A spontaneous charity drive created by a Toronto man in support of an elderly school bus monitor in upstate New York offers more proof of the power of crowdsourcing to raise money.

Max Sidorov was inspired to set up a donation drive for 68-year-old Karen Klein on the crowdfunding site Indiegogo after watching a video posted to YouTube in which high school students in Greece, N.Y., mercilessly bully her on a bus.

In the 10-minute video, the students berate Klein about her weight and looks, to the point where she begins to cry.

Sidorov, who lives in Toronto, began the campaign with a goal of raising $5,000 to buy Klein "a vacation of a lifetime!" As of Friday morning, the drive had raised over $490,000.

Here’s a look at some notable recent crowdfunding campaigns.

Caine’s Arcade

Earlier this year, the internet fell in love with Caine Monroy, a nine-year-old boy who had designed and built a fully functioning cardboard arcade in a room adjacent to his father’s auto-parts store in East L.A. While the arcade is a marvel of childish ingenuity, Caine never had a customer — that is, until the day a local filmmaker named Nirvan Mullick walked in.

Amazed by Caine’s cleverness, Mullick used social media to organize a giant event in Caine’s honour – and then filmed it.

The 10-minute documentary not only made the story viral, it inspired a scholarship fund with a goal of raising $25,000 for Caine’s post-secondary education. The campaing ended up pulling in more than $125,000. The boy’s story also inspired the Caine’s Arcade Imagination Foundation, a charity set up to support other enterprising youngsters.

TheOatmeal.com

Matthew Inman, who runs the humour site The Oatmeal, has a reputation for creating satirical cartoons that often go viral. Earlier this year, he noticed that a site called FunnyJunk.com was posting his comics without permission or credit. When Inman wrote a blog post about it, he received a letter threatening a lawsuit unless he paid FunnyJunk $20,000 in damages.

Rather than pay, Inman went to Indiegogo with the goal of raising $20,000 and giving it to National Wildlife Federation and the American Cancer Society. As of June 22, he had far surpassed his goal, raising more than $210,000. In an Indiegogo post he writes, "A lot of people have been asking what I plan to do with the extra money we raised over the initial $20,000. 100% of it is going to charity. I’m going to add 2 more charities to the list, in addition to the ACS and the NWF."

Sarah Burke

When Canadian freestyle skier Sarah Burke died from a brain injury a week after a fall during a training run in Utah in January, her family was hard hit by the grief. Because Burke hadn’t been properly insured, her family was also saddled with a bill for $200,000 from the University of Utah Hospital, where she was treated after her fall.

Michael Spencer, Burke’s agent, launched a crowdfunding effort for Burke’s family on the site GiveForward.com, which in just under two months raised more than $311,000.

Carrie Gelson

Last October, Carrie Gelson, who teaches Grade 2 at Admiral Seymour Elementary School in East Vancouver, wrote a personal blog post lamenting the situation of some of her students who were in need of basics like food, socks and shoes.

Her online letter went viral, inviting coverage from fellow bloggers as well as news media, and inspired a charity campaign that brought in thousands of clothing items as well as tens of thousands of dollars in cash.

Corrections

  • This story originally indicated that Matthew Inman planned to use Indiegogo donations to cover legal fees. His actual stated intention is to give all the donations to charity.
    Jun 22, 2012 4:33 AM ET