Author Topic: GoFundMe as "Charity" -- Enabler of Poor Choices or Necessary?  (Read 815 times)

DoubleDown

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GoFundMe as "Charity" -- Enabler of Poor Choices or Necessary?
« on: November 05, 2017, 10:13:19 AM »
What do you think of what seems to me, nowadays, to be an inevitable follow-on to a tragedy: Setting up a "GoFundMe" or similar platform to raise funds for the victims or their families? Did this always happen before at a local level, just more privately like connecting money in a bucket or envelope, since it was not broadcast via social media? I'm talking about cases where someone's house burns down, they get a horrible disease or injury, they are killed, etc., and then a GoFundMe drive is launched to raise funds for rebuilding the house, paying for medical expenses, funeral expenses, and so on.

It seems that in a non-trivial number of cases I see, the people in question are suffering from some combination of actual tragedy compounded by poor decision-making. For example, one thing I frequently see is that the people in question did not have insurance. Or any savings to meet completely foreseeable, potential problems. So, yes, it completely sucks their house burned down or they got sick, but's what with not having insurance?

I've never been hit personally with any requests, so I'm not sure how I'd react if someone I knew closely launched something like this. I suppose for most of us it would be a case-by-case basis on deciding whether or not to contribute?

Plus these things seem really ripe for abuse. Besides the possibility of "taking advantage" in a tragedy, some are just outright frauds. In my city just last week, there was a real tragedy and then some fraudsters completely unconnected to the victim launched a fund drive in the victim's name. How would you know if something was legitimate or where the funds go?
 
So what do you think, has anyone ever donated to such requests or would you? Is the advent of these fund-raising platforms eroding personal responsibility?
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Chesleygirl

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Re: GoFundMe as "Charity" -- Enabler of Poor Choices or Necessary?
« Reply #1 on: November 05, 2017, 12:19:02 PM »
I personally know two people who did a Go Fund Me to raise money to publish a book they wrote.  I declined to pitch in money for that.

I can empathize with people who truly cannot afford health insurance. I was once in that situation so I'm not going to judge them about that.

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BudgetSlasher

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Re: GoFundMe as "Charity" -- Enabler of Poor Choices or Necessary?
« Reply #3 on: November 05, 2017, 06:09:57 PM »
Personally this is how I feel about gofundmes. But before I get started, yes I agree it is ripe for abuse when complete stranger's are involved.

Now, for the most part I view it as a result of the evolution of our social systems combined with a seeming affinity for being more open (some might call it over sharing or erosion of privacy). In today's digital age, many have transitioned part or most of their social network online; friends that might have been lost not-that-many-years ago due to a move and long distance calling rates are now easily kept through online communication/transitioned to an online friend. I also feel like their is less of a perceived social stigma regarding financial suffering, regardless of the cause then perhaps there used to be.

So to get back to your question, yes I think a good bit of this used to be local, be it an organization such as a Church or asking a good friend for help; but now with a larger social networks coordinated online as the openness of many users, has likely simply revealed what has, to one extent or another, been there all along.

Again, this is just my perception, but it seems like new tools applied to old problems.

SwordGuy

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Re: GoFundMe as "Charity" -- Enabler of Poor Choices or Necessary?
« Reply #4 on: November 05, 2017, 06:41:39 PM »
There was a period of 5 years in my life when my wife and I did not have health insurance.

Would have been nice to have.  We wanted to have it.   We knew it would be wise to have it.

But we were living at 1/3 median family income and paying child support, too.   

That kind of money just wasn't available.   

We just got lucky that we could afford insurance before something bad happened to us.

******************

On the other hand, I've seen several "Go Fund Me" pleas from people I know around the south in the historical recreation club I'm in.    They sure seemed like they had a ton of money to us back when we were poor.   And yet now they don't.
From the evidence presented the problem appeared to be that we had different priorities.

They prioritized being important in a made-up society in a club and that's where their considerable (to us) resources went.

We prioritized not being poor and setting aside money for a rainy day - ours or our mentally handicapped daughter's."

So, no, I didn't contribute.   Choices have consequences.

Warlord1986

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Re: GoFundMe as "Charity" -- Enabler of Poor Choices or Necessary?
« Reply #5 on: November 06, 2017, 09:18:18 AM »
Timely thread. I just donated to an old friend's GFM plea not long ago. We actually dated for a while in high school/college. We broke up because he made stupid choices and I decided my life wouldn't go in that direction.

He's a complete moron. Most of what he posts on FB are how BLM and communists are ruining the country and Trump got elected because the people are sick of this stuff, and how he didn't come from money he worked for everything he has, blah blah blah. His mother can't (as in, physically can't) work, his brother won't work, and he is supporting both of them.

Ten years ago he turned down a chance to join the Army. They offered him any job he wanted and a sign-on bonus. He turned down an apprenticeship at the shipyard. He missed the deadline to enroll at the community college. Then he got arrested for stupid shit at the library at an age where we were a little too old for stupid shit. I dunno what he's been doing for the last ten years. Not making good life choices, that's for damn sure. Poor decisions were made at every opportunity.

But his mother has some genuine health problems. He works low wage jobs. His brother is a bum. His father has been out of the picture for decades (and I gather the man was violent). He had very few advantages growing up, certainly nothing like the ones I had. His posts on my page are nothing short of pleas for help, and he's admitted to being depressed.

He's a moron, yeah, but even the morons of the world need help sometimes. I gave him $100. Before I donated I worried about subsidizing bad choices and enabling and all that. Then I realized that if I'm looking for excuses not to help an old friend who is clearly going through a rough patch then I'm not doing my religion right. The anxiety stopped once I donated.

I'm an upper middle class white woman. I have no space to judge anyone, especially not someone who got handed a shit sandwich in life and doesn't have insurance  and savings from low wage jobs.

You're right about these things being ripe for abuse. I wouldn't have donated if I didn't know him personally.

ixtap

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Re: GoFundMe as "Charity" -- Enabler of Poor Choices or Necessary?
« Reply #6 on: November 06, 2017, 09:25:42 AM »
If I know the person well enough to donate, I send them money directly, rather than paying the fees. Why doesn't someone make a non profit that only charges enough fees to keep the server up, pay the employees and deal with the banks. Why is everything for profit?

Proud Foot

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Re: GoFundMe as "Charity" -- Enabler of Poor Choices or Necessary?
« Reply #7 on: November 06, 2017, 10:48:06 AM »
If I know the person well enough to donate, I send them money directly, rather than paying the fees. Why doesn't someone make a non profit that only charges enough fees to keep the server up, pay the employees and deal with the banks. Why is everything for profit?

It's all with the requirements for non-profits and what is considered a charitable contribution. Of course just because a company is not classified as a non profit does not mean it cannot operate with the mindset not maximizing profit.

Chesleygirl

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Re: GoFundMe as "Charity" -- Enabler of Poor Choices or Necessary?
« Reply #8 on: November 06, 2017, 11:12:23 AM »
If one of my children needed an organ transplant or had some critical health problem, I'd set up a Go Fund Me, ASAP, with no guilt, shame, apologies or regrets. 


DoubleDown

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Re: GoFundMe as "Charity" -- Enabler of Poor Choices or Necessary?
« Reply #9 on: November 06, 2017, 03:24:57 PM »
If one of my children needed an organ transplant or had some critical health problem, I'd set up a Go Fund Me, ASAP, with no guilt, shame, apologies or regrets.

Yeah, me too, if we needed the financial help and if there were not already established programs set up to help in those kinds of cases.

At the same time, it seems these requests just reflexively go up the instant some crisis strikes. I wonder to myself (after seeing it in the news, for example), did these people even attempt to see what public assistance programs might already be available? Or, there are many situations that were definitely foreseeable, such as people living in known flood plains, along rivers like the Mississippi, etc., they don't purchase flood insurance, then their house floods after a rainstorm (duh), then they set up a GoFundMe page to replace their house and belongings. It is these kinds of cases where I wonder if it steps across the line of taking advantage of others' charity because of poor choices. Or, if people helping in that situation just enable more poor choices (for example, simply replacing their belongings in the same flood-prone house and still not purchasing insurance).
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Dave1442397

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Re: GoFundMe as "Charity" -- Enabler of Poor Choices or Necessary?
« Reply #10 on: November 07, 2017, 06:50:34 AM »
If I know the person well enough to donate, I send them money directly, rather than paying the fees. Why doesn't someone make a non profit that only charges enough fees to keep the server up, pay the employees and deal with the banks. Why is everything for profit?

One of my cycling buddies had a bad crash this year that has left him in a wheelchair. Someone set up an account with YouCaring, which I hadn't heard of before. When you donate, you tell them how much is to go to the recipient, and then add extra to cover their expenses, but only if you want to.

I'm sure he had insurance, but it doesn't cover the alterations needed for wheelchair access in his house, etc.

https://www.youcaring.com/joetete-948409?fb_action_ids=10214145246055939%2C1804562826225169%2C10214588817303805&fb_action_types=youcaringcom%3Adonate

Cpa Cat

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Re: GoFundMe as "Charity" -- Enabler of Poor Choices or Necessary?
« Reply #11 on: November 07, 2017, 07:53:45 AM »
I throw small donations at school-activity fundraisers here and there, but mostly reserve my donations for legitimate charities.


There was one nearby where a toddler died because the child had unsupervised access to a gun. Within 24 hours, the parents had a GoFundMe up. It felt wrong to me. I understand that the baby needs a funeral, but these people basically killed their kid through negligence and now they want thousands of dollars from the community? But other people might not have an issue with that, because at the end of the day a baby died in an accident.

Another one that was known to me personally spent $25,000 on a family member's funeral, but also had a GoFundMe to raise money for his kids. And maybe I should think about those things as two separate pools of money, but I don't. I think that if there was $25,000 to apply from direct family members, then they should budget the funeral appropriately and ask the community for less.

But maybe I'm in the wrong here. I'm willing to admit it. Perhaps I'm just lacking in compassion. I view reaching out to your community as a safety net. When really bad things happen and you truly need help, you are able to reach out the take what you need from your community. It just seems to me that the sheer number of GoFundMe's out there go beyond that. Something bad happened, so up pops a GoFundMe, regardless of need. Someone wants something, so up pops a GoFundMe, regardless of need. To me, it makes it difficult to pick out the people who are truly worthy of community help.

Chesleygirl

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Re: GoFundMe as "Charity" -- Enabler of Poor Choices or Necessary?
« Reply #12 on: November 08, 2017, 06:46:12 PM »
Another one that was known to me personally spent $25,000 on a family member's funeral, but also had a GoFundMe to raise money for his kids. And maybe I should think about those things as two separate pools of money, but I don't. I think that if there was $25,000 to apply from direct family members, then they should budget the funeral appropriately and ask the community for less.


25K is on the upper range for a funeral, but I'm assuming that includes the burial fees too.