Crowd funding creates medium for collective success
April 5, 2012
Filed under Voice
In a capitalist society, the general public is trained to believe in the idealistic vision of prosperity and success through hard work. Thus, in past generations the American dream inspired people to embody the notion of upward social mobility through self-sufficiency, abandoning those in poverty under the justification of survival of the fittest in a cut-throat, winner take all capitalist economy.
Therefore, with the downturn of today’s economy, one would rationally assume that Americans would embrace the ideal of individual prosperity without regards to the plight of the rest of the nation. However, this is not the case.
America is undergoing a revolution, where people are concerned about the welfare of society and are willing to make monetary contributions to aid in the dreams and well-being of strangers. A phenomenon called crowd funding has become the most accessible venue for ordinary people to donate funds ranging from $1 to $100 online to any cause that resonates with them, such as a struggling artist, a relief organization or even students trying to pay off college loans.
Many people abandon their creative visions due to a lack of investments, so inventors, musicians, filmmakers and artists often use crowd funding to launch their careers. Websites like Indiegogo.com and Kickstarter.com are free platforms where people can develop a creative campaign, set a funding goal and gain global exposure through shares on social networking sites.
For example, quirky inventions like the Scrubbawash bag, which is essentially a portable washing machine, have raised up to $15,000 in contributions from hundreds of donors. Thus, although competition is the driving force in a free market economy, it does not overshadow the sense of community and purpose we can share by investing in the future of those aspiring for greatness.
The influence of crowd sharing has quickly expanded beyond the realm of entrepreneurial ventures and into philanthropic measures. Despite the fact that Kony 2012 evaporated out of the consciousness of students almost as quickly as it overwhelmed their Facebook newsfeeds, philanthropy can still be relevant to youth. Specifically, Kiva.org is a nonprofit organization that alleviates poverty by issuing $25 loans to groups in a multitude of different sectors of the community, including agriculture, food and housing. Therefore, people have the option to find a cause that truly resonates with them and donate because they care, not because of an emotionally manipulative short film.
For today’s youth it is often difficult to recognize the extent of global hardships because the plight of African or Latin American children is not something that all the students in America can relate to or identify with. Therefore, the scope of crowd funding extends to many areas of philanthropy, allowing people to choose the specific causes they want to contribute to. For example Donorschoose.org allows teachers from across the country to request basic school supplies, playground equipment and computers for low income schools online, allowing donors to make contributions to improve the learning environment for underprivileged students.
However, the most applicable form of crowd funding for students has surfaced through donating money to students to fund college loans. For example Takeashine.org assists exceptional students who risk missing out on higher education because they cannot meet their college costs. Gradefund.com is also a medium through which all students, regardless of their socioeconomic status, can ask their family and friends to sponsor them in their pursuit for good grades. Sponsors can choose to offer various amounts for each grade the student achieves, while GradeFund collects the money, verifies transcripts, and distributes the money.
Even Andrew Carnegie, one of the wealthiest business moguls of all time, claimed that “while the law of competition may be hard for the individual, it is best for the race, because it ensures the survival of the fittest.” However, America’s young generation’s moral values appear to have shifted from personal to collective success. Today humanity thrives through community, which is now defined by the ties of the internet, bringing together donors, visionaries, and philanthropists into a sphere of communal activism and support for each other’s prosperity. This is the new American dream.