What started as a crowdfunding site to help Kiwis in need is now increasingly being used to feed people's appetite for the finer things in life.

Givealittle raised more than $21 million in donations in 2016 to help numerous good causes including families burgled after the Kaikoura earthquake, a 5-year-old battling terminal cancer and giving back to volunteer firefighters who battled the Port Hills fires.

But at the other end of the spectrum, some of that money funded lost engagement rings, glitzy birthday presents, honeymoons and first homes, questioning whether the concept has jumped the shark.

One young Kiwi is aiming to raise $5000 on Givealittle to hire a venue - namely a boat - in lieu of gifts, to celebrate turning 21.


"So if a gift is on your mind a contribution would be kind, it will help more then words can say to celebrate my special day. Money cannot buy happiness but I can hire a boat and that's pretty close so why knot? [sic]" one woman wrote on her Givealittle page.

The page has been active for a month and has raised $60 according to the site.

Another woman set up a Givealittle page last year after losing her engagement ring.

"When I lost my engagement ring I looked everywhere," she said, explaining she was saddened by the loss and could not afford to replace it.

"I just want to get the same ring and pretend like I never lost the first one."

Then there are the numerous "honeymoon fund", pages asking wedding guests to donate money towards honeymoons in Hawaii, Rarotonga and Vietnam instead of a wedding gift.

One honeymoon fund, set up by a Hawke's Bay couple, raised $4000 from 28 donors.

Givealittle communications adviser Michael Wood said pages set up to fund people's whims are far and few between compared to the number aimed at raising money for those affected by illness, death or disaster.

"We aren't in a position to tell people what they can and can't raise money for.

"We are a neutral platform. We give you the opportunity to promote your cause or interest. At the end of the day the page succeeds or fails on how the crowd sees it. A lot of people will not donate if they don't think it's a worthy cause."

Every Givealittle page goes through a moderation process to ensure it meets the company's terms and conditions and that the creator and cause being donated to are legitimate.

Illegal or defamatory pages and content are banned.

Fundraising Institute of New Zealand (FINZ) CEO David Irving said Givealittle pages only present an issue if people are dishonest about the cause they are seeking donations for.

"There is nothing unethical about someone putting a non-charity cause on Givealittle as long as they are clear about what they are doing. If they pretend they are a charity and they are not, then it is an issue.

"Pages for a party or holiday I would hope are fairly limited in their support. The most successful pages on sites like Givealittle have a real cause or story to tell which is why people support them."

More than half of the $38m donated to Givealittle causes since 2012, the year it was purchased by telco Spark, was donated in 2016. Donors forked out $4m in February 2016 alone.

The average amount each person donated on Givealittle in 2016 was $72.

Donations received:
2012: $876,559
2013: $4,322,211
2014: $12,286,026
2015: $20,360,625
2016: $21,257,997