Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Here's Another Dime for Yer Troubles

If you would bear with me, I would like to revisit a rant from the previous month. My post from July 14th  continues to prove relevant. In that previous post, I lamented about the new practice of using websites like “Kickstarter” and “Gofundme” to get others to pay for whatever it is we want.

The lamentations continue.

This past week I came across two requests via a group I joined through Facebook. The first was an appeal for money because a couple is being evicted from their apartment. They need money to fight the eviction. The grounds for eviction: they were growing pot in the apartment, in obvious violation of their rental agreement.

Not surprisingly, there were a few sympathetic donors.

The second involved a couple who had dreams of striking it rich making a living in the Arts & Crafts show business. They have a single product (I will not name it here) and for two of the past three years they apparently did okay. This past year, however, a variety of circumstances (rain, for instance) affected their sales, and now they claim to be out of savings and with only $13 in their checking account. They’re asking for $10,500 to cover fees and insurance related to future Arts & Crafts shows, and also to pay for food, outstanding utility bills, and even home repairs.

Nope. The treasure chest remains locked.

But the Captain did a little research into “Gofundme” to see what else people were asking for. You would not believe…

Some of the requests for funding tugged at the ol’ Captain’s heartstrings.

Not his purse strings mind you, but his heartstrings.

One woman is fighting breast cancer and needs funding to pay for medical expenses.

Another has lost her husband and needs financial support to raise her child.

Just a note: “Gofundme” does not try to verify the expressed need for funding, and does not follow up to make sure the donated funds are used in the manner for which they are requested. The website advises: “Only donate to people you personally know & trust.”

Also be aware that “Gofundme” takes 5% of each donation to cover the costs of operating the site.

Nonetheless, crowd-sourced funding is wildly popular right now.

The lawyers for the Michael Brown family (remember Ferguson, MO?) have set up a “Gofundme” site “to assist his family with costs that they will acquire as they seek justice on Michael’s behalf.” They were quick to note, “These funds will not be used for legal fees; all funds will be given to the family of Michael Brown.” The request goes on to mention “funeral and burial expenses, travel and living expenses of the parents.” In only 19 days, the fund has received pledges of $318,602 toward a $400,000 request!

Perhaps you might want to send money to a salon damaged in the recent earthquake near Napa. The “Gofundme” request is for $50,000 to pay the 12-member staff while the owner waits for the insurance to settle up. If the insurance does pay off as hoped for, the donated money will be given to “good causes that positively affect victims of the earthquake”. In three days the request has raised $4,865.

And finally, so I don’t bore you (because there are literally thousands of these), a couple in New York has a wedding coming up fast, but they have both lost their jobs. Here is their appeal: “As it stands right now it will be nearly impossible to afford this wedding and the the [sic] expenses to follow.” They are asking for $8,000. In only three hours nearly 35% of that request was covered.

Because we know it’s only a wedding if there’s a fancy dress and a big cake!

Now, the Captain has long recognized that human beings, for the most part, are naturally generous. We want to help others in need. On many of the sites listed above, comments frequently ran along this vein: “Sorry I can only donate $__; I’m currently unemployed.”

And the Church has been doing crowd-sourced funding for hundreds of years. We take up freewill offerings on Sunday mornings. We initiate an annual “Pledge Campaigns” to underwrite the Church budget, and the occasional “Capital Campaigns” to build a new Cathedral. The difference is that the Church mainly asks for donations from among its specific membership - the people who want and will benefit most from these budgets and buildings. We don’t expect strangers halfway across the world to pay for our ministries.

Okay, maybe TV preachers do...

But at the end of the day, the Captain cannot tell you how to spend your money. You earned it. It is yours to do with as you please – to spend, to save, to give away, to set on fire to light your Cuban cigar!

Although we will note that money does not just magically appear in one’s bank account. So think about this: how many hours of work did it take for you to earn that $100 you are thinking about donating toward paying for someone else to fly to Scotland? 

One hour? 

Two hours? 

At minimum wage in Kentucky, that would be 13.8 hours... or nearly two days of your life given just so someone else can realize their dreams! Is that really why you work?

Bless you!

And finally, dear readers, let me remind your generous hearts of the Captain’s own campaign to pay for his very important and urgently needed future trip to Margaritaville… which still stands at $0.