Go Fund Yourself!

Who was it? Who was the person that first looked at the thymus gland of an animal and said, “Hey, let’s eat that soft spongy organ. I’ll bet it will be delicious. We can call it ‘sweetbreads’ because dead animal thymus or offal doesn’t sound quite as appetizing.” Then after that, did that same person declare various animal testicles and livers to be edible as well? And fairly recently, who had the hootzpah to sit in a meeting in Hollywood and suggest that they make a movie with a tornado full of sharks? Perhaps I am asking the wrong question. The real question should not be “Who?” but “Why did anyone go along with it?” and “How in the world was it ever considered a good idea?” Oh, sure, now that it has been done with arguable success, we no longer question these things.

IDEAS. In my experience there have been two types of idea people: those who always throw out big ideas and expect the rest of us to work to make them happen only to have the idea people change to something else just as your work comes to fruition (sounds as though I have worked in education a while, doesn’t it? But, I’m not jaded, really) and the second type of idea generators: those people who have brilliant ideas and either have the work ethic or the financial backing to make them happen.  The second group is the one that I most admire. People like Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerburg, whoever invented salted caramel, and the person behind Skechers Go Walk3 shoes are my heroes. I am not sure that I have ever had an original idea, let alone a great one. My friend Bad Ideas coupled with her sister Poor Choices have been steady influences in my life; thus the outcome of my ideas has never manifested as I had envisioned in my get-rich schemes. Even if I did come up with the ultimate idea, I would not have the financial backing or the sales pitch skills to procure said financial backing, and my idea would evaporate like a snowflake in July.

Continuing with the idea fan club, I would like to focus now on the developers and the clients of such cash cows as “Go Fund Me”. This is one of several similar programs out there, but I am most familiar with this one. The idea behind this was and still is genius. It can be extremely helpful and humanitarian. The program is basically an electronic way to collect donations. If you are not familiar, let me explain. Let’s say long-time town residents Beth and Tom Little (the names are changed to protect pretty much anyone who fits this description) wake up to a burning house in the middle of the night. They escape with their lives, but tragically lose all of their household possessions in the blaze. Alas, Beth and Tom had no insurance because while I was sacrificing pairs of shoes, great lattes and an occasional meal at Olive Garden each month to pay for my homeowner’s insurance, they were buying a boat and a camper to go to the lake every weekend and could not afford insurance. Oh, did I write that out loud?  There is a time and place for the “Go Fund Me” account, for which I will give acknowledgement and apologies later. But for the sake of explanation now, I will continue with this example. Anyway, as Tom and Beth’s friend, I will set up a “Go Fund Me” account online and post it out there on social media, or perhaps I will even text the link or have it published in print as well so that acquaintances and random folks alike can all read Tom and Beth’s story. They can then help them out by using their credit cards or PayPal accounts to electronically give to this account, and at the end of whatever giving period is determined, the money can be withdrawn via check or electronically transferred to the bank. “Go Fund Me” promises to be safe and electronically secure (see Wikileaks, identity theft, and snake oil).

If I had a clue or even cared a whole lot who the genius behind this endeavor is or was, I would share it with you for complete admiration. Alas, I do not know, but I do know that it is run by a team of people in San Diego, which could mean it is a millennial and his dog who got the idea while trying to figure out how to amass enough money to move out of his mother’s basement. Said person now most likely lives in a high rise condo and watches all Chargers’ games from a skybox. You see, for every donation collected on “Go Fund Me’, 5% is kept by the program administrator. There is no charge to set up an account. There is no upfront money involved. All fees are deducted from the amount donated. Oh, and did I fail to mention that “a small processing fee of about 3% will also be deducted from each donation”? (Go Fund Me page) I will be the first to admit that math is not my strong suit, but the expenses for this endeavor to be up and running seem relatively minimal. Step 1: have the idea. Step 2: write or have someone write and develop the program on a web page. Steps 1 and 2 are often my downfall for getting rich, but for someone with investment capital, it is a breeze. Step 3: use a good internet security program. Step 4: sit back and collect and distribute vast amounts of money. Step 5: Blow the minds of people like me! This program has helped causes, some of them very legitimate, raise over a billion dollars. Look at this bottom line: 8% of that is $80,000,000, less expenses, of course. Just ruminate over the fact that the program has done this in its 10 years of existence! Let’s just say that I have about $800 that I have saved up in 10 years.

Now I truly believe that there are deserving causes out there. I was a bit harsh on “Tom and Beth”, but I do understand that there are people that cannot afford renters’ insurance or health insurance.  I totally get it when people raise money to help pay medical expenses for people who have cancer or other life-threatening illnesses. Some places won’t even consider doing an organ transplant until you have so much money up front. Other times a person would like to have a life-saving treatment that insurance refuses to cover. Just let me say that I am completely on board with that.  I sometimes donate to the Wildheart Ranch wildlife rescue, which I find to be a very worthy cause.

Not that a person is ever obligated to participate in any campaign, but some things just make me question humanity, scratch my head and want to slap an idiot. There are some real pages out there where people have asked for such things as boob jobs for self or girlfriend, extra cash for concert tickets, and money for recreational drugs (Is there such a thing as being too honest? At least there is no intent to commit fraud, just to break a host of other laws). Perhaps I am becoming an old curmudgeon, but let’s look at a few things that I personally have been invited to fund, and not by relatives, mind you:  school trips, weddings, college, burial expenses, vacations and cell phones. None of those are bad things. These are causes that I think are unnecessary for others to pick up the tab. School trips:  I will pay much more than what it is worth for a box of chocolates to help your organization raise money for your trip. I will also help by paying for a poorly executed car wash in order to help your team buy jerseys or go to summer tournaments. But I will not just give you money when you are not willing to work for it. Weddings and vacations: last time I checked the Justice of the Peace was affordable for about anyone. If you don’t have the money for a bigger wedding, wait and get married after you have earned your own money for it. College money: take out loans up to your eyeballs like the rest of the world. It is not my job to put you through college.

As a bandwagoner and a person who can never figure out how to increase my own personal wealth without actually working at it, I have decided that I might create my own funding page to bank roll my casino trips, my need to try out new restaurants, a maid (I really need one of these, and it would help the person I employ as well: win/win), and an $8000 massage chair that I am convinced will change my life. Oh, and I might need some of those age reversing formulas sold on the infomercials, like the one to do away with crepey skin. They tell me I can look like Cindy Crawford (although at 5’4”, I am not sure how that serum can make me 5’10’, not to mention skinny and beautiful). I could use that, but it is pretty cost prohibitive. Maybe I should call that account the “As Seen on TV” account, and it would give me the money to buy so many of those great infomercial products!  I know what you are thinking: “I, too, could use a Shark vacuum”, or most likely, “Good mother of a goat, woman, go fund yourself!”