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  • got a grand for my cat's gap year? the unstoppable rise of 'i want' crowdfunding | technology

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See the news got a grand for my cat's gap year? the unstoppable rise of 'i want' crowdfunding | technology from Source New York Times on 24/08/2019 has been updated to day with the theme on feedixo.

got a grand for my cat's gap year? the unstoppable rise of 'i want' crowdfunding | technology

Iwan Carrington wanted AirPods but he couldn’t afford them, and for most 16-year-old boys that’s where the story would end. Since their release in December 2016, Apple’s £199 wireless Bluetooth earbuds have become a status symbol among teens: after all, only the wealthy can afford tiny, untethered headphones that are so easy to lose. As an ordinary Welsh schoolboy, Carrington wasn’t rich enough to buy them, and he was growing increasingly jealous of his friend’s pair. So in January this year, he came up with a solution.With just a few clicks on his computer, Carrington created a page on the crowdfunding website GoFundMe, set a fundraising goal of £100 (he had saved the rest from Christmas), and titled it simply and honestly: “I am desperate for AirPods. Help a brother out.” The plea was simple and unvarnished: “I am like any other teenager except I would love some Apple AirPods. I was sat on the bus untangling my earphone wires and thought how great it would be to have AirPods. I ask for any help. Please.” The first comment underneath was similarly direct: “This is a shameless act of self-promotion. I totally support it.” Eight donors and a few days later, Carrington had raised the money he needed.For close to a decade, GoFundMe has allowed ordinary people to crowdfund their needs, ranging from medical bills to tuition fees to emergency expenses. As the internet’s largest crowdfunding platform, the site has raised more than $7bn since 2010, with one-third of all donations going towards people’s healthcare costs. Yet while the site helps many in times of crisis, it increasingly hosts a vast number of campaigns that are less about people in need and more about “people in want”.I rang Carrington to ask if he felt cheeky requesting money from friends, family and strangers online – after creating the page, he shared it on social media and via email. “At the start, yeah,” he says. “But when I actually got my AirPods I thought, ‘Never mind, I like this.’” He had already checked the site to see if other people had run similar campaigns, and knew he wasn’t the first; at the time of writing, GoFundMe had 4,649 results for the search term “AirPods”. “It made me feel comfortable doing it.”The means by which we can solicit and donate cash or gifts have grown increasingly imaginativeCarrington adds that the people who donated were mainly businessmen and women – family friends – who could afford to. “I don’t feel guilty because they’re not exactly poor – they weren’t giving away their life savings.” His mother, Abi Jenkins, who is 36 and works in the travel industry, tells me she didn’t know about her son’s plan until she got the email inviting her to donate. Was she embarrassed? “I initially thought it was a bit cheeky. But at the same time I thought, I’ve always encouraged the children to be entrepreneurial.”In recent years, there has been a distinct cultural and psychological shift when it comes to crowdfunding. Where once only those with the saddest stories and the rarest illnesses felt comfortable asking the internet for money, there are now endless campaigns for endless causes. When I looked on GoFundMe there were 675 results for “boob job”, 5,209 for “Xbox”, and 47 people looking to raise the cash for “Louis Vuitton bag”. “Ever since I was a pre-teen my wish has been to own a designer handbag,” reads one page. But not every post flies: in four months, the Louis Vuitton request has raised just $150 of its $1,000 goal.There are thousands of similar campaigns stuck at the £0 mark. No one has yet coughed up a penny of the £300,000 required to “Get Dan a Lamborghini”, despite the promised free ride. Yet requests like Carrington’s – those that are honest, funny and realistic – are becoming increasingly successful. A Scot has so far raised £22,827 to “help” his new cat Nala travel the world on the front of his bike. His goal was £6,000. Over the course of 12 hours in June, more than $5,000 was raised for a waitress who claimed she had been fired after spitting on Donald Trump’s son, Eric. That same month, donors raised £59,000 to pay the legal fees of a London cyclist who had collided with a woman who was looking at her phone while crossing the road. More than 4,000 people donated via a page set up by his friend, raising more than double the requested sum, even though the judge ruled both parties equally responsible for the accident. From bankrolling new products on Kickstarter to supporting artists with a monthly donation via Patreon, there is now a platform for everything (the Guardian has been asking readers for donations since 2016). Ko-fi allows “all kinds of creators” to ask people to support their work by donating the price of a coffee; OnlyFans is popular with models and sex workers, who can share videos and pictures for cash; Unbound enables readers to back a book before it’s published. Crowdfunding has its dark side, too: from 2017 to 2018, Hatreon enabled white supremacists to make a living from their hate speech. The site took $25,000 a month in donations before Visa suspended its services. Iwan Carrington (above) turned to GoFundMe when he couldn’t afford to buy wireless earbuds. Photograph: Abi Jenkins The means by which we can solicit and donate cash or gifts have grown increasingly imaginative. People can remotely send one another pints (or portions of peas) via an app created by the Wetherspoon’s pub chain: you post your table number and pub name, and let friends or strangers send you gifts from the bar or kitchen. You’ll be hard-pressed to find a viral tweet that isn’t followed up with a cheeky link to the tweeter’s Cash App, Amazon Wishlist or PayPal. An Uber driver who shared the playlists he created for customers in 2018 earned over 200,000 likes on Twitter, and followed up by asking his new fans to “send me $5” (online magazine Slate has dubbed this “the Twitter Invoice”).When did asking strangers for money stop being embarrassing? Elizabeth Gerber, a professor at Northwestern University, Illinois, who has been studying crowdfunding for more than 10 years, argues that today’s shift can be attributed to two technological changes: the increasing ease with which we can safely transfer money online; and the ability we now have to reach anyone on the internet. “There’s an increased comfort with giving money online, and consequently, the comfort with asking has increased as well,” she explains. “As it becomes more and more normalised, people feel able to ask anyone for anything.”Gerber’s research has found that people like to make charitable donations online because their name becomes visibly associated with a cause; on many crowdfunding sites, donors are listed down the righthand side of the campaign page. She adds that for all requests people tend to dip into their spare cash, money they’d typically use for leisure activities. “They’re donating money they’d normally use to go to the movies or a concert,” she says, noting that crowdfunding pages like Carrington’s provide their own form of entertainment in return for cash.There are social as well as technological factors driving the boom in online giving and receiving. Gerber notes that, in a world where social media has taught us to exchange likes and comments, it is almost natural that we should begin exchanging money, too. “If you post something on Facebook and somebody likes it, there’s a pressure to respond – and that pressure has increased over time.” She says that people tend to give reciprocally, sometimes donating the exact amounts they have received from friends.In the face of budget cuts, British schools are now using Amazon Wishlists to crowdfund their classroom needsCrowdfunding is nothing new. The plinth for the Statue of Liberty was paid for by 160,000 donors in the 1880s, and we have collectively donated towards non-necessities like weddings for centuries. The digital revolution began in 2000, when solicitor Zarine Kharas approached Belgian businesswoman Anne-Marie Huby, head of the UK arm of Médecins Sans Frontières, and launched JustGiving, a platform that allowed anyone to raise money for charitable causes. The website now gives users two options: you can “fundraise” for a charity, or “crowdfund” for personal causes.Although the website remains far more charity-oriented than many other crowdfunding sites (results on searching “AirPods”: five), both the user and the consumer have changed significantly over the past 19 years, according to JustGiving’s UK general manager, Keith Williams. “It’s more social, more personal,” he says, explaining that a crowdfunding page for a personal cause can reach its targetin 30-33 days, while fundraising for charity often takes longer, at more than 100 days. “It’s super-fast, super-viral,” he says of the personal campaigns. “They have four times more shares [than the charity requests], and the pages raise between 20 and 30% more.”Personal stories are at the heart of modern crowdfunding; since the early noughties, the language of need and necessities has been usurped by the language of hopes, dreams and desires. Take the man who raised more than £20,000 to travel with his cat. “Through Montenegro we explored abandoned villas and hidden beaches, with Nala on my shoulder through the good and the bad,” he wrote on his page. There are now 1,235 results for “backpacking” on GoFundMe, with headlines like “Help me chase my dreams” or “Being a backpacker is amazing but it is very expensive”.The launch of JustGiving inspired a number of other crowdfunding sites that were geared more towards creativity, rather than charity. In 2001, ArtistShare began allowing fans to finance musicians’ projects; in 2008 and 2009, IndieGoGo and Kickstarter, respectively, enabled ordinary people to fund their passion projects, launching their own businesses, products and services. These websites developed rewards-based models, whereby donors essentially became investors: months after their donation, they might receive an album or a new smartwatch in the post.When GoFundMe launched in 2010, it was the first mainstream service that didn’t require users to meet their funding goals in order to cash in their money, encouraging more people to solicit for more things. And without feeling the pressure to help a project reach its goals, donors could also give smaller amounts in a more spontaneous way.According to John Coventry, Europe and Australia director at GoFundMe, crowdfunding has moved beyond its utilitarian phase and evolved into an act of solidarity and...

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See the news got a grand for my cat's gap year? the unstoppable rise of 'i want' crowdfunding | technology from Source New York Times on 24/08/2019 has been updated to day with the theme on feedixo.

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