Viewpoint: The Problem with Crowdfunding: It Doesn’t Help the Needy Crowd
Monday, February 23, 2015
I’m not a fan of crowdfunding for the celebrity cause of the moment.
The Internet has made it so much easier for people to pony up money for any person or family whose story gets picked up — by social media, newspapers, network and cable shows — that it has become trendy to give.
Case in point: A 56-year-old Detroit man was profiled in the media for his amazing work ethic. James Robertson didn’t have a car, so as part of his commute, he took two buses and walked 21 miles round trip to get to his factory job. He is to be admired.
A young man who learned about Robertson decided to start a crowdfunding campaign to help him buy a car. Money started blowing in like the blizzards of New England this month. More than 13,000 people sent in a total of $350,000. But then a local dealership gave Robertson a new red Ford Taurus. Robertson still gets to keep the money, and some financial companies have offered their services for free to help manage it.
The story is heartwarming. People who donated to Robertson should feel good about their generosity.
But I’m disturbed that the story has become more about one man than an issue that should be highlighted, which is the lack of public transportation and the inability of many low-income families to earn enough to even own a car.
There are so many others out there who are struggling to make it to work, but because their story isn’t extraordinary, they don’t receive the same empathy as the Detroit walker.