Stop Asking People to Fund Your Stupidity

Nearly 41% of all Americans don't have enough money to cover a $1,000 emergency. We're one car breakdown, ER visit, or broken appliance away from serious financial troubles, and many of us don't have any way to dig ourselves out of that kind of deep hole.

Enter GoFundMe the crowd-sourced fundraising website that lets you ask people for money to cover expenses, raise capital for a worthy cause, or even to help cover an artistic project or new invention.

For example, a nonprofit that wants to raise $20,000 to build a park playground could use GoFundMe to ask people to donate and help them reach their goal. A musician who needs $5,000 to produce a new album could ask her fans to help cover the necessary costs.

And just like everything else that's good and wonderful in this world, there are plenty of people who are spoiled and entitled, or make bad decisions, and expect the world to bail them out.

I knew a couple who started a GoFundMe campaign to help them adopt a child, which is an admirable goal. Adoption isn't cheap, and you have to come up with your own money, which is what these people were doing. So they posted their campaign on Facebook. Just a couple short weeks after they had returned from their annual week-long Disney World vacation.

Rule #1 in asking for help? Make sure you cut frivolous spending down to a bare minimum before asking for help. If you're drinking Starbucks every day, and can't figure out why you're $200 short at the end of each month, maybe GoFundMe isn't for you.

But they're not the only ones. There are plenty of people who launched GoFundMe campaigns to cover some pretty harebrained schemes.

For example, rapper B.o.B. wants to prove the world is flat, so he's asking the Internet to help him raise $1 million. He plans to send satellites and weather balloons into space to "find the curve," which he thinks is the only real proof that the world is actually a sphere. He actually believes NASA employees are guarding the edge of the Earth to keep people from flying over it, and this is his way of finding proof.

Never mind that 1) there have been dozens of satellites and space missions that have accomplished the same thing, complete with photos, and 2) they all cost way more than $200,000.

B.o.B. has even been in the news trying to raise his money, but hasn't found much success. He started last September, but has only raised $7,000. If he were smart, he'd just buy a plane ticket and use it to fly to the edge of the world so he can take some pictures.

Or maybe he could ask for help from Rebecca G. who is asking for a mere $10,000 to take a "Soul Journey."

That's mystic hippy talk for a round-the-world trip — see, she gets it — that will allow her to "advance in her spiritual journey."

That's mystic hippy talk for "free vacation."

Rebecca calls herself a spiritual teacher, life coach, traveler, artist, writer, and crystal healer — which is not a real thing. She says she likes sharing these gifts and would like to give them freely.

That's mystic hippy talk for "I'm not actually sure this is worth paying attention to."

Therein lies the problem. I know plenty of teachers, life coaches, and writers who actually make enough at to support themselves like adults. These aren't gifts from rainbow-farting unicorns, to be scattered like magical fairy dust. If you want to travel as a teacher, coach, or writer, then charge people to be a teacher, coach, or writer.

Rebecca's wants us to give her $10,000 so she can help people "see the beautiful potential within themselves" and to "empower people to follow their dreams." Except she has only raised $1,200 people in 14 months, which tells me she's not very good at it.

Hey, you there. Yes, you, the one reading this column. You have beautiful potential within yourself and you have the universe's permission to follow your dreams. Go forth and be awesome.

See, I did that for free, and thanks to the Internet, I didn't have to even leave my house, let alone travel around the world for it.

One guy was so disgusted by Rebecca's mystic hippy entitlement that he wrote on her GoFundMe page: "Handouts are for those who cannot help themselves, not for privileged and able people like yourself. Hard work, independence and perseverance are virtues - learn them on your journey."

He donated $5 just so he could write that, and it may be the best $5 anyone ever spent.

I'm not saying people don't make mistakes or that we don't need help from time to time. Things go wrong, and sometimes we just need a little boost to get back on track. That way, when we're doing well, and someone else has a problem, we pay it forward and give them a little boost.

But that doesn't mean we have to support someone's idiotic decision, or when they're looking for a free ride because they're too delicate and entitled to go actually work hard at an actual job to achieve their goals.

There are people who work for dozens of years just to save up for retirement, or for that once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and they toil and sacrifice until they achieve it. They scrimp, save, and sacrifice until they earned what they needed to make their dream happen for themselves.

It's certainly a lot better than asking a bunch of strangers to chip in so you can take a soul journey around this flat disc we call Earth.

Photo credit: Alexandra Studios, City of Toronto Archives (Flickr, Creative Commons 2.0)

The 3rd edition of Branding Yourself is now available on and in your local Barnes & Noble bookstore.