The intriguing art of fundraising


The other evening while catching up on some work, I turned on a few podcasts to enjoy as I typed away.

As I listened to Dave Ramsey rant about how entrepreneurial people flood his email, Facebook and Twitter accounts, begging him to retweet their message to encourage others to read about their cause, I thought about how fundraising efforts have dramatically changed in recent years.

It was interesting to hear someone my parents’ age who didn’t quite understand the new concept of “crowdfunding.” Crowdfunding is simply gathering as many people as you can and soliciting them to donate to your cause whether it is for medical expenses or even as bold request as cosmetic surgery.

I’ve written dozens of fundraising stories ranging from medical expenses to cure baby cancer to clubs and organizations raising funds for their various projects. Some were a joy to write, while others I was a bit skeptical on why they simply hadn’t planned ahead to anticipate the costs or had insurance.

As I was thinking about it, physical benefit event stories have seemed to dwindle over the years. Why?

So I took to social media and asked what everyone thought on my personal Facebook page.

One response said her family only donates online if she personally knows the family, otherwise its a few small charities around the holidays. Another said he usually prefers to donate as a participant in 5K benefit runs, bowling benefits and golf outings to help raise money. He also said he would simply donate if it was a “boring event.”

Another shared how she viewed sites like “Gofundme” as a “blessing and a curse.” While she scoffs at those who try to raise money for vacations, college tuition or a new car, she is a softie when it comes to children’s causes, victims of natural disasters and others who have lost their homes in fires.

One person said she’d rather give to a “Gofundme” cause rather than support large charitable organizations with large board of director salaries.

These answers were all very intriguing. I understand the time and effort to host a benefit is not easy, but is simply setting up an account and “throwing it out there” for donations now becoming the norm?

I did a search of Troy’s zip code at the Gofundme account and found $7694 has been raised in the last two months for causes ranging from fires, medical expenses and a dying wish to visit the beach.

And that’s just one zip code.

Ramsey was befuddled at the thought of asking complete strangers for money – online – as well as it fundraising no longer needing to be tied to an event.

In fact, GoFundme even boasts a 5-minute support guarantee with four easy steps. The GoFundMe site is popular because the funds go directly to the source, no funding limit or goal and no deadline. Yet, the site charges 7.9 percent plus 30 cents a donation for its service.

While I guess that’s not as bad as a credit card interest rate, 8 percent can add up quickly. But it’s fast and easy – just like how my generation likes it.

For my generation, it’s the easiest way to donate. We simply read a paragraph or two and either support the cause or simply pass it by. No guilty address labels, no monthly debit subscription, no quarter auction — no hassle.

I, personally, have only donated money to one GoFundMe account in recent history. The story struck a nerve and I wanted to help.

One caller phoned into the Dave Ramsey show and shared the reason she gave to a local family whom she never met. The family lost four children in a house fire and an account was set up to help with funeral costs. Dave was quite shocked to know she donated to people she never met. It was a wild concept to him. The caller said she gave $10 to the family, and he asked why.

She simply stated, “I hope that if I was to ever find myself in a similar situations, others would do the same for me.”

While this sentiment struck a cord, I strongly urge anyone who gives — whatever amount and whatever the cause — to do it with a happy heart and a little research.

“Twin” Melanie Yingst appears on Fridays in the Troy Daily News. Share your fundrasing experiences and stories at [email protected] or on Twitter @Twininnati

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