At the request of the Obama administration, crowdfunding site Kickstarter is hosting its first humanitarian campaign, aimed at raising money to help Syrian refugees, The New York Times reports. The weeklong fundraising event for the United Nations refugee agency was launched Tuesday, and by Wednesday morning had surpassed its initial $735,000 goal, an amount the agency said would provide immediate assistance to 3,000 people.
Kickstarter, which recently reincorporated as a public-benefit corporation, is better known for helping filmmakers and inventors raise money for projects. The refugee campaign was instigated by the White House Office of Digital Strategy, which described it in a blog post as a follow-up to President Obama's plea for Americans to help Syrians fleeing the conflict in their home country. The administration said the crowdfunding effort would not replace government spending and programs addressing the refugee crisis.
A senior official with the International Committee of the Red Cross warned last week that the organization faces an "alarming" financial hole in its Middle East operations due to the conflicts in Syria and Iraq, The Guardian writes. Regional director Robert Mardini said that by late September the charity was $82 million shy of meeting needs arising from the crises but has received "positive signals" from donor governments.