See the data behind our #NoDAPLdollars investigation

Millions of dollars were raised on GoFundMe around the Dakota Access Pipeline protests. What happened to it?


Two years ago, protests over the Dakota Access Pipeline began. The country watched thousands of demonstrators travel from every corner, many of them campaigning for donations on crowdfunding platforms like GoFundMe. Millions of dollars poured into online donations, and when camps were dismantled and protesters made their long journeys back home, we began to wonder what happened to that money.

That question, raised by Tristan Ahtone, contributing editor on our tribal affairs desk, sparked this investigation. To find an answer, High Country News waded through hundreds of various efforts and found that there are few safeguards for online donors and little accountability for how that money is eventually spent. This investigation focuses on one group that benefited from the Standing Rock Sioux’s cause for the gain of just a few of its leaders: Veterans Stand. 

Over the course of a year, Veterans Stand raised more than $1.4 million before spectacularly collapsing. Much of that money remains unaccounted for.  In the course of a nine-month investigation, HCN compiled publicly available data from GoFundMe and examined nearly 250 campaigns, each of which raised at least $3,000 for causes related to the Dakota Access Pipeline. Altogether, more than 138,000 people donated nearly $8 million. Many of those campaigns accepted money without necessarily offering accountability, either to their donors or to the causes they claimed to represent.

Here we make that data available. For our investigation, we compiled data on many charities. Veterans Stand was just one of them — and many more stories wait to be written. See the data below, or download here.

Note: This story has been updated to clarify that the data includes a breadth of GoFundMe fundraising efforts, including those that were legitimate campaigns. High Country News has not investigated all of the campaigns listed in this spreadsheet. 

Paige Blankenbuehler is an assistant editor for High Country News. 

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