Friends, relatives and strangers have raised more than $2 million online to help pay medical expenses for the victims of the Boston bombing.
A website on GoFundMe.com was set up for Celeste and Sydney Corcoran, a mother and daughter from Lowell, Mass. who were both severely injured while standing at the finish line of the Boston Marathon.
Celeste lost both her legs below her knees and Sydney suffered severe shrapnel wounds.
The site, Celeste & Sydney Recovery Fund, has so-far raised more than $500,000 out of its $750,000 goal.
The campaigns are usually open for donations from friends but even complete strangers often pitch in. The organizers post photos and details of the victims recovery and, to many donors, it's an immediate way to help.
"People get angry. They want to get involved. They want to help," said Brad Damphousse, chief executive officer of GoFundMe, which is hosting Celeste and Sydney's campaign. "Crowdfunding is actually really empowering for donors. It’s a way of being part of the solution instead of smoldering about the problem."
Friends of Boston newlyweds Jessica Kensky Downes and Patrick Downes, who each lost a leg in the blasts, have raised more than $560,000 on sites GoFundMe.com and GiveForward.com
"All of us were like, 'How can we help?'" said Leslie Kelly, 56, of Pebble Beach, Calif., whose two daughters grew up with Jessica Downes, 32.
"We felt so helpless. I thought, we can’t all send flowers. I couldn’t sleep all night. I got up the next morning and started a Wells Fargo account and then got the word: You need to do something online."
Kelly said the funds will go to pay for any of the couple's medical care that is not covered by insurance.
But Ken Berger, president and chief executive of Charity Navigator, an independent, nonprofit group that evaluates charities, told NBC News that self-policing charities who are dealing with a flood of money can be ripe for problems.
"That’s part of the reason that scoundrels and thieves are prosperous in a disaster," Berger said, "because the generosity of the American people is phenomenal."
He urges people who want to donate funds to contact the The One Fund Boston Inc., the charity just formed by Boston Gov. Deval Patrick and Mayor Tom Menino.