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Saving Lives, Supporting Schools and Surfing the Waves…The Most Magical, Moving and Motivating GoFundMe Campaigns of 2016

Saving Lives, Supporting Schools and Surfing the Waves…The Most Magical, Moving and Motivating GoFundMe Campaigns of 2016
17 December 2016 James Brooke

To celebrate its most successful year yet, GoFundMe, the world’s largest social fundraising platform, reveals some of the most magical, moving and motivating fundraising appeals to capture the nation’s heart in 2016.

Whether it’s saving lives, supporting schools, allowing a man with bionic legs to surf the waves, or letting a budding musician buy an extraordinary 1930 Natale Carletti viola, the site has been used to raise funds for almost everyone and everything you could possibly imagine. Campaigns on GoFundMe have raised an incredible £37 million already this year in the UK, thanks, in large part, to generous donations from the British public. Over 38,000 individuals created GoFundMe campaigns in 2016 and 876,000 people donated, making it the largest and most generous year on record.

Have you ever met someone in a wheelchair who has crossed the Indian Ocean on a catamaran or survived brain surgery fully awake? Have you ever heard of someone who rescued sea slaves, fought against sea pirates, or defied doctors by standing up after being told they would never walk again? Have you ever met someone who lost half their bodyweight and then decided to climb Kilimanjaro to help others? Well, GoFundMe met those people this year, and they were just a few of the countless amazing real-life fundraising stories to emerge from the site in 2016.

Kelsea Little, spokesperson for said: “GoFundMe has exploded in popularity in the UK this year and we expect to see the trend continue. Nearly £30M was raised in 2016, and two of the biggest top ten campaigns (site-wide) originated in the United Kingdom. (Jo Cox’s Fund and Donate4Mike).  We plan to continue making our platform the very best it can be so that more people can raise funds for the causes that are important to them.”

Some of the most magical and memorable appeals to mention include: Bruno Hansen’s amazing campaign to raise money for his new bionic legs;  Blind war veteran Paul Jacob’s 100km challenge over the Yorkshire Dales for Blind Veterans UK and an appeal to buy sensory equipment for fourteen-month-old Elijah Davies from Merseyside who was born without eyes.

Another recent memorable celebration was the wedding of Abbey Bradbury, the terminally ill bride who wanted seven bridesmaids in seven different colour dresses to reflect the colour of the rainbow; or Knickers for Dunkirk, a campaign fundraising for fresh underwear for women at the Dunkirk refugee camp in France.

The memorial fund set up in celebration and memory of MP Jo Cox, who was tragically stabbed in June, officially became the largest GoFundMe campaign in the UK after it raised over £1.9 million, which also made it the third largest in GoFundMe history.

This was followed by the award-winning Donate4Mike (2nd largest) appeal which helped save the life of Mike Brandon from Bristol after he was given days to live; Help Save Stephanie Inglis (3rd largest) a campaign for Scotland’s Judo Commonwealth silver medallist who was involved in a motorcycle accident abroad, and the recent campaign for jockey Freddy Tylicki (4th largest) who was paralysed in a fall at Kempton.

The fifth GoFundMe top spot was taken by London based Emma Houlston, who asked for donations for life-saving cancer treatment instead of presents for her wedding day, followed closely by Kevin Carey (6th largest) from Co Antrim (Northern Ireland), whose family was fundraising for cutting edge immunotherapy treatment after Kevin was diagnosed with a grade 4 brain tumour.

As well as the memorial campaign for Jo Cox, 2016 also saw the creation of heart-wrenching memorial appeals for Poppy-Mai (to build a sanctuary for terminally ill children and their families), and Hughie’s Play Park. It was also the year that saw the site chosen to create a memorial fund for murdered shopkeeper Asad Shah. And the heart-breaking campaign for Jessica Whelan went viral after her father shared an image of her experiencing extreme pain before she lost her battle to Neuroblastoma.

The crowdfunding platform also made headlines when a number of famous faces created appeals, including former-Emmerdale actress, Leah Bracknell, who was diagnosed with terminal lung cancer, and 14-year-old West-End performer Lucy-Mae Beacock (star of Matilda the Musical) who revealed she needed to raise £175k for corrective spine surgery in the US.

Olympic hopefuls also used GoFundMe to support with training and travel in preparation for the Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro and in June 2016 GoFundMe launched a hub to showcase athletes training to compete in the games. Another recent campaign saw Drew Walker from Hertfordshire fundraise for a new prosthetic racing arm after he was inspired by his school friend and four-time Olympic gold medallist Laura Trott.

Animal appeals to pull on the public’s heart-string in 2016 included the Wonky Wanda Appeal for a 15-week-old pup born with deformed front legs, Lucy The Rescue Cavalier, An Epic Horse Rescue Mission (which raised over £30k), and Complete vet care for Flame, an appeal started for a cat burnt in a fire trying to rescue her kittens.

Other inspiring campaigns in 2016 included Andrew’s Road to Recovery, which saw Andrew Bell from Durham miraculously stand after he was told he would never walk again after he broke his back in a motorcycle accident, and amputee Andy Grant who lost his leg while serving in Afghanistan beat the 10k amputee world record and became the fastest 10km amputee runner in the world!

The overseas GoFundMe giving community has also come together to support those who need, including raising more than $7.8 million for the victims of the Pulse shooting in Orlando, and the unforgettable Relief for Fidencio the paleta man campaign which trended worldwide.  The heart-felt GoFundMe appeal for the elderly ice lolly seller reached a staggering $384,260, allowing him to pay for his daughter’s funeral and his poorly wife’s medical bills which sent a warm glow of goodwill around the world!


For further press information or more campaign examples, please contact:
Jane Eggleton/Natalie Garland
T: +44 (0)20 3440 8925 / 8924
E: [email protected]

About GoFundMe
GoFundMe was launched on 10 May 2010 and has quickly become the world’s most popular fundraising website for personal causes and life events, raising £2.5 billion since launch!

GoFundMe provides an ideal platform for people to organise their own campaigns to raise money and invite those in their community to support their fundraising. People can use GoFundMe to raise money for themselves, a friend or loved one during life’s important moments. They can also share their campaign with built-in connections via Facebook, Twitter, and email.

People can use GoFundMe for things like medical expenses, education costs, volunteer programmes, youth sports, funerals & memorials – even animals and pets.

For more information, or to set up a fundraising page, visit or follow GoFundMe on Twitter or Facebook.

Top 10 most-successful campaigns in 2016 (UK):

  1. Jo Cox’s Fund
  2. Donate4Mike
  3. Help Save Stephanie Inglis
  4. Freddy Tylicki
  5. Emma’s Last Chance to Beat Cancer
  6. Kevin’s Fight Against Brain Tumour
  7. Seb back to the UK for treatment
  8. Hayleys Cancer Treatment Fund
  9. matchthefineforpalestine
  10. Charlies chance