Instagram Fundraising is not a Scam

Dear Razom Community,

Thank you all for your tremendous support during this week!  Razom volunteers have been working around the clock to respond to quickly get your generous donations into the hands of the people who need it most.  Many people have asked us about the legitimacy of an Instagram fundraiser on behalf of Razom run by Plant A Tree Co (@platatreeco).   We had questions too and we will share what we have learned here.

To our surprise, no one in our team of volunteers had any prior experience with Instagram’s independent fundraising feature before the morning of February 24, 2022.  (Instagram now allows anyone with an account to launch a fundraiser on behalf of an organization.)  The first thing we ever saw about the fundraiser was an influx of questions from our followers in DMs expressing concern over whether this was a legitimate fundraiser or not.  We took these concerns very seriously, and prioritized playing it safe and acting fast in case people were being scammed.  So we acted almost immediately to block the fundraiser and investigate how much damage had been made.

It turns out we were wrong!

Every single donation that was made under this independent fundraiser will go directly into Razom’s account, albeit with a delay.  Instagram’s reporting mechanism has a built in delay so we don’t see every donation just yet.  As per Meta rules, this money will come into our bank account two weeks after the fundraiser is closed.  

We connected with both Instagram (including escalating the concern through our personal networks of Ukrainian engineers inside the company) and with Plant A Tree Co directly to be able to verify that this indeed is a legitimate fundraiser benefiting Razom.  Thank you @plantatreeco for raising awareness to their 1MM followers about our work to procure medical and tactical supplies for territorial defense forces in Ukraine, and for allowing us to discover this Instagram functionality.  We are looking forward to continuing to use this functionality as effectively as possible.  Just like you all started using facebook fundraisers for Giving Tuesday and your birthdays over the years, we’re looking forward to doing the same (and more!) via Instagram. 

We are so sorry for the confusion this has caused.  But we are grateful for how well you all look out for each other and Razom.

We take reporting to you on money raised and spent very seriously, and aside from the formal Annual Reports that we publish on our website, we’re maintaining a reporting document (to be published shortly with link) on Emergency Response that will be regularly updated with stories, fundraising status, and a summary of our procurements.

We ask that if you see someone questioning the legitimacy of this fundraiser that you send them the link to this page to educate and clarify.  Since publishing this statement, the fake warning about this fundraiser has been removed from the VOXUA site, our social media accounts have been updated, and the money raised directly from @plantatreeco’s fundraiser is hitting our account. 

We are grateful for your support.


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