Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Tales from the Trenches: Internet Panhandling and Authentic Fundraising

I'll begin by saying that this all started innocently enough. This past weekend, it was the Breast Cancer 3-Day. I looked into it, as walking 60 miles in three days is something that I could completely handle, but what were the details? I stopped dead in my tracks when I saw that each person who participates in the 3-Day is required to raise $2300.00. I thought that there was no way that I could do this on my own, but perhaps if I formed a team (April and Kim came to mind), we could split that 3 ways and that was a much more attainable amount for each one of us. As I read the team requirements, it stated that each person was to raise $2300.00, no exceptions. If you weren't able to raise the required amount by walk time, you could either forfeit your walking experience (but all funds raised would remain with the organization-- as it should be), you could front the money on your credit card then or on a temporary hold for a short period of time that would give you more time to raise your monies. Participated in the walk, but didn't finish fundraising by the extended deadline? The remaining amount that you didn't raise would be charged to the credit card that you left to hold your "balance due." Yikes.

Then I started thinking. How on God's green earth could I possibly raise $2300.00 on my own? I've seen Michelle at Big Blueberry Eyes post a donation button on the sidebar for the Buddy Walk, but that amount wasn't nearly what this was. She didn't do it as an obnoxious thing. It was small and tactful. I couldn't do that, though. It was far too much money and so many people are so wary due to being just flat out worn out by, "I need money for this and for that." What am I talking about? The internet sensation of panhandling. There is a difference between panhandling and fundraising. I have a few examples of the panhandling that drives me crazy.

The Baby April Rose Scam. The story goes like this, woman pregnant with baby that was confirmed to have two different birth defects that would prevent her from living for long, if not at all. The story is talked about here and here. I remember reading about it. I remember having had all of Bailey's birth story flash in front of me. I remember being in tears and praying for her and her mother. Her blog was apparently set with ads, which would generate funds. The bigger the story got, the more clicks and the more the money added up. (Presumably, as no one confirmed her personal payment with such ads.) And while she didn't ask for things, items were sent on to her. She posted a PO Box on her blog sidebar (if I recall what I read), so she knew that gifts would be coming to her. So. not. cool.

Wish Upon a Hero. This is a panhandling website that I was introduced to through Bzz Agent. It was a Frog in the Frog Pond and I remember that when I gave feedback about it, I wasn't completely sold on it. I remember reading someone stating that they needed a limo and their nails done for their wedding (along with other wedding items) because that is what she wanted and she didn't have the money for it. (Let's face it, not necessary. I didn't have a limo and only had my nails done because I had a gift certificate from my birthday 6 months earlier.) Someone was asking for a mobility scooter because they had one that didn't move fast enough. (I'm not kidding.) I'll pop in from time to time to see what people are asking for. You can be guaranteed many requests for utility bill payment, a car, a wish list for Walmart because they need new underwear, socks or just "something nice for themselves since it is their birthday." I have a birthday coming up. Perhaps I should register and see what I get, right? (Truly not serious.) They are "hungry for pizza tonight" and "I hope that there is a pizza hero!" WHAT?! I'm hungry for pizza any time of the day, but I don't ask y'all to buy me one. This website makes me ill. The sad thing is that I'm certain that in there somewhere are legitimate requests for people. You just can't figure out which ones are true needs and which ones are just folks on a corner jingling change in a cup. Unfortunately, I believe that at least 80% of what is posted on there is schlock that someone is dishing out just to get an easy way.

Save Karen. This is where internet panhandling got most of its beginning press. "I'm in debt up to my eyeballs, so if each person gives me dollar, then I'll be out of debt!" The last I checked, no one was offering dollars to my doorstep to pay my mortgage payment (at this point that would be 65,000 kind souls) or my RAV payment (that would be 10,000 envelopes that my pin-head mail carrier would have to take to presumably the CORRECT box here and not somewhere up the street. And yes, I know that there is Pay Pal, but I'm going for effect. Just go with me here.)

Since when was it everyone else's responsibility to take care of the general public's debt? Okay, I understand that there are governmental programs, funded by tax dollars that nearly all of us pay into and we all most certainly benefit from at least one. That's not what I'm talking about. I'm talking about going to the general public to take care of debts that you accrued on your own, often knowing that they were far and above your means only to figure that someone else will bail you out.


Now, I'm also not saying that there isn't genuine internet fundraising. Again, Michelle fund raises for The Buddy Walk. Her daughter, Kayla, was born with Trisomy 21 and Michelle is quite an advocate for education and awareness in regard to Down Syndrome. Kelli, in need of a kidney transplant, was the recipient of some blog fundraising love years ago through Boo Mama. B-Mama also fund raised for Heather when she was diagnosed with what was first termed as an inoperable brain tumor, later to be removed at the Mayo Clinic. Tammy, Parker's mom, had a fundraising button on her website, as Parker suffers from myriad medical issues and their medical costs are out of sight. I hadn't popped in on Parker for a while, but when I did the other day, I noticed that the button is no longer there.

There are many other truthful pleas regarding internet fundraising. Too bad that so many have been burnt by the fake ones trying to make an easy buck. In fact, when I was researching for this post (believe it or not, there was a lot of research involved), I popped on in to Kelly's blog. I was surprised by the post that she had up that very day was about not posting fundraising on her blog for folks. Kelly was where I linked on over to the April Rose blog. I think that for Kelly, it probably still stings a little. (Authentically just a very caring and prayerful Christian. So many of us were duped by the dishonesty that Beccah barfed out onto her blog.)

Lesson learned. Don't believe everything you read.

What's your take on internet panhandling or fundraising? I'm curious. Speak your mind. I won't give you a lashing with a wet noodle for having a different opinion. All I ask is that you keep it civil, please.

Confession #1:
The talk-to-the-doctor thing yesterday? I was concerned about the tendon thing, but also a small area of swelling-- didn't seem totally lump-like but definitely needed checked out-- is fine. I was worried since it is in the exact area of lymph nodes. I had myself a little freaked out, but had been watching it. So, lesson learned. Just go when you feel it and not let yourself worry about it. (It had been since June that I noticed, but I figured it was a tendon thing.) Seems as though I tweaked my left shoulder. (I think that the left was jealous over the attention that my whiplashed right shoulder got last year.) Dr. Wilson poked, pulled, had me pull and tug and felt around everywhere. And yes, Rachael, we believe that the bike is to blame. It did give me an opportunity to discuss family history of cancer with him, which he took very seriously. I explained that since my grandmother died of colon cancer, I'm on the 40 year plan. He absolutely agreed. Aunt Carol died of a Glioblastoma in the temporal lobe. Grandma Gum has Small Cell Lymphoma. He told me to keep going for yearly exams and to keep up doing what I'm doing. He sat in a chair and talked with me. He's a very young guy and when I first started seeing him (started with the RAV accident), I wasn't sure how to take him. He is a genuinely nice guy, laid back and didn't get his degree from a Cracker Jack box. (When he came in today, we both had jeans on that definitely looked like they came from the same store.) We really love all the doctors in the practice and it makes me so thankful that we go there. We've had such crack-pot doctors that could care less, that to have a practice full of doctors that really support each other is quite shocking. I thank my biopolar brother for the referral.

Confession #2:
After having had my cholesterol taken today, I've decided to be cholesterol-watch free today. I left and got myself Cinna-melts at McD's and this evening my dinner was a Rodeo Burger, Onion Rings (with zesty sauce) and a piece of Strawberry Shortcake Cheesecake. Back to being a good girl tomorrow. Everyone has to have a cheat day.

Thunks to a customer forehead:

To the lady who left the dog in the hot car for two hours as you leisurely shopped,

I understand that the dog was not yours, but was your friends. I also understand that you had each window cracked about 2". I applaud you for that. However, when I stood next to the window, heat was pouring out of the windows. It was about 82 degrees out. That's not terribly hot, but the inside of the car heats up higher than that. There was no food or water for the dog, who was continually panting the entire time you were in the store. I threatened to go fill a water bottle to dribble it for the dog to drink. I also threatened to fill the backseat with dog biscuits. Your pet irresponsibility is so not cool. If the dog locks you in the car and goes into Petsmart by himself for 2 hours, I won't blame him. I just ask that he gives you the same courtesy that you gave him. Just crack all the windows, please. No drink. No food. No shade. No toys. Nothing to do. Just some dirty windows to look out of. Sounds fair enough, yes? Maybe a nice stranger will come and scratch you on the nose like I did for him.

Also, I understand that you were peddling your "wire wrapped jewelry," but displaying it in a jewelry tray on your dashboard as you shop is probably not the best way of getting the word out there. I do thank you for not coming in and plunking it down on the counter.

I know that you mentioned something about coming back today. Please leave the dog at home.

Thank you.

Smiles in my day:
- My dad will be delivering the patio stone tomorrow. Oh thank goodness!
- My dad will be delivering driveway/shed pad stone at the end of the month. Double goodness!
- My doctor's visit proved many things to me. Wow, do I feel better.
- Laurie made a water bottle cover for K-'s Klean Kanteen. I just didn't want it to sweat in her lunchbox!
- I confirmed K-'s alternate babysitting arrangements for next week when the MIL is in Wisconsin. Whew-whoo!

Have a great day!


Rach said...

I'm relieved your doctor visit had good news (or, as good as it could be given the circumstances). And, I wholeheartedly agree with the food cheating, if only for a day. :o)

I'm not sure HOW I feel about internet panhandling. I think there are most definitely worthy causes out there, yet, I don't agree with those asking for money because of things they have done. I know people have ads and such on their blogs, but I never pay much attention to that.

I suppose what all that means is I'm all for fund raising if *I* deem the cause worthy. Rather judgmental of me, no? ;oP

Jamie said...

Good news from the doc. Mine is young and I have made a few comments to him about being Doogie Houser which he let roll ( he knows I am ultimately joking). He knows his stuff, so I have to give him credit.

I never give money to anyone on the internet unless I am taken to a charity sponsored web page. Years ago, we were very active in NAAR (which is now Autism Speaks) and we had a sub domain on the charity website where we collected donations for the charity in B's team name. It is possible to collect thousands of dollars but you have to swallow your pride and tell yourself it is for charity. We raised $5,000+ each time for a couple of years in a row but this involved going to media outlets (not hard for us considering what my husband does) and asking them to help. I realize not everyone has that option but we raised $1200 without the help of the media and we don't have any friends. I don't know how we did it, honestly.

I am very picky about charities that I donate to: it has to be something that has affected me personally. Autism charities always get our money. As for breast cancer and other types, we don't just because they haven't personally affected us. I know that might sound crappy considering the amount of people suffering but it is just the way we are. If my mother was dx'ed with breast cancer tomorrow, I would certainly step up and do it. We currently give to Autism Speaks and Children's Hospital of Pgh.

These sites where paypal buttons are and other "donate here" buttons... nah, I just ignore them. It's not my job to support someone sitting at home on their rear end expecting to rake in pizza money. I do that when I pay taxes; that is enough.

Kaycee said...

Oh my gosh, that Wish Upon a Hero site is appalling. I like FreeCycle much better, it doesn't seem so....trashy(?) for lack of a better word.

I do a lot of walks and runs for charity, so that kind of fund raising doesn't bother me and I will donate when I can just because I know how hard it is to ask for the money. Most of those fundraisers are legitimate, but I make sure that my money goes to the organization directly and not through the walker. $2300 is a lot of money though.

As far as "donating" to pay someone's bills? No, I will not do that. If I have to pay mine, you have to pay yours, things are tough all over. I might send money to someone with a sick child, but it would have to be someone that I know.

Anyways, I've decide that my baby requires a certain amount of onion rings in order to properly develop, so I've been cheating a lot lately. I'm with you there.

GERBEN said...

Glad to hear that the doc visit went so well! :-)

As far as fundraising on line goes. I've done a few. March of Dimes and Susan B. Komen. Nothing were I had to raise as much as $2,300! That seems step!

Whenever I do those things I will post it to my blog. Usually just one post when I first sign up and then maybe a reminder post a week before the walk/run.

And I never want anyone to feel like they HAVE to give.

I've had good fundraisers where I've been able to turn in a nice chunk (still no where near $2,300!)of change and then not so good ones.

I figure, every little bit helps.

As far as giving myself. I don't mind $10 bucks here, $20 there if I can afford it. And if it looks to be a legitimate cause/group. I try to stick with groups I've heard about before or know something about.

But that's just me! :-)

ChupieandJ'smama said...

Glad all went well at the Dr. And good for you for cheating with the food. I did too yesterday. I got a veggie burger (w/ cheese and mayo) and medium fry from BK. So bad, yet so good.

I try to be careful with who I give to. It's not easy to know who's legit and who isn't so sometimes I just give and hope it goes to a good use. I didn't hear about that baby one until it made the news. That is so sad that someone would do that but, people will do anything for money.

I really try not to give over the internet. I have in the past but I gave in faith and moved on.

Michelle said...

Like another commenter mentioned I don't mind giving when the link goes through a legitimate charity fundraising site and I receive some type of confirmation for tax purposes. I never intended to put a 'sponsor' type button or widget on my blog before, but the first year I mentioned, just as a blog post, what the BW was about I had several people ask if they could donate/sponsor us. I was blown away as that was never my intent to ask people I never met to donate. It was just an informative post to let people know what the BW was about. At that time all I had was my pay pal address, my home address, or the organization's name...I did feel uncomfortable because I didn't have anything really "official". The next year the BW group who I walked with linked up with www.firstgiving.com and that made it easier to put a widget on my blog for those that wanted to donate. But I certainly never expected people to, and was again was blown away by the generosity of people wanting to sponsor Kayla. I never had to raise a set amount though and 2300 does seem like a high amt to be required to raise! I certainly don't mind donating/sponsoring others for these type of walks and try to send anywhere from 5-20 dollars when I can.