It’s an unfortunate truth that sometimes we reach a place in life where our own ways of earning money simply aren’t enough.
In times like this, people often turn to requests for charity; Or as you may call it, panhandling.
Few people are comfortable considering the idea of panhandling, or requesting assistance, but there are situations which do call for it.
Sometimes people need more money than they can make, and it’s as simple as that.
In the modern age, one does not even need to hit the streets with hat in hand to request money from others.
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There are tons of ways to get free money. Even the government has programs where they give you free cash.
But when all else fails, the internet can help.
Here we enter the idea of internet charity, or in more polarizing terms, “cyber-panhandling.”
There are millions of people on the internet all day, every day, and some of them are willing to donate to you for just about any reason.
We’ll be talking about two sites here:
Both of which have their advantages and disadvantages.
Fundly is a website that helps people organize and advertise a fundraising cause that is close to them.
It is a fairly large organization, with full Facebook Feed support as well as a streamlined mobile interface.
You might imagine that this is perfect for our intentions here, but it’s important to note that Fundly heavily favors those who have a “legitimate” cause– building a library, supporting the arts, international support.
These things have the highest success rate by far.
It can be personally focused, as well; at time of writing, a cancer survivor’s campaign is on the front page of the website.
It’s not recommended to try to defraud the contributors of the website.
Aside from the obvious moral implications, Fundly is a website which is big on updates and progress– something you’ll be having a hard time managing with a fraudulent campaign.
Begslist is a website on the other side of the spectrum, because it says right in the title what the premise is.
This site is designed with your unabashed intentions in mind, you simply type up your “beg” and put it into a category (To pay rent, to pay for school, etc.)
People see this and decide whether or not they want to donate or not.
The clarity of this website is its big upside.
There are two downsides to complement this, one being that it is called “Begslist.” Your more distrusting donors are going to be turned off by the name alone. It might be a “beg,” but it certainly isn’t good to call it one.
The second downside is that the site layout isn’t as refined as Fundly’s.
Don’t be completely soured by those downsides, though, because it is a site which is operational and perfectly fits our needs.
Other Crowdfunding Sites for Personal Use
There are, of curse, many other crowdfunding sites that cater to people looking to raise money for personal reasons.
Here are a few of the biggest ones:
Why Not Kickstarter?
Kickstarter is probably the first thing you think about when you hear about “crowdfunding.” And it’s true that Kickstarter really illuminated the world of crowdfunding to the mainstream audience.
The problem is that Kickstarter is centered around kickstarting products, as in, strictly related to something that you will produce and then sell, for a profit.
This means that charity is not their interest.
Kickstarter is income-driven, if you have no product to make, they’re not interested.
Online Panhandling Done Correctly
Ok, let’s talk in general about some general guidelines for doing this sort of thing.
There are a lot of reasons that people are afraid to ask for others’ help in paying their bills and costs of living.
Part of it is a culture that emphasizes self-sufficiency, and part of it is the notion that seeking charity is shameful and reflects poorly on oneself.
For some, it is the simple idea that they would fail if they sought charity. Others still might think that gaining others’ charity is simple as long as you have the right approach.
The truth is that the charity of strangers is not so predictable.
Lots and lots of factors come into play when people are considering a charitable act, but more than anything else, it’s just about context.
Was it presented in a way that compelled them? Did you make them want to trust you?
These questions are more important than how good or bad your cause is, or how much you legitimately need the money.
Sadly, your level of need is irrelevant to the potential donors.
It only matters how your cause made them feel.
Give Your Campaign a Face
If you want people to have the maximum impact from your cause, you’re going to want a good “face” for your campaign.
It needs to be stated simply– you need a kid, or an attractive friend, or someone who is emotionally impactful to look at.
The reality is a little unfortunate, but you need to advertise your cause just like anything else. Which means a trustworthy face is a must.
It can be you, of course, but if you have anyone in your life who makes a perfect face for a cause, seize that opportunity.
It’s going to effect your bottom line.
Extend Your Reach by Using a Simple to Understand Language
When you are writing for your cause / campaign, use easy, friendly language.
Don’t scare away your potential donors by “talking over them.”
Preferably, your language will be simple enough that people in other countries will still be able to get the gist of what you’re saying.
You want the absolute widest audience you can get here, so details like the language you use are going to be incredibly important.
No slang, no cliches, and absolutely (absolutely!) no foul language.
A brief glance at any fundraising site shows that campaigns which use expletives almost universally fail.
These are all ways that deal with “cyber-panhandling,” and we’ve only really discussed the online ways to do it.
But if you’re truly and honestly desperate for money, and getting more work isn’t an option, you can always hit the streets the old fashioned way.
It doesn’t have to be shameful if you don’t want it to be, after all.
If you have marketable skills like artistry or musicianship, selling or performing in a public space can be fun and profitable. Some street musicians make far more than their peers in 9-5 jobs, so it’s not a bad avenue to consider.
Just don’t forget to check your local ordinance to see what the laws are about public performance / street vendor-ship.