How a cruise line passenger raised $240,000 for displaced workers during the pandemic

How a cruise line passenger raised $240,000 for displaced workers during the pandemic

moneycorp quickly got to work to send these donations to the crew members around the world. 

The GoFundMe campaign was born.

It’s not every day that someone fundraises close to a quarter of a million dollars, but that’s exactly what happened when Steve Randall, a moneycorp client, heard the news that Silversea Cruises had to suddenly stop operations at the start of the pandemic, forcing the crew to lose their income.

Steve has been a long-time passenger of the Silversea Cruise Line. Year after year, he and his wife would attend the 112-day voyage across more than 30 countries around the world. Steve, shocked by the news, took it upon himself to create a GoFundMe campaign to help raise money to support the cruise line staff that became his family over the 21 years sailing together. To his surprise, in just the first 6 hours he was able to raise $10,000 and before he knew it he surpassed his goal of $80,000. Over just a few months, he has now successfully raised $240,000 to support the displaced crew. With donations constantly flooding in from other loyal Silversea passengers, Steve had one problem on his hands: how would he send the money internationally to each of the crew members, quickly and cost-effectively?  

Q: What inspired you to create the GoFundMe fundraiser for the Silversea crew? 

Having sailed with Silversea since 2000, my wife Janet and I know all too well that these devoted men and women are the reason so many passengers keep coming back. Having had our world cruise prematurely terminated in March 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic, we were well aware the crewmembers were without pay and with an uncertain future. That is where the idea of a GoFundMe campaign was born.

Q: Why did you decide to partner with an FX specialist instead of using your current bank? 

FX is the most important factor in our worldwide donations campaign because most crew members do not have a US dollar account. Speed in getting these donations out to beneficiaries is so important as these beneficiaries were desperate for financial assistance. 

My existing banking relationship has a nice portal for making international FX payments but they must be done one at a time and with no special characters. As the number of donations grew I was challenged to get these individual transfers out quickly. On my best day, working from 9 AM to 5 PM allowed me to only get out 20 transfers. It slowed up the process considerably. Since donations were coming in quickly, I needed to be able to upload a batch of payments as soon and as often as I received the banking information of each beneficiary from Silversea Cruises Ltd. Although my existing banking relationship was strong they had previously discontinued allowing uploading of batched individual payments. A search for an FX specialist who could provide this service led me down many rabbit holes for over a month.

Finding moneycorp to do this benefited our campaign in several ways. The FX rate was superior to what was offered at my major US bank. The ability to submit the batch list as soon as I received it from Silversea Cruises allowed me to upload it quickly. Most importantly, the online platform immediately identified any problems, such as invalid BIC Codes, without impacting the other payments. I only wish I had found moneycorp months before!

“Speed in getting these donations out to beneficiaries is so important as these beneficiaries were desperate for financial assistance”.

Q: How has working with moneycorp benefited your GoFundMe campaign? 

Having switched to moneycorp I literally have my life back! I can concentrate on what I do best – planning effective marketing strategies for the fundraiser. The entire moneycorp organization has been one of the most professional groups of people I’ve ever dealt with in the financial community. Communication between team members is easy and responses are nearly immediate. In particular, I want to extend a special thanks to Colette Miller, Director of Payment Solutions Support; Andrej Golubev, payment processing in London; and Kyle Reny, Head of Payment solution Sales in North America who navigated me through the vetting process to open an account. 

Q: Tell me about your newest GoFundMe campaign for the Silversea crew in India? 

Although the majority of the Silversea crew are from the Philippines, there are a good many from India. When word of the resurgence of COVID-19 in India became known I felt we must start a special campaign to send donations to the crew in India. I launched a new marketing campaign on our private Silversea Passengers Facebook page and in about one week we raised a significant amount to send donations to many of the crew in India.

Q: How far can a $250 donation go in India?

All donations to crew members have been $250 converted by moneycorp to the local currency (in excess of 18,300 Rupees). As compared to the US, rent prices in India are 85% lower, restaurant prices are 75% lower, and grocery prices are 64% lower. For example, a donation of $250 covers a good portion of monthly rent for an average apartment and train tickets.

Looking at it in terms of the FX provided through moneycorp, $250USD converts to over 18,000 Rupees and can buy the following:

  • A gallon of milk – 191 Rupees
  • 1-dozen eggs – 68 Rupees
  • Monthly bus pass – 700 Rupees
  • Internet for an entire month – 800 Rupees
  • A six-day supply of cold medicine like Tylenol – 110 Rupees
  • 1 Pair of Nike Running Shoes (Mid-Range) – 3,500 Rupees
  • Four rolls of toilet paper – 140 Rupees

Q: Can you tell me about one of the largest donations you’ve received so far? 

The largest individual donation has been $5000. In fact, one loyal Silversea passenger that I personally know contributed $5000 twice. Another contributed $5000 and wished to remain anonymous as the names of all donors are available to see on our campaign’s GoFundMe website. However, the absolute largest donation of $70,000 was a corporate donation made to us directly by Silversea Cruises Ltd. as a matching donation in January to funds raised at that time.

Q: Have there been any aspects of this experience you’ve enjoyed? 

Since our GoFundMe campaign was not directed towards the general public, but targeted toward the uniquely extraordinary group of past passengers, we had no idea of the response. Our first shock was that within the first 6-hours of launching our campaign we raised $10,000. As a strategic marketing guy, it was one of the most satisfying experiences to use these skills to constantly create new marketing campaigns to stimulate donations. But with all of that, the most enjoyable thing has been to have received a tremendous amount of text messages thanking us for this effort, and not just from people that have received aid, as well as being connected and reconnected to the hundreds of loyal Silversea passengers.

For more information or to donate to the Silversea GoFundMe, click here

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