I am sure you have heard, seen or even contributed to or started a fundraising campaign through online crowdfunding platforms such as gofundme.com and others. The use of crowdfunding has become more and more common in this digital age and if you haven’t heard of it yet, you will.
Basically it works like this. You start a campaign, tel your story, add a fundraising goal and share (as well as get others to share) your page in order to raise as much money as possible. Online viewers read your content and decide to either contribute to you or not. Easy peasy. For an instruction on how gofundme.com works, click HERE.
Now if you are thinking that the good folks at these sites are creating a platform to help people from the goodness of their heart – think again. Between the platform fee and processing fee, gofundme.com takes 7.9% of all money raised and charges an additional $0.30 per donation it receives. (For a complete pricing structure breakdown click HERE. According to FORBES In 2015, gofundme.com was valued at $600 million and expected over $100 Million in revenue in 2016.
There is a lot of money to be made from charity.
It sounds like a harsh reality but it is true.
Now before you start to jump all over me for being a cold hearted capitalist etc etc… let me say this. I donate thousands of dollars to various charities every year. I donate hundreds of staffing hours for my staff to volunteer while getting paid and sponsor so many charitable events I have lost count. I am far from anti-philanthropy. Actually I am the opposite.
That being said… in my opinion, crowdfunding has gone too far. It has become big business – making money off of the exploitation of people’s suffering and tragedies. Lots and lots of money. But even beyond the corporate side of charity, the actual campaigns themselves have become digital panhandling.
Who you give $5 to a man on the street with a sign saying, ‘Need to pay my autopac bill’ – I wouldn’t. I couldn’t even imagine anyone doing it. But apparently it is perfectly socially acceptable to start a crowdfunding program saying the exact same thing – and lining corporate pockets at the same time.
Why is this ok? Why are we as a society saying this is ok? I have seen so many discussions about this and the general consensus is ‘if you don’t want to don’t contribute’ which is definitely one way to look at it. On the other hand, if we started to actually say, ‘you know what? This isn’t a fundraising need, this is a ‘get a job and pay your own bills’ need, we don’t want to see it. Maybe less people would be standing with their hands out and more money would be going to those who actually need it.
Currently there are 908 active crowdfunding campaigns throughout Manitoba. 908. Requests for funds to send kids to camp, sports events, pay rent, cover vet bills, pay wedding expenses and fix cars – when did it become acceptable to ask strangers to pay these types of bills? When did we lose all sense of dignity and self reliance?
Perhaps if we took a step back from the ‘people can do what they want, scroll by’ and actually took a stand, those in dire need of emergency support, medical treatments and the such could get more of the attention they deserve. And perhaps with more attention and less digital panhandling we could come together as a community to provide the same help to those in need without creating billions in revenue for the corporations who are thriving on their tragedies and desperation.
Digital panhandling, digital loan sharking.
The ugly side of crowdfunding.