared toward people trying to pay medical expenses, more than other sites like KickStarter or IndieGoGo. Crowdfunding allows people to create a webpage for businesses or nonprofit projects, wherein they can receive donations through PayPal or another money transfer agency. Each site has different terms and conditions; IndieGoGo, for instance, aims to help people trying to start businesses and organizations. It asks users to state a goal, and if that goal is not met, the money goes back to the donors.
According to International Business Times, GoFundMe has a good reputation, but occasionally its lax rules for who can use the site can be a problem, and IBT questioned the legitimacy of some of the fundraising causes on the site. GoFundMe advises visitors to the site to donate to people they know. However, unlike IndieGoGo, GoFundMe won’t send the money back if a donation goal isn’t met; whether it’s $25 or $2500, it goes to the cause.
There is, however, a catch. Abramov hoped to raise $1000 for the family. She started the site on Friday night, the day of the crash. By Saturday morning, that $1000 had already been donated, and more was coming.
GoFundMe, in its terms and conditions, states that the site charges a 5% fee for use of the site, then 2.9% on top of that for transferring payments. For a thousand dollars in raised funds, GoFundMe took nearly $80 out of the donations. “I wanted all the money to go to the family, specifically Madison, the baby,” said Abramov. She did get in touch with the family, but Abramov, who is a student at Hobart William Smith, didn’t think about the nuts and bolts of what she was doing, and neither did they. “They were just thankful that people wanted to help; we still haven’t really finalized how all this is going to work,” said Abramov.
On June 23, the United Way and the City of Ithaca set up a fund for Amanda Bush’s family. This was billed as the official site for fundraising, and the family endorsed it.
“Some people were questioning who I was; I had made it clear that 100% of the proceeds were going to the family, but then I started getting emails from people wanting their money back because 100% wouldn’t go to the family.” Abramov quickly reiterated her pledge to send all the money to the family, making it clear she would cover the 7.9% in administrative costs for GoFundMe herself. It wasn’t money she had laying around; “I’m a college student and it’s just money that I worked for over the summer, and my savings and some money from my college fund.”
The fund on GoFundMe raised over $25,000 in two months, and Nora Abramov spent $1,900 for the admin fees.
Enter local artist Gerry Monaghan, also of Lansing, who heard about Abramov and thought things had gone amiss. “Here’s this person trying to do the right thing, and I just think she should be supported,” said Monaghan.
Monaghan started his own GoFundMe project, to cover the fees Abramov had paid out. After one month, he’s gotten a little over $1000 together. “When you are doing the right thing, the Universe will support you. We all want Nora to know she did the right thing by starting the Amanda Bush Family Fund,” he writes on the website.
The money for the family has been placed in an escrow account, and Abramov admits it was a tough lesson, “but a valuable one.”
Meanwhile, Abramov has been packing to go back to college, and she’s thankful to the people connecting through Monaghan’s site. “I wouldn’t change what I did,” she said. “I think the positivity is greater than the negative comments I got from people- it’s just, this wasn’t something I had thought about.”