Isn’t Crowdfunding Just Middle Class Begging?

Isn’t Crowdfunding Just Middle Class Begging?

Something happened to me this afternoon that really annoyed me. One of my former Facebook friends sent me a private message asking for money towards their gofundme page to get them on an acting course in Florida. 

Apparently the New York Film Academy have ‘offered’ him a one week intensive film acting course held in the Disney World Studios in Florida. Although, upon further investigation, it appears that has he has decided he wants to go rather than having received an offer. The tuition fee is $1,100 with an upfront deposit of $500 and an extra cost of $990 for accommodation. What I was shocked about was that so far he has raised £630 of the £3,000 he needs. He also states that he has been a professional actor for the better part of two decades – so why isn’t he funding it himself. If, after all this time, he has not managed to put this aside then maybe he should think about another career?

Now, correct me if I am wrong here, but isn’t this just a form of begging? Actually, worse, it’s middle-class begging! If I invest in something, I would at least expect something in return. For example, a few years ago Peter Cox, lead singer of Go West, decided to crowd-fund to make a solo album. Depending on how much you paid, you got something in return. The lowest level was a copy of the album. Ross kindly spent £50 for each of us which not only gave us a copy of the album each but also tickets to an exclusive gig at Highbarn which was thoroughly enjoyable and cheaper than many concert tickets out there! 

This Facebook message is not the first time I have come across this form of want. I came across a couple of guys wanting to make a form of fan film based on Predator. They were asking for money in order to fund the film and, from what I saw, all they could offer was a copy of the trailer! If you want to make a fan fiction film – and you are the fan – then you need to fund it yourself. It is a hobby, not a job! 

What about the people who are asking for the funding? Are they earning any money? Why are they relying on other people’s hard earned cash instead of trying to earn the money for themselves?

When we decided to embark on fertilty treatment and egg donation, I knew that I didn’t want to rely on anyone else. The costs were mine to bear whatever happened. So, I worked really hard and earned every penny to pay for this expense.

I was interested to see if crowdfunding was actually regulated. It is, by the Financial Conduct Authority – but only in part. They do not regulate donation-based crowdfunding where people give money to enterprises or organisations whose activities they want to support or pre-payment or rewards-based crowdfunding where people give money in return for a reward, service or product – such as concert tickets, an innovative product, or a computer game.

I guess it really is down to personal choice at the end of the day as to whether or not individuals donate. I just think that it is very, very sad that the culture of today is people thinking they don’t have to work for anything in an ‘I want it now’ way. People have started to expect something for nothing….which is a whole other can of worms I could open! 

UPDATE 9th April 2016: As an addendum, I would like to wholeheartedly agree with what Louise has said below. If it a charitable cause or hardship or if people are struggling with illness or disease or similar I think that the crowdfunding pages are a great way to help people. Similarly, if you are gaining a product or experience then again I think it can be a valuable resource but to ask for funding when it is a just something you want to do, well that is your business and you should work to pay for it yourself. I would love a massive, amazing lens for my camera (worth nearly £2,000) but I am not going to expect people to crowdfund that! 

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  1. April 10, 2016 / 10:38 am

    Oh my goodness, I’ve never heard of anything like this, but it really takes the p*ss! I totally get where people are coming from supporting it to help people in genuine need and that’s a very different matter from someone who wants something effectively begging from others to fund it. Each to their own, but my own family comes first, followed by charity/ genuine need. I wouldn’t be funding other people to go on an acting course!

  2. April 9, 2016 / 8:33 pm

    I think this is a beautiful application if used correctly. Our town helped a young family fund for a headstone for their son. My bestie’s sister started one or actually it might be kick start? They had a lottery fund for a project (that is way beyond my understanding, but very arty) but not the funds to complete so used crowd funding but offered amazing products and services in return. Even Simon Pegg has retweeted a couple of guys trying to fund an album, but when it’s fund me to live my dream of travelling, learning in the USA or just taking the piss…. then that’s when the system falls down and starts to get a bad reputation.

    For someone to then message you on Facebook – job on mate!!
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  3. April 9, 2016 / 5:04 pm

    The world has gone mad – we’ve seen it a lot with Americans we know – crowd funding to pay for a dog to return to the States when the family were moved back with the Air Force is just one that springs to mind that mad me go wtf.
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  4. April 9, 2016 / 2:46 pm

    I completely agree with everything you’ve said and Louise’s point too. I agree that it is basically begging but that, as with begging, you only donate if you feel like you want to/can afford it/feel strongly about the cause you are supporting by doing so. Having said that, I think it is really wrong to approach people via direct message – that is like cold calling and no-one wants that!!

  5. April 9, 2016 / 2:19 pm

    When I saw your title of your post I was all set to come and defend crowdfunded projects as a friend of a friend needs to raise 200,000 for immunotherapy cancer treatment which is not available on nhs and it is literally a case of life and death – she would be leaving behind three children and has already tried absolutely every other treatment option. Using crowdfunding they’ve managed to raise around 40k which is enough to start treatment. We have another friend who uses crowdfunding opportunities as a way of getting unique things like the music album, tickets for gigs etc and he is happy to give as he feels he is getting good value for the money he gives. But in the cases of someone finding it an easy way to get money for nothing, then totally agree with you – they should be saving their own money!

  6. Agent Spitback
    April 9, 2016 / 11:43 am

    I agree with you. A line has to be drawn and there should be clear boundaries what should be acceptable or not. I think I heard in passing about a person who was raising funds for a birthday party?? It is an entitlement attitude, people are not interested in working hard for themselves. If it was a charitable course, or hardship or illness, i would have no hesitation. But really a birthday party??
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  7. April 9, 2016 / 11:20 am

    One of the things I have seen shared, a lot lately, on my facebook homepage, is a GoFundme page for recently deceased. My problem with this is that there is no REASON for the money raising. I understand the tragedy, some of the local ones have hit close to home. If you were asking to fund a memorial garden, I might donate. If you were raising funds for the family, because they couldn’t afford a proper burial, I would donate. Otherwise, don’t ask me! I don’t know what my money is going towards!? I totally agree with your post, if you have something that will be of use to others, but you cannot get a start up, then ask.

    There are too many people asking for money from that site, before looking at other options. It’s laziness.

  8. April 9, 2016 / 10:53 am

    Interesting post and whilst I agree that in situations like you have described, crowdfunding is effectively middle-class begging, there are circumstance where I think it can be a good thing and make a huge difference for someone. For instance, I have two friends who set up a crowdfunding page earlier this year to raise funds for a double profiling bed which costs around £5000. This couple lost their only child very unexpectedly two years ago (she died from undiagnosed epilepsy at the age of four) and shortly afterwards, the mum was diagnosed with motor neurone disease. The dad has now given up work to become her full-time carer – she is wheelchair bound and can now only sleep sitting in a chair whilst he sleeps on a mattress on the floor next to her. They can no longer cuddle up together although she would be able to sleep in a bed if she had a profiling bed which would make it possible for her to get in and out of bed (with assistance). The NHS will help fund a single one but not a double as her husband does not need this kind of bed. To me, asking for help with getting a double bed is not unreasonable. They’ve been through more than any one should have to bear in the last two years and it would give them a small amount of joy in the time my friend has left. It’s on a par with the experiences that terminally ill children might be given through various charities and therefore I am happy to support them and help them with this. Pages like Go Fund Me give them a way of being able to raise that money that they will struggle to do by themselves. The trouble with these kind of pages though is that it is easy to use them for other things that people feel they should just be given rather than having to work for – particularly if they are able to work and save for these kind of things themselves. I guess the argument is that it is other people’s choice over whether or not they wish to donate to this things – you can always say no. Just my thoughts but interesting to see it being discussed.

  9. April 9, 2016 / 7:24 am

    Hi Victoria, this is a tricky one. I have a friend who has started one of these funding projects to help him help his dog. It’s a long story, but this chap lost his wife two years ago, is not financially in a great place and has always put his dog first. The chap doesn’t drink or smoke, will do anything for anyone and arranges these fantastic walks without ever asking for a penny, so when we saw his page we knew he was at his wits end (he works in the summer). He also never sent it in a personal message and I happened to see it on FB.

    And whilst we haven’t donated any money as we have our own dogs and children to look after, I don’t mind putting a link to his page in my sidebar for a while and I have shared it on Twitter. In my opinion, if someone wants to donate they can, it’s their choice, but I have never felt any pressure from the chap and have spoken to him about his dogs health and the costs since he set the page up (there is no such thing as pet insurance over here).

    I do agree that it is a form of begging, but each individual case is personal and if they feel comfortable doing it then fair dos. I wouldn’t put the ad on my blog for just anyone, but I know the chap, I know the simple life he leads and he is such a genuinely nice bloke, I couldn’t not try and help.

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