Stop Asking People To Fund Your Crusades
So, it seems not only has the world gone mad, but now we can crowdfund it to happen.
No more was this was brought to my attention than last week when two German Instagram influencers asked followers to help raise €10,000 -- approximately $18,000 -- to allow them the opportunity to take us on a celebration of life as they ride freely across mountains, by the sea and through metropolitans from Germany towards Africa, to show us the beauty of this planet.
“TOGETHER WE CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE,” they stated. Yes, I thought. I can see how funding their quaint ride through the mountains while I slog away at my desk to make enough income to support my family will benefit everyone. Why wouldn’t we want to fund these hard-working influencers who are dutifully raising awareness for… something…
Then there was Australian designer Dan Single, who started a campaign to raise $250,000 to pay for medical bills after falling three floors from his hotel room in Paris.
Once reportedly worth $24m, the co-founder of Ksubi jeans, who has always blithely drawn attention to his lavish lifestyle, sought donations to fund hospitals bills, rehab costs, flights, whatever, whatever. He did manage to raise $405 before a tirade of criticism caused him to remove his campaign.
Which is a shame as I’d have definitely funded a guy who owns a $6250 Gucci tuxedo over, say, starving children or the like.
And, of course, this week’s biggest nation divider -- Israel Folau, whose appeal to fund legal proceedings against Rugby Australia was kyboshed after GoFundMe decided his campaign violated its terms of service. With many outraged, the gates of hell were unleashed not only on the freedom of speech debate, but also on the question: when is it acceptable to ask for money?
When not to ask for money seems easier to answer. For instance, Dave Grohl’s self-confessed biggest fan trying to raise $35,000 USD to “purchase” Grohl so they can hang out and high five and shit. Or the rapper, B.o.B, wanting to raise $200,000 USD to prove the earth is, in fact, flat. Or your best friend's sister's boyfriend's brother's girlfriend wanting people to fund her super-rad birthday piss-up.
When is it okay to ask for money seems more difficult to answer due to the immense subjectivity of the matter. What I believe is morally or ethically justified, you may not. What you believe is a valid cause, I may not. And then the whole thing is loaded with sketchy grey areas.
Like, would I fund a mate’s skydiving wedding? Not a freaking chance.
Unless, of course, he was terminally ill. Or if he had been conscripted and wanted to give the love of his life the most memorable wedding before he had to leave for war. Or if he’d lost his first wife in a tragic accident and never believed he’d find love again. Or so on, and so forth.
What I do believe, however, is there is a wonderful ease around these kinds of crowdfunding platforms; an ease which alleviates much of the awkwardness often accompanying those asking for money, which allows everyday people in genuine need to gain financial support in times of illness, loss or tragedy.
It has also proven a beneficial platform for those driven to rally for environmental, social and political causes, as well as those in the creative industry who lack funding for festivals, events and projects deemed beneficial to the community.
The biggest downfall of platforms such as GoFundMe, however, is an apparent lack of accountability, especially when amplified by the power and reach of social media. Beyond an email address or Facebook account, there are apparently no further requisites, which raises concerns about the legitimacy of campaigns and poses concerns for the lack of answerability -- who is monitoring the return of funds should a campaign fall through or if an event is cancelled or an operation no longer viable?
Further beyond these concerns is the issue of privilege and entitlement becoming more apparent through crowdfunding appeals; the tendency for these campaigns to feed the often-narcissistic traits of Instagram influencers, therefore continuing to widen the socioeconomic divide of our country -- but sure, allow me the honour of funding your holiday (sorry, journey of spiritual awakening) while the number of those sleeping rough in Australia reaches an all-time high and women continue to be killed every week in an epidemic of domestic violence and the basic needs of children remain unmet. No worries.
The conclusion to this, I believe, is crowdfunding in itself is not a bad thing. Most people are happy to fund campaigns provided they are genuine, honest, transparent and unaggressive in their appeal. Most people are happy to support causes they feel to be beneficial on a personal, charitable or global outcome. It really comes down to the purpose and heart behind the appeal, and our own personal belief system.
But the fact is, whether you agree with crowdfunding or not, it’s a free-for-all GoFundMe world out there, which leaves anyone entitled to campaign for, well, anything. Thankfully, in return, we remain entitled to exercise our right to choose whether to donate, or not.
On that note, if you’d like to help fund my overseas holiday for my 40th birthday next year, feel free to hit me up, thx.