Tuesday, July 21, 2015

The Problem with Crowdfunding

By Kevin Hunsperger
@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter
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Let me begin by saying that it's not my intent to pick on anyone who uses or donates to crowdfunding sites like GoFundMe or KickStarter.  These sites are great ways for people in need to raise money for whatever they deem necessary.  It's up to the public to decide if they want to help.  But recent campaigns have made me want to share "My 1-2-3 Cents" on why I feel disheartened by the sites.

Photo courtesy: WWE
Former WWE Superstar Virgil played "The Million Dollar Man" Ted DiBiase's bodyguard in the 1980's, before breaking free and having a brief run on his own. Now, some 25 years later, the man behind that gimmick hopes to become THE real Million Dollar Man with a GoFundMe page.  To date though, Virgil has only raised $135 and a lot of criticism online.  

Potato salad
Zach Brown
I'm not bashing the guy.  Honestly, it's not a bad idea and goes to show that anyone can set up a site and find some people who are willing to donate.  The other example that I want to address is the guy who raised $55,000 in a joke KickStarter fund to make potato salad.  But to be fair, Zach "Danger" Brown ended up having a community wide potato salad party and teamed up with other groups to help the hungry.  But the original purpose of the page was to raise ten bucks to buy his ingredients.  Thousands pitched in much more than that.

Ayden Bell & Sheamsu
On the flip side of the coin, I did a story about a little boy in West Frankfort, Illinois who is battling cancer.  Last year he got to meet his favorite WWE Superstar Sheamus, thanks to the folks at the Make-a-Wish Foundation.  But the family needed help with medical expenses and had a GoFundMe page set up for those purposes.  When it was up and running it had only raised a few hundred dollars, a long way off from the $20,000 goal. 

Again, I'm not judging people for making the donations they do, but I think it's sad that a boy fighting for his life can't get the same level of support as a man who wanted to make a bowl of potato salad.  I have donated to crowdfunding sites in the past, including one for WWE legend Kamala.  The wrestler lost both of his legs due to high blood pressure and diabetes.  The money I donated went to help pay for the publishing of his book "Kamala Speaks."  I got a "reward" of a t-shirt, but I also made the pledge because by getting that book on store shelves, Kamala would be able to get an income since he can no longer wrestle.  Others may find that a silly reason to give.

It's a free country.  We can give to whom we deem worthy of our hard earned money. I just hope that after reading this, people will use crowdfunding sites for legitimate purposes and not the latest "get rich quick" scheme.  And for those who donate, consider giving to a family or a cause in need in your community.

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