Is Crowdfunding, the Modern Day Begging?



I was scrolling through my Facebook feed, and I came across a very interesting post. A young bright woman who had been selected for higher studies at the prestigious London School of Economics was asking for money. She resorted to crowdfunding from her Facebook friends and strangers as she was about to emigrate to London, which is one of the most expensive cities in the world. Her post said that she had managed to get through the admission process but would not be able to make through the expenses so called for any contribution, big or small.


Crowdsourcing or Crowdfunding is basically a method of raising money on the internet. People who are in need of money pitch in their ideas/cause, and others who think the concept is worthy, donate money.


Now coming back to the Facebook story, what struck a chord with me was how she called her fundraising exercise as 'Crowdsourcing' when it was in reality just a modern, suave term for 'begging'.


In an era when banks provide education loans easily, was it necessary to take the easy way out? Did she choose this route to avoid paying interest? Plus what happens after she completes her education, will she track down all the people who funded her and repay them back?


The Good, Bad and the Ugly!


Crowdsourcing is a brilliant initiative and there are several instances of communities joining hands to bail out those in need. During the 2015 Greek economic meltdown nearly 14,000 people pitched in 220,000 Euros after a 'Greek bailout fund' campaign was initiated by a businessman named Thom Feeney. Another excellent example is how several good Samaritans funded the education of Tibetan refugees across India.




The concept of Crowdsourcing has widely been panned by its critics. Who verifies if the cause is genuine? What if the person disappears after taking your money? Also what about the credentials of the person donating the money, can crowd funding become another method of turning black money into white?


In 2015, a woman in Iowa, United States was arrested after she raised money for her sick child. The woman claimed her daughter had cancer and used the money to fund her lifestyle.


While the concept of crowd funding is still new in India, chances of people getting scammed are very high. Online phishing, spamming and cyber crimes are on the rise. If the idea catches on, then chances are government will have to regulate them to ensure transparency. Strict regulations need to be in place otherwise another brilliant initiative will turn into a damp squib.





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