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Kickstarter campaigns: logical or unethical?

You’re really no one until someone rejects you. And if you get an email saying “have a nice life, and don’t contact me until you live an ethical one” – well that’s just gold.

Let me back up.

A couple of weeks ago, I had the immense pleasure of learning I was accepted to a very exclusive writer’s workshop outside the US. It took a TRUCK LOAD of balls to send in my writing sample, and even after I did, there was a part of me that really didn’t believe I’d ever be selected. The instructor is a literary rock star; there are only 10 slots open, and well… I’m just this chick with some blog.

After receiving the call that I was in, I cried so many happy tears, I couldn’t speak. I called my mom. I sat there in my living room and allowed myself to dream bigger than I ever have.

Then a day passed. Reality set in. And I needed to think about how the hell I was gonna afford this (I don’t know anyone who has extra cash floating around, do you?).

Then I remembered a few months back, donating to a friend’s Kickstarter Campaign. She’s a stage performer (comedian) and needed funds to help with productions of her videos. I happily donated to her dream because I know her passion. Come to think of it, I’ve kicked in a few bucks this past year to similar personal fund-raising campaigns – just to show my support and encouragement for someone having the balls to follow their dream.

Still, I was uneasy. Would starting my own fundraising campaign be… weird? I’ve never asked anyone for money or any kind of help before, so just the idea was definitely off-putting. So I asked my friends (and followers) on social media what their thoughts were about me doing something like this.

“If I get accepted to this writer’s workshop, would it be totally narcissistic and gross if I started a fund-raising campaign? If everyone I knew donated just ten dollars, I’d be able to go.”

“I’m in!”

“No, way – do it!”

“That’s an awesome idea!”

The feedback I received was overwhelmingly positive. So I thought – if I get accepted, I’m doing it.

Fast forward with 20 days to go on this campaign and I’ve raised a good chunk of funds. I’m beside myself with gratitude for friends (and some anonymous strangers) that have come forward to help fund my dream. Seriously. I’ve cried many, MANY grateful tears. I get that money is tight for all of us. And for someone to even contribute a penny of their hard-earned money is BEYOND.

Then, the email.

“Don’t contact me again unless you live your life ethically.” (paraphrasing)

This is from a family member who has supported me every step of the way – until now. She’s in her 70s, and a retired journalist. And BOY does this fundraising idea hit a nerve.

With one email from her, I’m 14 years old again – feeling ashamed of myself, embarrassed and like an overall tool.

After she said I was “Stupid”, and a whole bucket load of negative bullshit, I replied.

“I appreciate where you’re coming from, but I refuse to be shamed for having the courage to ask for help and follow my dream. These fundraising programs are very popular right now, so although I understand this seems unethical to you – quite honestly – your email calling me names is unethical. No one is required or obligated to donate. And if you don’t have anything nice to say, please don’t say it.”

Well, it just goes on and on from there.

I’m proud of myself for taking a stand to her, but can’t help but feel she’s not the only one who believes these personal “Kickstarter” campaigns are unethical and in poor taste.

There are countless people in the Philipines who could use the funds I’ve raised. Part of me wants to give up my spot at this workshop and donate the cash to the Red Cross.

I’m emotional. I’m completely stressed.

If you’re interested in seeing what the fuss is about, here’s the video I made:

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If you’d like to see the fund-raising campaign – please go HERE.

What are your thoughts on personal fund-raising campaigns: logical or unethical?

 

23 thoughts on “Kickstarter campaigns: logical or unethical?

    • I agree! I don’t see where the whole “unethical” thing is coming from. This is an educational trip – and I’m not hiding anything. No one is obligated or required, or even expected to donate. Maybe this is just a generational thing. Anyway, thanks for your comment. I really appreciate it.

  1. Listen Christine, that money is yours, not to be donated. I think you are one hell of a women, a writer and all the good stuff i know of you. She and others are entitle to their opinion but you should feel know shame. I think it’s a stupendous idea and if just your friends who love you, took you out for a cup of coffee, well then, I’m sure they would rather help you reach your dream and follow your passion, here’s $10. Right? Of course next time you’re in NY or I’m in LA we’ll have the coffee.

    Love you girl, do not give up!!

    • Oh Patrice thank you! I’ve really bee struggling with the idea of giving it all to charity. But you are right. This is my deam and I’m going to follow it. With the THANKS to you and many people who care. I love you girl. Thank you!

  2. There is nothing unethical about asking for help, provided you are honest with those you are asking for help. To me, you’ve more than met that criteria. Crowdfunding has become a viable option for many people to accomplish many things. I personally feel your trip to a writing workshop is a far better use of crowdfunding materials than friends I’ve seen ask for money because they want to go on a vacation to Scotland for two weeks. You see, some friends were going too and they don’t want to be left out. Those are folk who simply don’t want to save for a trip, or look to better their station in life to afford items of luxury when they can digitally panhandle so much easier. But even though I don’t agree with their mindset, I would not call them unethical in their decision to crowdfund.

    They were honest about their intention, their utter lack of intent to compensate their benefactors at any point, and they were completely frank that there was no end game to their endeavor other than “I wanna.” I didn’t agree with them, so I didn’t fund their campaigns. But again, not because of a lack of ethics in their decision to crowdfund a vacation, but rather simply because I knew from experience that the generosity they were asking from others wasn’t something they would provide to others asking the same, and would lean on the crutch of being “broke”.

    It was as if their altruism ended at the end of their nose, or more accurately at the inbox of their paypal accounts. Perhaps for me, that is where the ethics break down, not in the decision to crowdfund, but where they feel their social responsibility begins upon entering this sort of “karmic” contract.

    You, my friend, have a clear mission statement, are going for educational purposes, rather than the flimsy word-working of “travel is a kind of education,” and have listed in earnest, the points and perks of participation. You are asking people to invest in your education, your betterment, and your ability to provide proven content back to them. That’s what crowdfunding should be about.

    • I’m laughing at your story about those people raising funds for a trip! Not “at” them.. but the IDEA. Thanks for clarifying – I’m tempted to pass this link on to my famiily member, but something tells me she still won’t understand.

      But THANk YOU Adam. I love you tons. xxoo

  3. I stumbled across your blog somehow, right around the start of your Indiegogo campaign, and thought, “Hmmm… exotic dancer turned blogger and writer, and accepted to an ‘exclusive writer’s workshop’ – interesting!” (And, it says “Costa Mesa, CA”, my former stomping grounds…) I did notice the “flexible funding” status of your campaign, as well. There are lots of them out there, and yes, some have misused or “redirected” personal Indiegogo campaigns for purposes other than the the stated one. Like others have pointed out, you have a clear goal and mission statement, and we all hope that you use your crowdfunded gains responsibly and for their intended purpose.

    I’m sorry your family member has chosen to deem your (perhaps unorthodox or unconventional, to them) method of funding your participation in this workshop as “unethical” behavior. Don’t think the facts justify this conclusion. Would your backers be disappointed if you end up misusing or misdirecting your funds? Of course. Would they all enjoy hearing about your trip and the workshop and reading about your experience and the (hopefully funny and endearing) stories that will likely come from it Hell yeah!

    So, good luck and I hope you keep your slot at the workshop and make it down there and have blast, and that it’s an incredibly rewarding experience!

  4. You are chasing something worthwhile and noble… there is nothing wrong with asking for help… it takes a village to do more than raise a child… it takes a village to build a society worth living in… you aren’t merely asking for help but giving others the opportunity to be helpful and kind as well..!

  5. Like you said, no one HAS to participate! It would only be unethical if a person didn’t use the money for what it was intended for or if the person was deceiving people into giving.

    You are teaching people that it is ok to ask for help…and that it is also ok for the person to decide to help or not.

    Name calling doesn’t for in here. Too bad.

  6. I was one of the twitter peeps who though there was nothing wrong fundraising for this and I stand by that 100 fucking percent. The creative arts (writing, painting, music, whatever etc) are often supported by grants, endowments, fundraising etc. So what makes this any different?

    Relatives are happy to give loads of money to pay for obscenely lavish weddings for family members, friends purchase expensive baby accessories simply because someone decides to have a baby so it becomes everybody’s duty to fund what mom- to- be thinks she needs, parents throw big-ass graduation parties for 4 year olds graduating from PRE SCHOOL where people feel obligated to bring gifts (seriously, I know someone who did that) and write checks to their adult kids in college who are pissing it away on parties and fucking nonsense, so what, really WHAT, makes what you’re doing so outrageous in the scheme of things?? I mean, really, if we want to look at being unethical, then how could anyone in their right mind take a dime from someone else to help pay for the $8,000 wedding dress that is a must have. That’s unethical.

    You know, when I think about it, if I had all the money I’ve essentially donated to friends and family for their choices, their weddings, standing up in weddings, multiple baby showers, school fundraisers for my niece and nephews so they could go on class trips, baseball camps, cheer-leading camp, etc, I’d be able to fund your workshop 5 times over. I’m not a rich woman, far from it, but I’m generous in spirit and that is what compels us to do someone a solid and help them out.

    You know who you are and what you’re about. That’s all that matters. Hold your head high and kick the haters off your pant leg, sister.

  7. Meh. She’s jealous I gave my 20 bucks to you instead of some annoying PBS pledge drive so that Nova could stay on the air. You deserve this opportunity. Enjoy every glorious, unethical second of it!

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