Have you heard of crowdfunding? It’s becoming an increasingly popular way for an individual or small group of individuals to raise funds to achieve a goal. The financing comes from, as the name suggests, an entire crowd of people who each make small contributions. The idea is that a member of the crowd only needs to finance a tiny fraction of the overall project if the whole crowd is made up of a mass amount of people.
This, of course, is why the Internet makes the ideal crowdfunding platform. Anyone who wants to finance an idea, goal, or initiative can harness the giving power of millions, billions of people via a crowdfunding site.
Kickstarter is an amazing example of great crowdfunding at work. This platform has the specific mission of bringing creative endeavors to life. The crowd – in this case, the average web user – has the power to search through a multitude of campaigns, and they can donate to fund the ones that appeal to them.
And then there are platforms like GoFundMe, which is pretty much totally free of restrictions and is donation-based. This site brands itself as the crowdfunding platform for “everyone,” and they take that mission statement seriously. Anyone, for just about any reason, can set up a campaign on GoFundMe and ask for donations to finance their cause – even if that cause is themselves.
And that donation based part? It means that funders are simply making a donation to a cause of their choice. They don’t get anything tangible in return (whereas on Kickstarter, funders receive various products or services that the creative campaign is looking to launch, based on the amount of their donation). While this is fine and par-for-the-course for charitable organizations, it starts getting interesting when you start looking at individuals who have set up campaigns on the platform who are exactly that – individuals.
You can head over to GoFundMe right now and set up a campaign to finance yourself. As in, you get set up, present your case as to why you need funds, people choose to donate, and if someone does, that is cash in your pocket. And that’s exactly what someone I know recently did.
Using GoFundMe for Personal Expenses
This individual set up an account for the purpose of financing travel expenses. According to their GoFundMe campaign info, they are wanting to travel to various countries because they want to do so while they are young and before “life gets in the way.”
To add some clarity to the situation, this individual is in good health, has a college degree and a full-time job, and regularly enjoys spending time with friends at various events and engaging in all sorts of exciting activities. This person recently went on a week-long cruise, as well.
There is absolutely nothing wrong or illegal with using GoFundMe to seek donations to fund your travels or other personal expenses. It’s up to the crowd to decide if the campaign organizer has a cause that is worthy of a donation. The platform even allows users to submit questions to the founder if further information is needed before a donation is submitted.
GoFundMe is not some sort of scam site that rips people off – and I don’t think my acquaintance who is using the platform is conning anyone, either. The platform is clear about the fact that they welcome everyone with various needs for financing to use the site. My acquaintance has also been extremely clear about their intentions and why they are requesting donations.
Asking Others to Fund Your Travels – or Asking for Handouts?
But to me, that doesn’t make it “right.” I know there’s nothing wrong with using the tools that are available to you to get what you want – but to me, this is simply asking for a handout.
To me, you’re asking for a handout when you have the ability to handle something yourself.. but you’d rather let someone else do the hard work to make it happen, and then hand you the fruits of their labor. I have absolutely no problem with helping someone who is truly in need. But I look at this situation and I roll my eyes. And then I get mad.
This is another example of a Millennial and a need for instant gratification. The campaign’s goal is $1,000. How on earth could you feel good about asking other people for their money to fund your travel experiences, when you could save $100 a month and have the amount you’re asking for in less than a year? Or save $250 by cutting trips to the bars, brunches on Sunday, going to events with costly ticket prices, and other expenses that must seem frivolous compared to the adventure that is awaiting you in your travels, and it would only take you four months until you have the amount you need.
Am I just bitter? Maybe. Would I be jealous if this campaign actually gets funded, and this individual is handed $1,000 just for asking for money from their network? Sure.
I worked extremely hard to save up enough money to take our recent big trip overseas. Because we had multiple financial goals we were working toward – building an emergency fund, investing, traveling – it took us three years to get to the point where we felt comfortable with where we were financially to take a big trip abroad.
We live frugally so that we can make our big goals into realities. We don’t buy everything we want when we want it – and then expect someone else to finance a goal or idea when the cost is greater than what we have between paychecks.
Maybe this is simply a difference in taste and philosophy. What I find tacky may be perfectly acceptable to other people. What I find acceptable may be completely classless to someone else.
But then again, maybe I’m not nuts. Maybe I have a point.
The campaign set up by my acquaintance for the purpose of raising money to fund a trip around the world has been up for weeks now. $0 has been donated.
What do you think – would you ever turn to your network to fund your travels or other personal expenses? Is this a brilliant way to leverage tools available to you, or is this simply a new way of asking for handouts?