Trusting in a GoFundMe world: Chips with Everything podcast
The. The garden. It is the end of the summer two thousand fourteen I started to feel really tired for no good reason. And I was getting bit fat round the middle and appetite was sort of falling away a bit. So nothing kind of made sense. I think the thing that really made me realize something was wrong with the I was paying overtime. This is Emma halston an art director living in London. She was first diagnosed with cancer in two thousand fourteen I'm quite an optimist, and I know quite about cancer survival rates of much better these days. So my initial thought was a K doesn't mean you're definitely gonna die. But then she told me that it was this type of cancer that was very and had very poor prognosis Emma was told she had small cell carcinoma of the ovary, hyper calcemic type which is not only extremely rare, but has no standard treatments. I tried not scuba it for awhile. But then when I did it was it was literally the most awful moment of my life. Find out sort of results of other patients had gone through. So I realized as against quite challenge. The original tumor was removed through surgery and Emma, then went through six months of chemotherapy at the end of this treatment. There was no sign of the disease will there. She was delighted hit that news. Emma, had also been told that was a strong possibility of the cancer returning it grows, very fast. So at one point we really tracking growing about sent me to a week. We're keeping an eye on things every three months we'd go back in for scans. But because it's such a fast growing cancer. And I was still a camp the signs as well. It kind of grew back quite quickly inbetween scans. So we missed it until I went in. At the point when the tomb agree back. Emma, had a busy career and she and her partner Matt were in the middle of planning their wedding. Doctors told her that the treatment used the last time wasn't an option again on though is to me a drug trial Amina therapy, which seems to be the right sort of things to do. And this drug Troy was valuable in my hospital. So it's amazing free. But it was an experiment. Ceo. You'll starting a drug the Reno due to you bye gave that go. And after only a few weeks, it was causing terrible side effects and clearly not working for me. So we were forced into the situation of giving him in therapy guy. Immunotherapy is covered by the NHS for a number of cancers such as some lung cancers melanoma, but not Amazon because of its rarity. So I was cool in this conundrum of being a reckon. Sir. Weddings on really license. So there's not a standard treatment for them. So I have to pay for it. The cost of meaner therapy. Treatment is extremely high with the administration costs as well. We worked out about one hundred and fourteen thousand a year, and at that point somebody it sort of told us that if it was successful. I might be on that treatment for years. On top of feeling physically. Unwell Emma now needed to find a way to raise hundreds of thousands of pounds. I think being British you hate asking for money. I'm not something ever us money all wants to borrow money from people by realized it was such an amount of money that even with all my savings and everything combined probably wouldn't have to carry on paying the drug. So it just so happens coincide with a wedding. And people started saying, what do you want as wedding present? And we have like, oh, we'll really need some money. So a few friends started coming up with ideas of fundraising since we start thinking if we put together a fund may Cy aura sort of fundraising site, and we all these things in one place, and it would be make it easy for people m wrote up her story to explain why this campaign was so important, and why any donation would help ease stresses we were in a really tough spot at that point. And I remember going. Hospital and having really difficult conversations with doctors. And then we we happen to check one of those days and the favorite jumped right up to an amount of money that was gonna make such a huge difference to us more than twelve thousand people donated two hundred sixty three thousand pounds Amazon campaign, something she still can't quite get ahead around even two years into remission. And also, I think because all those people are so willing you on it's like such goodwill and such positive wishes for you. I think so gave me rule boost mentally which I think help physically and Emma's experience with gofundme me isn't rare. We've heard more than five billion dollars donated over the years to go from campaigns more than fifty million donors, and it's safe to say that we have tens of millions of people who donate to campaigns on an annual basis crowdfunding platforms like fund me have shown just how generous people can be to complete strangers. But it raises the question just how do people on these online platforms managed to gain our trust? I'm Jordan Erika Weber, and this is chips with everything. Online crowdfunding. I started appearing around the turn of the millennium with big crowd funding websites. Like indigo kick starter. And go fund me launching at the end of the last decade. Artists. Amuses have used these platforms together funds for book or an album people like Emma have raised money for medical treatments almost anyone can use these sites and not a way for something so wholesome when the English far right activists told me Robinson was jailed in may twenty thousand nine a contempt of court some of his followers used crowdfunding platforms to try to raise money to freed him. He was released on Vail in August. Twentieth. Teen and released from that bail in November. But it's not known if any of the money raised contributed to his release. So where do these websites come from? I'm rob Solomon. And I am the CEO at go fund me gay fund me is one of the biggest crowd funding platforms out there. It was created by Brad damn house and Andrew Balassa back in twenty ten. Producer Danielle rang robe at the company Silicon Valley offices in California, and he told her more about its inception. Wanted to come up with a way for immediate friends family local communities to come together to help pay for things and it didn't have an express purpose in in solving healthcare funding or or emergency related funding. It just took on a life of its own overtime. But they were just very keen on creating friction list platform that help people raise money when other people needed help quick quickly. Exactly k fund me can currently be used to stop campaigns in nineteen countries. But the company has recorded donations coming in from more than one hundred fifty countries people create campaigns for all sorts of reasons. The biggest categories are people who need help with medical related expenses. Then comes emergencies things like floods and wildfires. Unexpected emergencies memorials would be the third largest category. And. Then it breaks off into many different things. So education is is a big category. Where I need help to pay for my college education. I've been accepted into a study abroad program, but I can't afford to get their education is big one community related projects are very big things related to new story that brought to lots of people to the website was the partial government shutdown in the United States in January two thousand nineteen which left eight hundred thousand federal workers without work for more than a month. You're the government does a great example of that. We've had more than fifteen hundred campaign started on the platform more than half a million dollars raised already. And then we have this non of moments out there that become movement so early in twenty eight teen the times up movement kicked off with the award season in Hollywood. And and some of the most powerful woman women in Hollywood created times movement, and it became the largest campaign. We've had on our platforms over twenty two million dollars. And it's still an. Campaign and we see people donating a year later everyday to the campaign so moments become movements. And that's really interesting phenomenon. That's just getting started in last year or so. Of course, go fund me needs to make its own money to Emma told us that when she set a perk on pain, go fund me to percentage as payment. But last year, they changed their business model the old business model, we would take a five percent fee from the campaigns that ran on the platform, and we started to think a lot about you know, what is the best thing we can do for the campaign organizers, and these are folks who are raising money in very desperate situations. And we switched the model to a free model where all of the money raised goes to the campaign organizer and we asked donors for voluntary tip during the checkout process. And of course, on top of that is a credit card processing fee, but you buy large all the money goes to the campaign organizer, minus credit card processing fee fund me has also started looking at ways to make the website more trustworthy. We've seen new stories about people making up stories to elicit sympathy and raise money for a bogus. Pain. So although it's foolproof the company has been working on it security strategy. We aren't the arbiter of whether it causes good 'cause are worthy caused that's up to the communities of people who come together around these causes. So what we do is. We have a trust and safety team. We have something called the gofundme guarantee. We have a lot of. Tools in place to evaluate campaigns. We use machine learning artificial intelligence, we use a lot of technology to vet campaigns will look at the body language of of a campaign, and we'll use our machine learning and a I techniques to figure out what might be the purpose of this campaign. We wanna make sure that if somebody says they're raising money for someone else that in fact, we know who that other person is so we have a lot of safeguards in place to protect people that we've gotten really good at using a combination of technology process and people to these campaigns to see if any of these campaigns are violating our terms of service if they are violating the terms of service, they're removed. We also have this community. That's fifty million people strong, perhaps even more than that who let us know if something doesn't look, right. So there's a lot going on behind the scenes to keep the platform safe. At the essence of what's most important. Go fund me is is trust. Let's talk about trust. When I first started spending a lot of time online as child around the turn of the century. I was told to be careful who I spoke to and what infomation I gave them. So how have we ended up feeling confident enough to give money to complete strangers online through these images through these stories that people also share these crowdfunding platforms people become very close. And also, essentially very trusting off these people, even though they don't essentially, no that person more on that. After this short break. I'm leland. And in this month, we need to talk about pocus out panel respond to Godley supposed to questions on education. How can countries around the will take the politics out of their education systems? How can we grow in Cape? How teaches and give them greater ownership of their profession. And with the creative arts being sidelined in the curriculum. How can we poll wellbeing in schools? That's we need to talk about education have listen head. Visit guardian dot com slash costs. Welcome back to chips with everything. I'm Jordan Erika Weber this week. We're looking at crowdfunding platforms and how the people who used them to raise money are able to gain our trust. I'm not really sure if we trust people more online. I don't think there is actually a change. But I mean, we do trust people, and we do trust people depending on how to present themselves stoke to kunia Raza Kosta is electric in digital methods in digital humanities at King's College London. So online you will see that loads of people. The upload pictures of themselves upload videos, and that gives us an opportunity as an audience to God that a lot of information about these people. So you're this paper and 2016 about getting data on social relationships. An in it Ye wrote online forms of social interaction require a new understanding of an ext. Tended and disembodied sociology. Can you explain what you meant? What I meant. So traditionally when we talk about social relationships, we think of the relationship, I have let's my mother was my best friends, and what we see with this relationships the all have narrative. Yeah. So do you have all formed over time? We note he's people for a long time. We probably talked to them quite frequently. And we also liked him very much. So this is our traditional understanding of how we create relationships and naturally what we do consider usually as conducive to forming. These relationships is sort of like shared social space. So we meet with somebody in a cafe, we I don't know have dinner together online does this different because we don't share a physical space. But that doesn't mean that we do not establish intimacy with people the successive online fundraising campaigns raises. The question of whether our concept of a social relationship has changed. I don't think it has changed as such. I think people Wendy speak off their best friends of the people. They are very close to. I think nowadays still people think a lot about a very small number of people those people that are most important to them. And usually they will have also known these people for quite a long time. But what we also see a set people maintain more relationships at are fleeting. Typically, when you ask a person, how many friends do you have day would mention a small number of friends? But when you say how many I mean, that's also the tricky bit. How do you ask somebody how many people do, you know online? Most people will give your number. But that doesn't mean to those people are friends those people are there to catch up with. So it has become a lot easier through these online tools to contact and get in touch with these people and then. Can get out of touch with these people again, but it's not considered a problem. But when we speak about traditional close intimate social relationships, I think how people think about these types of relations that remains still very much same. Earlier in the show. We heard from real Solomon the CEO of go fund me he says one of the most surprising phenomena to rise from the website is moment to movement Cornelia explains. Why these movements able to gain much traction not only on websites like refund me, but on social media in general, it is definitely easier especially when it's about verse specific events. So if we say, we have we organized rally or a protest today to support women's rights or to support specific social group because Dan, you can communicate to a vast number of people that may be followed at hashtag metoo and informed him about with happening. So it's become a lot easier to reach out to a large number of individuals to keep them posted about what's going on at the beginning of the show. We heard from Emma halston more than twelve thousand people donate. Added to campaign raising two hundred sixty three thousand pounds the concentrate -ment say let's compare that to something like homelessness for say, we don't know whether those people who Des need to campaign would give money to people on the street. But I feel like we can know that that isn't a single person out there sleeping on the street who has managed to raise two hundred sixty three thousand pounds. So why is it the own line campaigns? Where the beneficiary isn't there right in front of you raise more money than real life human being on the street. I would say that these people who start gofundme campaign like Emma, for example, day are not perceived stranger by all these people who decided to to donate to her campaign because through her sharing her story through her updates on her condition sharing a little bit of context of how how it even happened. How she was diagnosed all. All these gave people in tune ity to form sort of like intimate bond with her through these images through the stories that people also share these crowdfunding platforms people become very close. And also, essentially very trusting off these people, even though they don't essentially, no that person I wonder if there's something in a comparison to ghosting, for instance, you talk about how it's it's much easier to break off relationships that you foam on line because you can just you know, you just not replace them message, and you never bump into them. Maybe that's a similar thing with crowdfunding with someone online who you you're never going to meet you can just donate the money and then forget about them. But if it's a person on the street that you won't pasta every day. Maybe you give them ten pounds. But then you see them again the next day. Do you think that contributes? So sometimes when we see a person in real life. We feel a certain obligation, especially when we see that person again to kind of maybe. Asked him how you doing today? So all these are forms of investments relational investments that maybe not everybody is prepared to give. And you're right online. All that's not the case. I donate my money. I can feel good about myself. And I have essentially done a good deed. Yeah. I've helped person who's obviously in need of support. So I can feel good about myself. But I don't necessarily have to invest a huge amount of relational energy and further sustaining that bond with that particular person. Do you think crowdfunding platforms remain popular in two very popular? We will see many people amateurs who produce content who develop products who maybe have an idea, but lack financial capital to maybe get ideas started. They will all go to crafting platforms to ask the people who share a similar interest for help. And we will see that happening more and more in the future. That's all for this week huge. Thanks to Emma, halston, robe, Solomon, and Cornelia razor Costa for talking to us this week. From next week. You'll find us in your pocus feed on Monday, which means if you're listening to this episode on the day it came out, and you only have to wait three days for the next one. So to brighten up the start of your week, make sure to listen to the latest digital coacher news on Monday mornings from now on and thanks to guardian jokes which spokes at this week's episode of chips got in jobs can help you. Find your good company at G. You dot com slash good company. I'm Eric Webber. Thanks for listening. For movement put costs from the guardian. Just go to the guardian dot com slash put costs.