Ask for millions and you shall receive

Panhandlers ask for spare change. GoFundMe shoots for millions.

Reaching across the country into other continents, GoFundMe offers exposure to a wider array of prospective donors with varying incomes. It begs tirelessly around the clock with less tending than a potted petunia. Establishing a platform involves composing an attractive computer webpage that milks PayPal accounts, even those with no solid notion if the need is credible, then waiting for the dollars to pour in. And pour in they do.

Panhandlers such as those who show up at your truck window in a supermarket’s parking lot when you’re about to drive home can canvass only a limited number of “marks” in 24 hours, one mark at a time, walking distances in between. You have a chance to assess their sincerity. Often they claim they need a meal – and knowing any money you give them may well morph into liquor, if you’re inclined to give, you can accompany them to a nearby takeout and pay for their order. I doubt a hamburger and double-double will swap for a beer.

Whereas bad weather may deter panhandlers, online begging operates at top click regardless of season, temperature, weather or hour.

GoFundMe campaigns have been set up for all sorts of contrived needs, from fictitious cancer care to vacation trips. A campaign’s integrity seems not to be investigated. GoFundMe, a for-profit company, skims five per cent off donations raised with a 2.9 per cent payment-processing fee collected on each donation, along with 30 cents for every donation. That means if a campaign raised $1,000 through 10 donations of $100 each, GoFundMe would collect about $82.

These begging sites pop up with stunning speed. Inside of 12 hours after a disaster they can be up and running, raking in the money of sympathetic folk who trust they are easing a victim’s suffering by lifting some of the financial load.

A scammer targeted a Humboldt Broncos junior hockey player only days after the highway accident killed 16 of his team players and left him paralyzed from the chest down. A fake GoFundMe account used his name, photo, and team photo. Alerted to the scam, the player’s father contacted the originator of the fake site, asked him to meet near the hospital “where we’ll be closer to the emergency room.” The site was quickly dismantled, but just proves how scammers lurk, ever alert to opportunity.

I can see the benefit of a GoFundMe donation site if the need is legitimate – for instance paying for the Humboldt Broncos’ funerals, a sudden expense no family could or would ever be prepared for. But to seek public donations for every wish or want demonstrates how little pride some people have in supporting themselves and living within their means.

“GoFundMe has been used by people to raise money for themselves, a loved one, or a friend in need during life’s most important moments,” Google says. “This can include anything from medical expenses, education costs, trips and aspirations, volunteer programs, youth sports, funerals and memorials, or animals and pets.”

That category “trips and aspirations” zips my wallet against all GoFundMe campaigns.

At least if I hand over cash to a panhandler I can assess their need based on physical appearance and clothing, sincerity based on demeanour, and upbringing as shown by politeness and appreciation.

GoFundMe with PayPal’s ease of payment has turned us into a society living by Broadway’s sentiment, “Whatever Lola Wants, Lola Gets”.

No desire is too lofty if a GoFundMe campaign will fork over the dollars no questions asked.

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