Sacked Wallaby Israel Folau has thanked his supporters for edging his fighting fund towards the $2 million mark as comedian Magda Szubanski teamed up with religious and community leaders to launch an "alternative" fundraising effort.
Folau said he was humbled by the $1.8 million in donations that had poured in since the launch of his Australian Christian Lobby-backed campaign on Tuesday. He said GoFundMe's decision to shut down his original fundraising page had highlighted the importance of his case.
"To those who have criticised me, I bear no ill will towards you. You have every right to express your own beliefs and opinions. To the thousands of you who donated to my GoFundMe campaign, I am forever grateful," he posted on Instagram.
"GoFundMes decision to shut down my campaign proves the importance of my case; whether you share my faith or believe in my right to express it, attempts to sanction what we believe is a threat to all Australians."
By just after 1pm on Wednesday the fundraising drive, which the charity watchdog the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission (ACNC) has been asked to investigate, had surged past $1.8 million.
But it also had a challenger, the GoFundMe-hosted For Love campaign led by Szubanski, along with Anglican priest Father Rod Bower, Diversity Council of Australia director Mariam Veiszadeh and others.
The campaign had raised $138,720 of its $500,000 goal, 90 per cent of which will go to the Children's Cancer Foundation and 10 per cent of which will go Twenty10, a charity that provides health and legal services to people of diverse sexuality and gender identities.
"In response to Israel Folau, we are not gonna argue or fight. We are gonna try and show a better way," Szubanski said.
"A group of Christian, Jewish, Muslim, atheist, straight, LGBTQI friends have come together to start a GoFundMe campaign. Lets show that there are many of us who wish to use faith – or even no faith – to unite us rather than divide."
Folau thanked the ACL, which kicked off his new campaign with a $100,000 donation on Tuesday.
"I am incredibly thankful for the Australian Christian Lobby, which has not only come to my defence in the media, but generously established a website to receive donations on my behalf," he said.