Online fundraising moves society forward



By now, many of us have seen and been amazed by the story of James Robertson, the Detroit man whose 21-mile trek to work inspired a page that raised $350,001.

This story encompasses the beginning of what could be an incredible transition in our society—the assumption of responsibility, by the masses, to support each other, instead of the traditional idea that philanthropy is solely the responsibility of the upper classes or government.

Fundraising online has expanded the possibilities for many people to reach larger crowds than they could have by word of mouth. Because of it, wonderful people like Robertson can afford necessities like a car to get to work.

The traffic generated by sites like, and the like is incredible; other sites like Twitter and Facebook further draw in traffic.

Our generation has been referred to as one of the most socially alienated, but what critics fail to realize is that we are connected — not necessarily face-to-face, but certainly online.

In the past, organizations have tried other methods to reach the masses, like guilt-ridden commercials that are the epitome of sorrow: starving children, sad dogs and Sarah McLachlan’s music.

I don’t know exactly how successful these campaigns became because the second I recognized the telltale “In the arms of the angel…,” I changed the channel.

What I have noticed about these sites is that the campaign goals are reachable, and the campaigners don’t use guilt tactics to try and force money from the people. People are warmed by the thought of giving to a person, animal or cause instead of feeling helpless at the thought that even if they do donate, it will not make up the difference of what is actually required to end homelessness or hunger or whatever plight has stricken the world.

This doesn’t mean we should give up hope that these world crises will ever be solved. Instead, I think this should give us hope that one day they may see an end. The current production of food worldwide is enough to support the dietary needs of everyone on the planet, but it doesn’t because we don’t have the resources to redistribute the excess food that would otherwise go to waste.

But what if we could find ways to redistribute food resources as we have with money? The globalization and interconnectedness that we benefit from so much in the U.S. could be used to upset the great disparity of food distribution around the world.

Seeing our society make this wonderful change to support people just like us, near and far, is such an encouraging indicator of the progressive direction humanity is moving in. It is far from perfect, but all it takes is a little hope to make big strides, and if our generation has an abundance of anything, it is hope.