Almost daily I receive a request to “partner” with someone by giving them money. I’ll be tagged in a Go Fund Me event page, or see a Kickstarter post on my Facebook wall. Does anyone else feel like this has gotten out of hand?
There are some ridiculous funding requests out there. While researching this topic, I came across a few I thought were worth sharing. Feel free to donate to these folks as you feel led:
1. Man tries to crowdfund a $15,000 engagement ring.
2. A group is trying to build a pyramid of “Jerry Maguire” video tapes in the desert. They are seeking $400,000.
3. A campaign titled “I honestly just want money.” He is seeking $50 for booze and gas money.
4. Funding requested for a graduation present, a “gap year” between high school and college, even though “she does not know where exactly she is going yet.”
5. A gaming system is needed for $349, and it’s time sensitive. The recipient is about to become a father and needs to get as much gaming in as possible before the baby arrives.
I think most of us would agree these funding requests are simply absurd. We would roll our eyes and say, “Get a job.” But when people are asking for money to go build a well in Africa or serve the poor in Haiti, it is different. It’s a little more grey than it is black and white. Is this request wrong? Should we be giving money to everyone who asks us? If we don’t, are we stingy jerks?
Long before Facebook and mass emails there were letters. I myself have sent out a few support letters, asking friends and family to help fund a missions trip or an opportunity I couldn’t afford on my own. I was encouraged to do this, to allow people the opportunity to invest in me and the work God was going to do on that trip. This is Biblical, right? Churches in Biblical history supported their missionaries, and they were reprimanded when they weren’t generous in their giving. I think it’s a wonderful thing when people can give financially, especially when they aren’t able to go be the one doing the missions work. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with people giving to others; in fact I think it’s one of the best things you can do.
Here’s where it starts to rub me the wrong way. When you’re asking to “partner” with me for your epic trip abroad; are you sacrificing too? Because if I give money to you, I can guarantee it’s a sacrifice. It means I won’t have that extra cash to go out to dinner with, or to buy my son the nice pair of sneakers he wants, or take my weekly indulgent Starbucks trips. In some cases, it means I cut our family budget in big ways to contribute to your cause. Many times, this is worth it. It is a beautiful thing to give to others. Unfortunately I think our culture has taken this and made it into something not so pretty. It’s when the students ask for money again, but you know they don’t have part-time jobs to help contribute to their trip. Or that college student wants you to support them, but you know they have a much nicer car you could ever afford! Or the family that wants to go to Disney World, as if that’s the right of every American family. What about the lady who needs money for her dog’s surgery? There’s the couple that needs money for their elaborate wedding; because everyone deserves the wedding of their dreams! Or your friend who wants to get a special degree, but can’t afford it because they don’t have a job. It’s the attitude of the “asker.” The thought that they must be deserving of your hard-earned money. I don’t think any of us deserve to study abroad or do missions work in a foreign land. These are amazing opportunities, and if you get to do it, I’m slightly jealous.
None of these things are wrong. Trips, education, even fancy weddings are all good things. It’s the attitude that frustrates me. The attitude of entitlement. If I feel inclined to give you money for that missions trip to Hawaii, that’s awesome! If you set up a Go Fund Me for that trip, and expect it to be paid for in full without your participation, that’s not awesome. I think there needs to be sacrifice on your part. It should hurt a little. You might have to sell some of your belongings, work an extra job, make some unique crafts to sell, babysit, save up your Starbucks money for a few months. You get the idea. But if you can’t afford it, or aren’t willing to work for it, maybe you should slow down and question the timing.
Before you send me a nasty email or post a rude comment, hear me out. As a Christian, I know God can provide us with all the money in the world. He’s done it for me time and time again. When I was not deserving. When I had an entitled attitude. When I had the wrong motives and only wanted to go on a missions trip to be with the cute boys. When I expected my trip to be paid for by everyone but me. He calls people to these opportunities and money is provided miraculously. But sometimes He wants us to work, to sacrifice, to provide for ourselves. He knows that working and saving produces diligence and responsibility, that it gives us a greater appreciation for the good things in life.
In this “Go Fund Me Culture,” it’s difficult to navigate what causes are worth the sacrifice and which are not. Sometimes it’s exhausting and eye-rolling, and sometimes it’s goosebumps and welled up eyes. As long as none of us are contributing to the Jerry Maguire pyramid, it’s our path to navigate and discern; to enjoy giving and being generous, to have a humble and thankful spirit.