Crowdfunding in the Internet age started off with the mostly honorable intentions.
At first, the main idea was to use social media to let people from all around the world chip in money to help out others in need or worthy causes.
That’s why we’ve seen people donate in droves to victims of natural disasters like hurricanes, earthquakes or tsunamis.
Even when man-made calamities would strike, such as terrorist attacks, mass shootings, horrible car crashes or accidentals fires that took out whole families, crowdfunding efforts popped up to aid victims of these tragedies or their families.
More recently, however, people have been using crowdfunding for all sorts of crazy reasons, as Reuters pointed out in a story about the backlash against crowdfunding, which has now grown into a $34 billion a year industry, with platforms like GoFundMe, Kickstarter, Indiegogo and JustGiving helping needy – and not-so-needy – people connect with donors.
That Reuters piece got me thinking about the crowdfunding requests that I definitely will not support.
Completely Out of Hand
Every week without fail – and sometimes every day – I see various crowdfunding pleas on Facebook or other social media, in my email box, or in the general news.
To be honest, all these crowdfunding wishes have gotten completely out of hand.
I don’t want to offend anyone, but I think I speak for a lot of people when I say that there are certain crowdfunding requests that I am just not going to support – no way, no how!
So without further adieu, here are 4 crowdfunding requests that you shouldn’t even bother sending my way, because … well, you just really shouldn’t go there.
Your personal vacations
No, I won’t pay for or contribute to, your efforts to go take some fun or fancy vacation. Sorry, but a vacation is a want, not a need.
As a person who loves to travel, I can tell you that a vacation can no doubt feel like it’s so necessary. Especially when you need a mental health break. Studies have even shown that vacations can be beneficial to your health, can restore and rejuvenate you, and can even do wonders for your marriage.
That’s all fine and good – but first things first.
And first of all, you need to be able to pay for your own excursion to Cancun, Paris, the Bahamas or wherever you want to go!
Now, I know some couples getting married have a gift registry where people can make donations to the bride and groom’s honeymoon. That’s a different thing. Those newlyweds are celebrating and they don’t want to go into debt, etc. I get it.
But just your routine, run-of-the-mill Spring Break vacation or Summer Vacation or an “I’ve been working so hard, girl, I need a vacation!” kind of trip? Nope. I’m not forking over my hard-earned cash for you to do that. So don’t ask.
I will give you some advice, though: Plan and save for your vacation like the rest of us. Then take that trip when you can actually afford it.
Meantime, do a staycation or just a quick, local road trip. But please stop asking me and other people to underwrite your personal, long-distance getaway – especially when you’re just going to post pictures and videos about that same excursion, making some of the very same people who donated jealous about your fabulous trip!
Your cosmetics procedures
It’s honestly kind of shocking to me how many people are all over social media begging for money for all kinds of cosmetics procedures – including tummy tucks, botox treatments, plastic surgery and more.
It’s one thing for an ailing person or a family member to set up a GoFundMe account to raise money for a medically necessary procedure – particularly when someone has a true health emergency or needs a life-saving operation.
Often times, the medical bills are spiraling out of control or a sick person may not have health insurance. Not only does my heart go out to those folks, but I’m willing to throw in some crowdfunding money to help out as well.
But when you just want to look like a size 6 instead of a size 16 and you want lipo-suction? Or when you think that getting a new set of cheekbones or bigger boobs would enhance your sex appeal? I’m sorry. That’s where I draw the line. Pay for that yourself!
By the way, I’m not exaggerating. There’s literally a crowdfunding site called MyFreeImplants.com to help women “safely network with benefactors online” and “get those curves you’ve always dreamed of with a FREE breast augmentation.”
Okaaay. Enough said.
Your house down payment
As a Money Coach, this one really gets me. It’s not that I don’t understand how difficult or expensive it can be to buy a house. I totally get that.
But the problem I have is that if you have to go asking strangers for money to come up with that home or condo down payment, chances are you aren’t at all ready for the enormous responsibilities that go along with homeownership.
And the even sadder thing is: you obviously don’t truly understand that you’re not ready, or else you wouldn’t be doing a crowdfunding drive to scrape up the money.
Buying a home, as I’ve explained before, is more than just coming up with the down payment and closing costs. It’s also more than paying PITI – principal, interest, taxes and insurance – every month.
As almost any long-term homeowner will tell you, there’s almost always something to pay for with your house: utilities, repairs, maintenance, upgrades, renovations, furnishings and more.
(Related Reading: 10 Practical Tips to Buy a Home This Year)
So if you’re just barely getting in the door as a homeowner with the help of other people’s crowdfunding money, you clearly don’t yet have savings skills necessary to ensure successful, sustainable homeownership.
Better to wait to become a homeowner when you’re truly financially prepared rather than get into a house you can’t afford and wind up in foreclosure down the road.
Otherwise, what are you going to do when you can’t make your house payment or when your roof leaks? Get back on Facebook and start asking your Facebook family for more money? Just don’t.
Your kids’ parties or gifts for your kids
Look, we all have to live in the real world. And a hard lesson in the real world is that when you can’t afford something, you just shouldn’t buy it, or stretch to ridiculous levels to buy it.
That’s what I’m thinking when I see you asking me and other folks to pitch in to buy your child a Hoverboard or some expensive present for Christmas.
Let me think about that crowdfunding request for a hot second. Ummmm. No.
I don’t even buy my own kids such pricey gifts! So why am I going to contribute to your consumer-driven impulses to go out all for the holidays or some birthday bash?
You’re sending your kids the wrong message. Instead of showing them that you bought them a gift that you could afford on your own, and that was within your budget, you’re going to ridiculous lengths to front and to bling.
And all for what: some misguided attempt to make your children happy?
A word to the wise: it’s NOT NECESSARY!
Your kids will not love you any less if they don’t get $250 pair of Jordans or a $1,000 pair of Yeezy kicks. They will not fall apart or be emotionally damaged if they don’t get a “special” birthday party. Nor will they be scarred for life if the only gift you can give is you.
Believe it or not, most children want our presence rather than presents. In other words, quality time together beat material gifts any day.
So why don’t you try being a good financial role model, and talking to your kids (all year long, not just around their birthday or the holidays) about budgeting, delayed gratification and spending within one’s means? Now those are lessons that they’ll benefit from for life.
Support What You Believe In – Ignore The Rest
For the record, I’m not a person who doesn’t believe in giving. Just this month, for example, I donated to two causes that I care about.
In celebration of Women’s History Month, I contributed to Pro Mujer, a non-profit organization that seeks to empower women in Latin America by providing them with financial, healthcare, education and other services.
I also believe strongly in the need for student loan reform. So I signed a petition and donated that same Change.org petition, which was started by SoFi in a bid to let lawmakers incentivize employers to pay off their workers’ student loans.
So don’t take my overall message the wrong way. I’ll support an important cause or mission, and even help someone in dire circumstances.
But when it comes to frivolous things that a lot of people are crowdfunding for, I’ll continued to immediately delete those requests – or just ignore them altogether.
What about you? What crowdfunding messages irritate you or make you cringe?