Friday, August 07, 2015

GoFundMe, why don’t you?

I must confess to a new addiction: grazing around on GoFundMe to see what folks are looking for.

Some of the stories are heart-breaking: sick babies whose parents need to give up their jobs to move themselves to a place where those kiddos can get treatment; loving dads killed by drunk drivers; the poor community that wants to get instruments for their band kids; adorable pooches who need surgery; scholarship and loan money that doesn’t cover the entire nut for the student who’s the first in the family to have a shot at college; a touching, do-good memorial set up to honor someone who just died. I saw a sweet one recently where some “kids” set up a page as a tribute for their mother’s 90th birthday, asking folks to contribute to her favorite charity.
Really, I love the idea of a 21st century rent-party, an online “time” (as they call it around here), in which the hat can get passed a lot further than it could when you could count on only those nearest and/or dearest to you to help out. And the hat gets passed further still if, in your misfortune, you’re fortunate enough to make it into the national news.

I’m always a bit amazed when some of the “good causes” take off (with or without the national exposure), while some that seem equally worthy (to me at least) seem to die on the vine.

In any case, when it comes to the “good causes,” I’m trying no to be too judgmental about the ones that seem to have been entirely avoidable if someone had exercised a scintilla of common sense or restraint. Hey, we all do boneheaded things on occasion, and a good many of us could do with a bail out now and again.

But what really amazes me is not the “good causes” – well funded or not - but what can only be called, more or less, the “greed causes” and the “moi causes.”

Having buried my husband just last year, I know that last rites don’t come cheap. Even if you don’t have to spring for a casket and plot, it can add up. The average cost of a funeral in the US is between $7K and $10K, and I get that a lot of people don’t have that in their cookie jar. So when people try to raise money to defray funeral expenses, I’m good with it. But when they’re looking to raise $20K or $25K for a really big send off, I have to ask myself, really? Yes, it might be nice to get mom a $5,000 casket, but if you can only afford the Boot Hill pine box for $250, well, dead is dead. And dad might have loved a really fancy party after the funeral, but if you can’t afford the sit down in the nice restaurant, what’s wrong with coffee and donuts in the church hall?

Looking for a ton of money to put on a funeral strikes me as a bit greedy.

Maybe the ones who’re after $20 or $25K have a lot of out of town relatives they want to fly in.

Honestly, I don’t know why this bugs me – especially given that the folks looking to float the expensive funerals seldom make anywhere near their goal. (Not always the case, but most of the ones I’ve seen come up short.)

But those looking to cover funeral costs do have grief in their defense, and a lot of the pages seem to be set up by someone who sincerely wants to “do something” to help out friends or family members in a real time of crisis and need.

It’s the pure “moi causes” that truly astound me.

Yes, I see that you can only afford to invite 80 guests to your wedding, so you’re trying to shake the trees for enough to add another 20 or 40 friends. Well, I wouldn’t want to see you charge your guests, but – see above – there’s always coffee and donuts in the church hall. Or you can ask everyone to bring a tray of lasagna or a batch of brownies.

Then there’s the woman who wants help so that, on her wedding day, she can be treated like a princess for once in her life.

Well, wouldn’t we all. But sometimes we have to settle for the plastic tiara, rather than start rattling the tin cup for $10K.

How can anyone expect strangers to help them pay for their dream weddings?

Maybe the “moi” folks are really just looking for money from friends and family, and GoFundMe is convenient. (It’s also public, so we can whether grammy put a $5 or a $50 in the envelope…)

My favorites are the ones I’ve seen where college students want help to fund a semester abroad. Or their “dream” summer trip. Sorry, with luck, London will still be there in a few years after you save up.

At least I haven’t seen anyone yet ballsy enough to ask for help with their kitchen reno. (Hmmmmm.)

Okay, now that I’ve vented my spleen a bit, I will have to further confess that, while I have rarely opened my wallet to anything or anyone on GoFundMe, I do fantasize about being able to top off the requests of the “good causes” that manage to tug at my heart. So the bullied boy can go to choir school. So the cutie-pie lab can get a leg prosthesis. So the woman who works with the poor can replace the car a tree just crashed down on…

Now that would be fun.

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