Fund My Career Change….And Babysitting….And Food…..And Rent

by admin on August 7, 2014

My husband got an invite to “donate” to a GoFundMe account from a former coworker. The ask? $20,000 for a Tattoo apprenticeship!

She is asking people to not only pay the $5,000 for the (2 year) apprenticeship, but childcare for her daughter, meals and rent during that time! Her husband is a tradesman (which, in our area of the country is a high demand, very well paid job market), so it’s not like they would be living on the street otherwise. We’re in Canada, so paying for health insurance and medications are not a huge concern.Â

As of today she’s received $50 of the $20,000 she’s asking for. 0806-14

{ 172 comments… read them below or add one }

Heather A August 7, 2014 at 2:49 pm

An old acquaintance has been posting GoFundMe requests for the last week to her Facebook asking for people to fund the midwife she has chosen when she gives birth to her third child. The premise is that her first two stints were in a hospital and were traumatic for her, one of which ended with an injury that still bothers her to this day. The claim is that the money for the midwife must be all up front and cannot be deferred. As I read through this, my immediate thought was, “Why did you hire a midwife you cannot afford, realizing you could not pay her, before you had any sort of provision in place for said funds?” Then I thought about how it was a bit galling to ask people to fund your reproductive choices. I’ve been ignoring the posts ever since.

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Miss-E August 7, 2014 at 8:31 pm

If she’s struggling to pay for the midwife, what will she do for the other expenses for kid #3? Why have a THIRD child if you can’t afford it?

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Clarinda August 14, 2014 at 10:46 pm

Thkniing like that shows an expert’s touch

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Anonymous August 7, 2014 at 9:14 pm

Back up–why are they having a third child at all, if money is too tight to finance a midwife to deliver said child safely? I mean, it’s not as if the expenses end once little Tertius or Tertia is out of the gate–it’s just the beginning. The child is going to eat, wear clothes, and require shelter, and some kind of place to sleep. Later on, there’ll be other things to think about–medical expenses, toys, educational expenses, extra-curricular activities, and eventually, college or university. So, if the money isn’t there for the midwife, then how do these people expect to be able to afford another child? I’m not going to say “Get a job/get a second job/learn to budget,” because the economy is in ruins right now, and that’s much easier said than done, but maybe “Don’t incur another massive expense” would be relevant. I know that not every child is planned, but that’s why we have birth control.

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drzim August 8, 2014 at 4:37 pm

Having been in a similar situation, I’d be willing to bet that a hospital birth is covered by insurance but a midwife/homebirth is not. I don’t think it’s a case of being not being able to afford a third child.

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Enna August 10, 2014 at 9:52 am

The gall of this lady to ask is not good, however no birth contorl is 100 %. Happy accidents do happen. I just hope that the woman has the sense to do what she can afford and be safe.

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Colleen August 10, 2014 at 9:19 pm

So you’re saying she’s just choosing to have all of her birth expenses covered by someone else be it insurance or begging on the internet? And it’s not a matter of whether she can pay the bill herself?

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wildflower84 August 7, 2014 at 3:18 pm

Here’s an idea: get a job. If you already have a job and you still aren’t able to fund your extravagances, put yourself on a very strict budget and save the money. Still not enough? Get a second job. What an entitled, lazy world we are living in.

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Dessa August 7, 2014 at 4:07 pm

I saw a couple of go-fund-mes not too long ago. One was for a singer to make a debut album. Problem was, the woman couldn’t sing worth a hoot. The other was for a social worker to pay her toll violations that totaled a huge sum. She had to pay them to get her license reinstated. I chose not to donate to either of them. It is just ridiculous.

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essie August 7, 2014 at 4:57 pm

There are some lovely things I’d like to have (I mean, some essentials I NEED); like an Olympic-size swimming pool, complete with pool boy, vacations around the world, a personal trainer, and a dance coach, but since you all have convinced me that using gofundme is tacky, I’ll just have to wait until I’m the sole winner of a 9-digit lottery.

So, if any of you would like to send me a few dollars to buy some Powerball tickets, I’d really appreciate it…

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JWH August 8, 2014 at 8:08 am

This bugs the heck out of me. I’ve gotten a lot of Kickstarter and/or GoFundMe requests from friends, former friends, and acquaintances, and it’s friggin’ ridiculous. If you have to come up with a Web site and a mass emailing to ask me for money, then you and I are not close enough for you to be asking me for money.

Even if you and I are close and you want money … if you’re considerate at all, you’re going to tell me what I get out of it. Repayment with interest? A stake in your business? Life’s not just abotu take, take, take.

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ImpossibleGirl August 11, 2014 at 1:53 pm

There are times when personal crowd funding is appropriate. I have had two friends in dire financial straits through no fault of their own (one medical, one legal). They both used GoFundMe to reach out to as wide a group of people as possible, and get small donations – which is essentially what crowd funding is all about. You don’t get something out of everything in life, either. There’s such a thing as altruism.

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JennJenn68 August 8, 2014 at 9:04 am

We need a “like” button on this site. This one wins for me!

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Anonymouse August 7, 2014 at 6:37 pm

There are lots of good causes on the site. One in particular I’ve had friends donate to is a family who lost their home in a fire, and a pool was started to help them get back on their feet. Causes like that I can support, causes like this… not so much.

The closest I’ve seen to this is a friend who was funding to produce a film he’d written. In exchange for donations to the project, people would receive VIP tickets to the premiere, posters and swag, production credits, potential profit shares (there weren’t any, the film barely broke even, but he’s talking about sending it to film festivals and such), or some combination of the above, depending on the donation. Stuff like that is more acceptable in my view, because you are getting something for your money. It’s a sale or investment, rather than a donation.

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Angeldrac August 11, 2014 at 3:09 pm

Well, that’s what has me thinking. I have been encouraged strongly by many people to take a slightly new career path that will (I hope) benefit many people in my community. I don’t think I ever would, but I am wondering if that would be an appropriate way to raise funds?

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JeanLouiseFinch August 7, 2014 at 6:44 pm

I just looked at the gofundme website. Wow. Some of these stories are so pathetic and the folks asking for money sound truly needy. However, I have to wonder how you know if it’s for real or a scam? For example, I saw one pitch by a family who had lost everything in a fire and it looked like they were getting some money. Of course, this sounds like a worthy cause, but I have to ask myself if they had insurance, and, if so, how much of their loss is insurance paying? I know that it is usually a partial payment and can be delayed, so that additional funds would be needed. Nevertheless, I would still want to know what their other sources of compensation were before I made any sizable donation. Further, with some of the other pitches, I would certainly want to ensure that the money is going to the doctors, schools or whatever. I guess I am saying that this would not be the way I would donate money.

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Pipkin81 August 8, 2014 at 9:21 am

It depends what their insurance actually covers – if they went for a cheaper option, thinking that the worst would never happen. Or no insurance at all. Then again insurance companies do take while to pay out, they quibble right down the line, so it could be that they need money right now for clothing, somewhere to stay etc etc

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Devin August 8, 2014 at 9:36 am

Those gofundmes work well for family and friends to give money to people they know. I’ve given money to two separate friends who recently lost everything in apartment fires. They had insurance, but with apartment fires, they don’t pay out till they can find the source and if its the landowner, then they usually try to sue them first. Payments may not be made for months or years. I also paid money to a local family whose daughter suffered a brain injury while traveling abroad and had to be life flighted internationally.
I wouldn’t donated to just any random gofundme, but I think its great for true emergencies. In the causes I’ve donated to, it wasn’t even the victims themselves, but friends set them up.
Another good site is crowd tilt. Its great for making group plans where there isn’t one host paying for the event. Each person has to pay their part in advance to ’tilt’ the event into happening. Its great for those friends that are always the last to RSVP or last to pay their part because if it tilts without them, then they are out.

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JeanLouiseFinch August 8, 2014 at 4:54 pm

Actually, insurance company payments are generally made well before there is a determination concerning whose fault it is. For example, if the tenant loses everything in an apartment fire, the tenant’s insurer cannot sue the landlord unless the insurer has paid the tenant and only to the extent the insurer has paid the tenant. This is called “subrogation.”

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JO August 7, 2014 at 6:49 pm

She received $50 too much.

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Mags August 7, 2014 at 7:50 pm

I got an email from a cousin whose son was about to graduate high school. She gave a little blurb about him and said that he wanted to go on a trip to somewhere or other overseas after graduation, and I think there was some website or account set up if anyone wanted to give him money for the trip rather than a grad gift. Personally, I don’t mind getting information about what someone wants for a gift — I’m not a great gift buyer anyway, so it’s handy. However, I hadn’t even seen that kid in at least 5 years, and maybe laid eyes on him once or twice in the five years before that. Further, that was the one and only thing I heard about his graduation. I wasn’t invited to any grad-related events, which is fine because obviously he wasn’t close to me, BUT if I am not close enough to be invited to the family celebration (don’t even know if there was one) or even to visit them once in a while, how on earth would that make me close enough to be hit up for a gift? Admittedly, I haven’t put any effort into maintaining relations with that branch of the family either, but then again, I don’t solicit money or gifts for my children from them either.

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Steve August 7, 2014 at 8:52 pm

You know, it’s nice for all of us to get together and deplore these cash grabs from the safety of Ehell. But unless you really want to see this behavior proliferate, you need to respond directly to these invitations with shaming and ridicule right on Facebook, email or GoFundMe.

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Kimstu August 8, 2014 at 12:51 pm

Except that what you suggest would be rude. It’s not rude for anonymous strangers on an internet etiquette forum to share a little virtual snickering and bickering about etiquette behind the backs of other anonymous strangers, because nobody knows who anybody really is and so nobody’s being embarrassed in real life.

But it is extremely rude to offer unsolicited criticisms of other people’s manners in real life, even when they ARE being unmannerly. And “real life” includes “real-life identity on the internet”. It would be a serious etiquette breach to try to scold or shame people in their true identities for gimme-piggery on social media, no matter how badly they’re behaving.

The correct way to discourage people from rude behavior is just to stiffen your polite spine and be freezingly distant and uncooperative. In the case of social-media cash grabs, that means simply not responding to their solicitations and not giving them any money. If they ASK you whether it would be okay to beg for money on the internet, THEN you can explain to them how tacky it is.

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Steve August 8, 2014 at 7:21 pm

Nope. This has never been a rule of etiquette. It is rude to point out unintentional breaches, such as drinking from the finger bowl. But more serious etiquette rules certainly used to be enforced–and far more harshly than I suggested here, sometimes even with a slap to the face or a right hook. I remember. I was there.

I think the trend of scolding the victims of rudeness is just displaced aggression. Some people are scared of confronting actual aggressors, so they redirect their own aggression at a perceived weaker, safer target: a victim who dares to defend herself or others.

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Kimstu August 10, 2014 at 9:22 am

@Steve, you’re unfortunately way off base here. Although you may well have witnessed (or committed) plenty of “retaliatory rudeness” described by its perpetrators as “enforcement” of etiquette rules, it was never approved by etiquette.

For example, over thirty years ago in 1983, Miss Manners’ “Guide for the Turn of the Millennium” remarked (pp. 121-122):

“Miss Manners understands perfectly well that one reason retaliatory rudeness is popular is that the only alternative imagined is saintly (or wimpy) sufferance. Not at all. Polite fighting back requires discipline and often patience, but it actually works better. […] even if correcting others’ behavior unasked were not in itself a violation of etiquette, the sad fact is that you cannot give instant etiquette lessons that will casually change people’s behavior for the better.”

This is the same concept as the Ehell notion of the “polite spine”. There are polite ways to stand up to rude behavior, but explicitly calling out the perpetrators of rude behavior is indeed rude in itself, and has always been condemned by modern etiquette.

Now, that’s not to say that sometimes natural reactions don’t take precedence over etiquette. If somebody rudely punches you in the face, I’m sure Miss Manners and our own Miss Jeanne would understand if you lost your temper and punched them back. But it’s not etiquette.

And certainly the sort of “enforcement” you’re advocating here, when you suggest that people should openly “shame” and “ridicule” their acquaintances for tacky posts on social media, would be condemned as RUDE by any etiquette expert ever.

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Steve August 11, 2014 at 7:47 am

Nope. If you think that physically defending yourself against someone who punches you in the face is “against etiquette, ” I’m afraid you have a very deep and serious misunderstanding of etiquette. Again, the rule against retaliatory rudeness is valid. But in real life, it is most frequently invoked by conflict avoiders who are too timid to confront aggressors but still brave enough to chastise the victims.

I would like to see some of the marks of these schemes reply, “So you were asking me to pay for your Netflix subscription? “or more simply, “Is this a joke?” Instead, people are too frightened to speak up, and their silence gives consent.

Kimstu August 11, 2014 at 11:42 am

You’re still not quite getting it, @Steve. I didn’t say that punching back somebody who threw the first punch is “AGAINST etiquette”. I simply described it as a case of natural reactions, which are NOT etiquette, taking precedence over etiquette.

There is no etiquette-approved way to have an angry brawl, because angry brawling is outside the pale of polite behavior, no matter who threw the first punch. Doesn’t mean that etiquette authorities are entitled to condemn you for brawling with someone who punched you, just that it’s outside their jurisdiction and you cannot appeal to etiquette to justify it.

@Steve: “Again, the rule against retaliatory rudeness is valid.”

Exactly. We’re not talking about punching violent attackers in self-defense here, we’re talking about offering unsolicited criticism of people making tacky posts on social media. Such unsolicited criticism is rude.

No, when it comes to gimme-pig begging, silence does not “give consent”, as you put it. Compliance gives consent. If begging gimme-pigs are not rewarded with money and/or approval, eventually many of them will figure out that their begging was tacky. And what will really shame them is the realization that other people were too polite to scold or ridicule them for their tacky begging.

Steve August 11, 2014 at 7:43 pm

You may wish to look into the history and philosophy of the “fair fight,” as well as its recent abandonment in favor of so-called extreme fighting, if you think that etiquette has nothing to do with brawls. In fact, many sociologists and anthropologists have defined etiquette as a system specifically designed to reduce the levels of violence in a society. That includes not only fewer fights, but more controlled fighting, as well.

Be that as it may, silence is no answer to the gimme pigs online–as witnessed by the proliferation of Jack and Jill shower registries, wedding contribution sites, honey funds, and GoFundMe pages. No one is getting the idea that asking for money is rude. If the pigs’ appeals fail, they just think they have cheap friends.

PatGreen August 7, 2014 at 9:08 pm

Oh well in that case I’m feeling like a vacation to Cancun. Anyone care to donate?

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AS August 7, 2014 at 10:18 pm

After all the awful gimme pigs and spit BBQs, here is a story to warm everyone’s heart.

It is about an 83 year old lady in Kolkata, India, who sells savories to make a living. And when offered money, she REFUSES to live off of donations. She says that she wants to EARN her living! Such self-respect.

http://www.telegraphindia.com/1120402/jsp/calcutta/story_15323873.jsp#.U-RAIVabNZ4

(The story has been verified to be true).

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Anonymouse August 8, 2014 at 1:07 pm

That’s amazing! Thank you!

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Christine August 8, 2014 at 6:59 am

I must be very lucky, because the only GoFundMe requests I’ve ever received were for helping with funeral expenses for two tragic accidents and medical bills for children born with/diagnosed with horrendous medical conditions (I won’t even go into how disgusted I get thinking that a family can be one cancer diagnosis away from bankruptcy, with insurance).

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JWH August 8, 2014 at 8:08 am
Cat August 9, 2014 at 8:59 am

Especially when the only lawyer we know is in Heaven is St. Thomas More. It doesn’t seem to be a field in which the Almighty has shown a great deal of interest so far.

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Angeldrac August 11, 2014 at 3:18 pm

That’s very offensive to the entire legal profession.

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Princess Buttercup August 8, 2014 at 12:57 pm

It seems nearly every gofundme or the like that I’ve seen has been pure greed or self centeredness.

One I’ve seen is a career student (been in school hiw whole life, hasn’t really finished anything) in his 40’s now and can’t afford more schooling, that he’s already taking, and wants you to fund him.

Another was the most crazy I’ve seen thus far. A guy got in trouble for lying on his taxes and started a donation request for you to pay off his fees for trying to commit tax fraud and a nice vacation for him. I am not even kidding in the slightest.

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SuzyQ August 8, 2014 at 11:14 pm

Friends of mine are expecting twins later this year, and when they found out they were having two babies instead of one (they already have one child) they set up a GoFundMe campaign stating that while the twins were a blessing, they were not ready for them. They claimed they needed to raise funds for a minivan and to start college funds. They even put down suggested dollar amounts to donate, along with what you would get if you donated that certain amount. One was to hold the babies first, and another was to be a godparent. No joke. They have raised $0 so far and it’s been up for several months. I would say this shocks me, but the mom is also throwing her own second baby shower at their home, so this is pretty typical behavior.

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Yankeegal77 August 9, 2014 at 10:03 am

I’ve given to three GoFundMe/Kickstarter-type campaigns.

The first was a company I used to work for–we were launching a new product and anyone who funded received a nice gift at various levels–and a big, BIG public thank-you.

The other two are friends working on career moves–one, an artist working on a time-consuming, potentially career-making craft (who offered copies of the finished product and sends regular e-mail updates) the other, a friend who has had a hard time trying to turn her life around and set up a business.

Both friends asked for only the essentials–something like $2500 for film equipment; one for significantly more since this was essentially a dream job, which he has worked for otherwise–he just needed help getting it off the ground. Both offered something in return for a donation. What I like about Kickstarter is that money isn’t taken from a donor until a project reaches its money goal–not sure if this is the norm.

There are worthy causes and people who are asking for something completely reasonable. Fund your vacation? NO.

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Brit August 11, 2014 at 4:13 am

I don’t think it’s reasonable to ask your friends to give you anything towards your career move. Your friends (generic you) have commitments of their own.

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JWH August 11, 2014 at 8:54 am

I’m on the fence about artists, particularly those who work in photography. You can best fund your aspirations (and your equipment) by taking on commissions. But you can’t really take commissions until you get good equipment ….

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Hannah August 11, 2014 at 4:32 pm

Not to mention, most people won’t give you commissions until you have a portfolio full of professional work to prove to them you can do the job.

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AnaMaria August 13, 2014 at 12:08 pm

Having modeled professionally, I had to pay a good photographer to do my first shoot, and then several photographers asked me to do “Time for Print” shoots where neither of us was paid but we both added photos to our portfolio. Eventually, I started getting offered paid work.

Photographers have to do the same thing- maybe pay a few models for their time, or get friends or family who are willing to model for free. As they start getting more experience, they can recruit slightly experienced models for time-for-print, and eventually start charging for their work. I’m sure other artists have to follow a similar, gradual path towards getting paid and having a full portfolio.

NostalgicGal August 14, 2014 at 10:06 pm

There is a place now where you can RENT good equipment. Affording a month of renting very good equipment; setting up shoots; and pad the portfolio… and save every penny and hope you can then move up. I want a top end camera and am going to try this, renting a few of the ones I want to buy, and see what the differences are. I am also going to work that camera when I have it, maybe it can help pay for the one I do want (aka I’m talking where it might get close to a new car in value with accessories and such).

Brit August 12, 2014 at 9:10 am

Why should it be OK to ask your (generic your) friends to do that? What claim on their money could you possibly have?

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Enna August 10, 2014 at 9:55 am

I just wouldn’t respond to such a money grab.

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NicoleK August 11, 2014 at 6:45 am

A list I am on to discuss religion had a guy who kept asking for GoFundMe donations so his kid could go to Costa Rica. As enriching as these things are, I’m not gonna fund some kid I’ve never met. The kid could get a summer internship with an NGO somewhere which would pay for the cost of a ticket. Do a little research or something. Don’t ask people you dont know to pay for a vacation.

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anonymous August 11, 2014 at 12:27 pm

Most NGOs don’t pay for the ticket. You pay for it, and in return you get the enrichment of the experience of going there to work. But they don’t pay. Why? Enough kids with money are willing to pony up. So, while you’re not wrong about not wanting to donate and I wouldn’t donate either, your assumption that he could just get an organization to pay for it is actually quite false.

Some study abroad programs will pay for you to go, if you’re already enrolled and paying tuition – they use that tuition to basically pay your expenses. But, you have to be able to afford the tuition at a university in the first place.

Costa Rica – heh. It’s not that expensive to fly down. Couple hundred bucks. I doubt his experience would be noticeably different if he just took a budget eco-tour instead and that he could save up for by working a summer job (assuming he gets free room and board at his parents’).

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Pax August 11, 2014 at 6:59 am

I’ve wondered what the etiquette is regarding these funding requests. For the past several months I’ve received several GoFundMe requests to assist a friend who has decided their family needs to move from their current location in Europe back to the USA. They decided to move without either adult having employment ready, are moving in with family members, and hadn’t even enough for plane tickets until their donors gave enough (they both hold steady employment right now in their current country of residence).

Looking at their plans, I wondered if I should support their cause, even if I think it’s poorly planned? It seems the logical thing to save money, find employment and THEN move. Does an invitation to donate invite the potential donor to give advice? Is ignoring it altogether rude? I’m still not sure of the proper etiquette.

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Kimstu August 11, 2014 at 11:55 am

No, ignoring a rude solicitation for money is not rude. In fact, the kindest thing you could do for your friend is to pretend you never noticed their tacky gimme-piggery. The fact that they sent you a rude solicitation for money doesn’t authorize you to give them unsolicited advice or criticism of their fundraising methods, because that in itself would be rude.

If you want to keep them as friends and be helpful in their planned relocation, you could offer to do specific favors for them (receive their mail temporarily, carry some luggage back for them if you go to visit them, put them up for a bit if they’re job-hunting in your city, loan them a specified amount of money with a written agreement if you can trust them to repay it eventually, or whatever). But steadfastly resist all insinuations, demands or complaints that your friendship somehow entitles them to expect you will give them money just because they need some money.

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Pax August 11, 2014 at 1:28 pm

Kimstu,

Thank you for the feedback; I believe your advice is sound and I’ll be pursuing that route. Thanks again.

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Steve August 11, 2014 at 7:44 pm

You can hardly call advice unsolicited when it is a response to a solicitation.

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anonymous August 11, 2014 at 12:21 pm

I don’t disagree with the answers above, but I wanted to present the other side to this.

I am an excellent candidate for a Master’s degree. I also cannot afford one, and I’m in a field where you need a Master’s to move up, but you’ll never be so well-paid that you’ll be able to easily pay off loans (but I am passionate about this field and very, very good at it – if you’re curious it’s teaching English as a second/foreign language, and the degree I want is in the directly related Applied Linguistics). I already have undergraduate loans that I’ll be halfway retired before I pay off (bad choice, but I was 18, what did I know? Although I did meet my husband at school and get a chance to study abroad that I would not have gotten at another school, so it wasn’t a total loss). I can not take out more. I just can’t – I’ll never pay them off. I will never be that well-off.

So, here’s the problem in a nutshell:

– parents would help, but can’t, as they’re still dealing with medical bills from a parent’s illness
– I live abroad in a country I adore, but salaries are among the lowest in the developed world so it would take years – like, a decade or more – to save up the kind of money I’d need to do this while still having some sort of retirement/long-term savings
– that country doesn’t have many choices in terms of Applied Linguistics programs – and in order for my degree to be respected internationally should we ever choose to move, only one university is a viable choice. They are affordable and near my home – but do not offer my program. OH WELL. No other university here will offer me a degree that’ll even get my foot in the door if we move back to the West.
– without a Master’s I’ll never get the kinds of jobs I do want: the real teaching jobs that are something better than a private language school where there is rampant worker mistreatment, low pay and no benefits. I need it to move up in my career.
– I can’t afford tuition back in the USA – even at a state school it’s too high for me to be able to work and pay my way through (plus I can’t afford the car to drive to class, as public transportation is so bad)
– I would be able to live with my parents or in-laws, which would do away with the need to pay for room and board as I know they’d take me in (and I could get a job to contribute to food and pay for my own transport etc), but the universities near each set of parents…doesn’t offer my program! WOO!
– if we – me, husband, two cats – moved abroad to save more money it would take just as long because there’d be a 1-2 year settling down period. This is common if you live an expat life.
– most scholarship candidates are PhD candidates, not Master’s candidates. For a PhD the school will often offer you a reasonable package. For a Master’s, it’s loans all the way as they can’t get several years of teaching out of you. I can’t take out loans because I can’t pay them back even if I get the kinds of jobs I want (no jobs in this field are terribly well-paid but I do love it and I do love making a difference in students’ lives, but I am not cut out to teach children so schoolteaching isn’t for me and university lecturers are paid surprisingly little although the work environment and benefits are better).
– I can’t go online, as the government of the country where I live does not recognize online degrees.
– with US tuition so high I could never possibly pay it, the universities near my parents’ not offering my program, and universities in the country where I live not being internationally respected, and living in a place I’d like to continue living in for awhile that does not respect online degrees, I started looking at international programs. Sounded great, European ones are only one year long! That’s not as bad as 2+ years in the USA! Until I realized most charged far higher rates to international students (like me), because there are enough rich ones that they can get away with it. Also, less aid. And most want tuition up front and won’t give you a work visa.

So, I can’t save the money as I don’t earn enough (and I already work more than full-time). I can’t pay back loans. I can’t go online. I can’t go back to my home country. I can’t study at the universities near my parents’ or in-laws. I can’t get a degree here. An international university will expect me to live, without working, for a year and pay tuition up-front, which is almost as insurmountable as US tuition rates which are uniformly too high for anyone to pay-as-they-go by working now. My desired program is pretty rare so options are slim. We could all move and wait until my husband was working and could support me, but we have two cats: not really easy to uproot the whole family like that for just one year across international borders.

So, I find myself stuck. There is no good option. If you’re thinking that I’m just not working hard enough, I’m currently working more-than-full-time and also doing a different kind of diploma program (not as good as a Master’s) that will hopefully earn me credit towards a Master’s, that I can pay for in increments as I do modules. That means I spend all my free time studying. I’m working GOSHDARN HARD.

So yes, I am tempted to head over to indiegogo because…what other option do I have? To work as a mistreated laborer for the rest of my life because I can’t afford the degree that will get me a better job? To take out loans I know I’ll default on? To get a (local) degree I can never use if I leave this country? To get a(n online) degree I can’t use in this country? What? What??

I’m half joking, because I don’t want to do it. But I’m also half serious. If I did it, it’d be a sort of “pay it forward” proposal: the world donates so I can get that Master’s and in return I will promise that:

a.) I will donate an amount of money I can afford to someone else who needs a leg up in getting an education, for every month I earn money, so nobody else needs to navigate the predatory student loan maze, which will go to directly helping someone else without the profiting middleman;
b.) I will dedicate a portion of my time as a fully-qualified ESL teacher to teaching underprivileged people, for free, so they can have a shot at better jobs that want to see some English proficiency (I could do this anyway, but it would have more impact if I were better trained);
c.) I will bring quality – and be an outspoken advocate for – a field that sorely needs it in terms of training, resources and respect.

I haven’t actually done this, but it’s kicking around in my head.

Sometimes people get stuck, and I feel stuck.

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Steve August 11, 2014 at 7:48 pm

It’s nice to want.

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anonymous August 11, 2014 at 10:44 pm

It’s not about wanting. it’s the only thing that will get me the career rise I need and am an excellent candidate for – and I can’t afford it.

You could say “just go through the system like everyone else”, but one reason I like the idea of crowdfunding is that it kicks the pedestal out from under our current system, which I do believe is rigged against students by charging them ridiculous tuition, then loaning them the money, so they can get jobs that will never be sufficient to pay it all off. 21st century indentured servitude. That’s why I also want to help other people realize their dreams of education.

I should clarify the “it’s inconvenient for both of us to move” – the cost of both of us moving, considering that we’d have to figure out what to do with an entire apartment’s worth of furnishings which we own, across international borders (and no driving – it’s an island), would be even more expensive than only me moving for a year and renting a shoddy room in a shared house.

As I said, I haven’t done this yet, but I can’t deny I’ve thought about it. I would do it for someone else. Everyone deserves a shot at education – I’m not so sure about tattoo apprenticeships but when it comes to higher education I believe it’s not even in the same area of consideration as a vacation, a nice place to live or a fancy wedding. It’s what you need to just…do a job, or get a better job.

Something is really wrong with the system when one needs a degree that costs $$$$$$$$$ in order to get a job that only pays $$$ and will never allow you to pay off the debt from the degree.

I support people who want to blow that whole system up.

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Brit August 12, 2014 at 9:16 am

So why don’t you move for 1-2 years, possibly to a country that does recognize online degrees? It’s nothing in the grand scheme of things, but if you can’t afford it where you are, moving is something you may have to do. Look at the long game.

And I sympathise as someone who had to move to a different country to do the HE course I wanted. I had to wait 2 years to get everything together to start. But you sound as if you’re saying ‘we can’t move but I want X’ – well, realistically, you aren’t going to get it if you don’t move. Your chances of being funded online are tiny.

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AS August 11, 2014 at 10:24 pm

There is a lot of things wrong with the educational system in USA (I came here for my grad school with full scholarships; but I can see friends, very smart ones who are also in grad school (which doesn’t really pay much), with cartloads of loan to be repaid). Scholarships in UG colleges are very few and hard to come by. But the trouble is that if a few people start asking everyone they know for money, then the others who are paying (often after being put on the spot) are going to be that much more poor. If everyone asks others to sponsor them, then the money is just circulating in the system, and no one is really benefitting, except for the moocher who does not equal the fund that they are receiving.

I know a friend of mine who is clinging on to a job he hates, just because it is in a prestigious University, and he can take the the courses he wants to towards a Masters degree, while at the same time paying his bills and educational loans (the pay isn’t too high either).

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Kimstu August 11, 2014 at 10:29 pm

@anonymous, as somebody who slogged through years of paying off debt for undergrad and grad degrees, I definitely sympathize with your plight, and I hope you are able to achieve your goals. And certainly none of us etiquette-debaters-in-the-abstract here are going to try to dictate your own personal choices in real life.

But since you voluntarily presented your dilemma here for etiquette discussion: Consider for a moment that on a fundraising site you’d be asking for the charity of the world at large (which has plenty of other worthy and in many cases needier objects for its charity) to fund your dream, in exchange for what? Just in exchange for your promises to be a supportive, generous and dedicated member of your chosen profession, which presumably you would want to be anyway!

Do you really want to advertise to the general public (which may well include some of your current and/or future colleagues, employers and teachers) that you’re essentially putting a price tag on your devotion to the profession that you love so much and are so passionate about? This could come back to bite you in SO many ways.

I’m not trying to minimize the logistical difficulties of your situation, and I hear you about the difficulty of getting a good tuition-and-stipend package as a Master’s student for just one or two years. But it sounds as though you could stand to do some serious beating of the bushes for EXTERNAL scholarship support for this degree. If the university you want to attend won’t give you (enough) money for your studies, is there another organization that might? Can’t hurt to look! Along those lines, have you looked into student loan forgiveness programs for your current student debt? It sounds as though you definitely have opportunities for the sort of “public service” career activities that can qualify you for loan forgiveness, and that means more money that you can put towards your future education costs instead of your past ones.

There’s also the possibility of temporarily splitting up the family to make relocation easier. I know that’s not a very desirable option, but it’s the sort of sacrifice that people often have to make to pursue education. If it’s just for a year, could you and your husband find somebody to temporarily adopt the cats so you don’t have to move them? Or could you go abroad solo to live cheaper?

In some fields, people who enter a PhD program sometimes leave after a year or two with a terminal Master’s; is that a possibility in your field, and would you be open to trying out a PhD program with better support even if you think at present you would most likely not continue past the Master’s?

I have no way of knowing whether any of these ideas would be useful to you, but do you really think a fundraising site like indiegogo is likely to be better? As far as I can see, indiegogo is already overflowing with worthy and earnest aspiring grad students who’ve ended up with less than $1000 in donations toward a multithousand-dollar goal. Saving up your own money, even for a decade, might bring faster results!

Anyway, good luck with it and I hope you make your dream come true!

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chechina August 23, 2014 at 6:30 am

You feel stuck, but you are not. You just don’t like the options you have.

It might help if you stop seeing yourself as deserving the privilege of a grad education somehow more than others.

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Hannah August 11, 2014 at 4:25 pm

I actually like GoFundMe, and Kickstarter, and the others, but a lot of people abusive these sites. I’ve supported a lot of artistic projects (think short films and theater productions) but I usually have some connection with the people doing them–I’ve never helped out someone I didn’t know something about. Being an artist myself, I know the hardship of trying to get funds for artistic projects–especially if you are just starting out. I also don’t *usually* read the fundraisers as “I’m lazy, give me money.” I read them as “I’m struggling, can you help me?” That all being said, there are definitely money grabbers around. In fact, several months ago I got a message in my tumblr ask box from some kid asking me donate money to a kickstarter so he could go to a big fancy college. I was a little insulted that he would send me, a complete stranger, not even tied to him by similar tumblr interests, a message asking for money. I simply told him that if he was going to ask for help from complete strangers, the least he could do is make his message personal and mention something to do with my blog. Needless to say I never heard from him again.

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Library Diva August 12, 2014 at 12:44 pm

There’s nothing wrong with Kickstarter and Indiegogo per se. The sites allow lots of good things to come into the world and are set up to provide some sort of benefit to the donors, too. It’s a clever way for artists, activists and people starting businesses to generate word of mouth and get people invested — literally and metaphorically — in what they’re trying to do. But people shouldn’t abuse these sites to fund things that don’t benefit anyone else except the person who set up the fund and the website who gets 10 percent.

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