A few years ago my friend Shawn’s house burned down. His employer, Linux Journal put up a Chip In page to get them some cash for things like clothes etc. and then put up a web page to spread the word.
Within days people from all over had contributed over $11,000 in cash, plus technology items like laptops and phones were mailed to him. It was an amazing display of community rallying around someone they loved and respected. It really inspired me.
Recently Juston Tadlock asked the community to help him make the down payment on a house. This is obviously different from people spontaneously giving money to a friend in tragedy, but the result was similar.
Justin had a need, the house wouldn’t be available for long, and he needed cash right away. It also wasn’t “gifts”. He was asking for a loan from people, to be paid off in time, energy, knowledge, and wisdom. It worked for several reasons:
- People like him, he’s a nice guy
- In the past he’s given an enormous amount of time, energy, knowledge and wisdom to the community, thereby enhancing the lives of literally millions of people.
- As I mentioned above, he didn’t simply say “Hey everyone, give me money!” Intead he said “Friends, I need help, I’m willing to help back when I can”
Recently Chris Lema tweeted that he’d like a new computer. He even joked that it could be crowd funded. Not long after, Justin Sainton put up a CrowdTilt page to have the community buy Chris that computer.
I don’t really know Chris, but I’ve read his blog, seen his tweets, and his generosity is legendary. I’m pretty confident he could have bought this himself. I’m also pretty sure he didn’t buy it himself because it wasn’t a need, and he’s financially educated enough to know you don’t just go buy a $5500 computer because it’s shiny.
To be very clear, Chris never asked for other people to run a crowd funding event to get him a computer. His friends did it because they love him. He’s a great guy who’s given much to the community. I’m sure if I asked Chris would agree with me that the real benefits of generosity are spiritual and emotional. But sometimes they’re a Mac Pro.
Topher’s Petty Issues
When I hear stories like Shawn’s I think “I wonder if anyone would do that for my family?” Sometimes I look at my mortgage stretching out ahead of me for decades and think about what it would be like if hundreds of strangers got together and paid it off.
Then I think about how blessed I am to not need that. My daughter’s arm got chewed by a dog, but it turns out someone else’s insurance is going to pay for all of it. My furnace died on Christmas day. But I was able to get a new one in such a way that I’ll have to cut back on eating out this year.
That’s not hardship. That’s an opportunity to learn to enjoy, nay, rejoice in what I do have. I just need to look at it from the right perspective.
Could I crowdfund my mortgage? Maybe. But I feel like it would be wrong to ask. So many other people need so much more than I do.
I do love the excitement of watching a thermometer fill up though, so maybe I’ll start a fund to pay off someone else’s mortgage.