Ha! Just kidding. That happens like every week, at the cash-only bar. People my age are terrible at carrying cash. (I’ve been bad lately myself, but that’s mostly because everything higher in denomination than my laundry quarters went to the IRS last month. Maybe they targeted me illegally for making political statements on my blog, HEYO!)
Anyway, the odd thing was not that people hit me up for money, but that it came by way of a Kickstarter knock-off crowd-funding site of some sort. I’d never run across this particular site before, but the idea was roughly the same as Kickstarter: the user posts a target fundraising goal and a description of their project, and people give small personal donations toward the overall goal. Or don’t give, as the case may be.
Only it wasn’t a project.
It was a road trip, for which these friends wanted some gas-and-food money. A pretty good chunk of it, as it turns out — multiple thousands, not to get too specific. Enough to house you for half a year if you’re not too picky about where you live and how often you get stabbed, let’s put it that way.
I’ve been having an odd time trying to decide how I feel about this tactic.
It’s not particularly offensive, in any tangible way. It’s a little pushy, in the way that asking for money always is, but it’s fairly low-key pushing. You can always ignore the link, or click on it, shrug, and walk away, and no one will ever be the wiser. An in-person “hey, can you spare $20 for gas when we go out west this summer?” is much more aggressive, and people have been doing that for generations.
On the other hand, it’s also less effort and personal investment for the askers. Coming to someone hat in hand requires you to swallow a lot of pride. It’s a measure of desperation — is whatever you need the money for really worth the humiliation of being a beggar? Posting one description on a website and blasting it out to all your Facebook and Twitter followers makes it fast and impersonal. Assuming anyone bites, you get a much higher cash-to-humiliation return.
And a part of me can’t help but see it as a bit of a perversion of the Kickstarter model. The idea was originally that you had a product, which investors eventually received, along with maybe some goodies for donating early. This particular request doesn’t offer anything but warm fuzzies (my words, not theirs).
I’m not saying that something like “…and here’s the brand-new blog where we’ll be posting hilarious stories and pictures for all our donors” in the description would necessarily have cajoled money out of my wallet, but it would have at least shown some effort, and a sense of humor about the whole thing.
At the end of the day it’s just hard to get past the superfluousness of it. We’re not talking about bank-breaking sums for tuition or medical expenses or a business start-up here. We’re talking a couple grand for a road trip. Work some extra hours, save up, cut your expenses, and you’ll get there.
Begging for the money — however elegant or efficient the begging — seems like giving up too easy. It should be the last resort. If you don’t want a thing badly enough to try making some earning/spending adjustments before sticking your palm out, how much does it even mean to you?
I’m all for a freewheeling and bohemian lifestyle that rejects the conventional labor/capital model. But part of the charm of bohemians always was that they suffered for their art.
Also that they produced, you know, art. Or something of interest. Anything at all, really.
Ah well. Asking isn’t the same as getting, and we’ll see how the crowdfunding attempt goes.