Online Fundraising and crowdfunding, a way to deliver international development assistance
For quite a few years now, governments have relied on the act of just giving money to the poor as an important mechanism to improve the living conditions of people around the world. There are numerous successful examples of government programmes that have helped millions of people through what is known as Conditional Cash Transfers (also CCT). These are usually programmes in which a government gives money to people who meet a specific criteria, as long as they engage in activities that will serve for the public good, such as enrolling in school, get vaccinations, visit the doctor and so on.
When these programmes were started, they were perceived as outrageous by government bureaucrats and development specialists. After all, how are you just going to give money to the poor?. They will probably just spend it in alcohol, drugs, or in some other silly way. I suppose that in many ways, these ideas and judgements still resonate in our society. If you are someone that often gives money to the homeless, or to any person that is openly asking for it on the street, you might often face criticism as a someone who supports a workless life of drug addiction. This popular argument is usually more reflective of a person's ignorance than of the actual reality of homelessness.
Our meritocratic society has embedded in us a belief where money is is seen as the ultimate reward for merits. In many ways, this idea is projected in our judgements about the poor, often equating the lack of money as a result of an individual's unworthy behaviour, or in its worst manifestation, judging a person as an unworthy individual. In truth, poverty is a very complex phenomenon that cannot be simplified by making a shallow judgement, and the circumstances surrounding it often require an elaborate analysis in order to grasp its causes. When poverty is more widely understood, shallow explanations and judgements tend to dissapear. Crowdfunding platforms can be a tool to improve our understanding of poverty by providing a larger picture of a particular situation. Whenever a person or family starts a Crowdfunding campaign to solicit donations , they have an opportunity to fully express their situation, therefore communicating a better message that can tap into the sympathy of individuals, rather than to their shallow judgements about people in need.
The meritocratic paradigm can also be seen on the cash transfer programmes mentioned before. The willingness of a government to give money to the poor is only tied to a certain "worthy" behaviour. Whether it is going to school, visiting the doctor, taking some vitamins, etc. In many ways, understandably so, since it is public money that is being used and government bureaucrats would need to justify its use to the general public. While CCT programmes have helped millions, their weak side is that aid is politicized, monitoring compliance is costly,and aid is tied to a behaviour that does not necessarily encourage the creation of wealth, stripping the poor in many ways from their free will. Donation based Crowdfunding platforms can address these issues, as the conditionality of the transfer is taken away, leaving the person to freely decide the best way to use their funds. After all, it is each individual and its immediate circle who know best its skills and weaknesses, and how they can be used in their own environment. A government bureaucrat or NGO will just force aid recipients to follow a standard recipe that might not be suitable for all situations.
One of the reasons we started Doneet is for it to be used as a tool to empower and provide assistance to people. Whether it is in an emergency relief or humanitarian situation, we believe that unconditional giving is the best way to support people who need it the most. No agendas behind, no strings attached, simply goodwill and charitable assitance for people that can freely decide on their lives for themselves.