I recently read an article about the growing popularity of “social panhandling” among Millennials. This trend is different from crowdfunding and social gift giving — it’s basically asking for a handout, online, to help you reach your goals. You don’t offer anything in return, other than the warm, fuzzy feeling that contributors might get knowing they’re helping you out.
Read on to find out more about this trend (as well as why I probably won’t ever contribute to a campaign).
What is Social Panhandling?
You’ve probably heard stories of young professionals panhandling on corners, or people asking for help via eBay auctions. Social panhandling, though, takes these efforts to the web à la Kickstarter and Indiegogo. There are several web sites, such as GoFundMe.com, that allow you to make a plea for help.
Many Millennials are looking for the funds to move somewhere new, and using a site to raise money online, from friends and strangers alike, is one way to get that money. However, it’s important to note that donors aren’t promised anything in return. If someone has a story that tugs at your heartstrings, you might feel good about donating money to their efforts, but you’re not going to receive anything else.
Social panhandling is basically a way to raise money — without coming up with a business idea or working at a thankless job, living with your parents, and saving what you can.
The Different Types of Online Fundraising
There’s a difference between social panhandling and raising money in other ways online, such as crowdfunding or social gift giving.
The goal of crowdfunding is to raise money for some sort of venture. With this model, supporters can contribute to a project. As a thank you, the project’s leaders will provide something of value in return.
For example: A few months ago, I finished a crowdfunding project for my book’s editing and design. To those who supported the campaign, I promised copies of the book and other perks.
Social gift giving is another rising phenomenon, with a prime example being the website Betterment. It’s a financial gift registry where you can help contribute to a goal — like helping newlyweds buy a home or go on a honeymoon.
Even though you don’t expect to receive something in return for this type of giving, there’s still a positive reward associated with it. You’re giving a gift for a particular event, such as graduation, a birthday, or a wedding. By giving a gift, you’re helping the recipient reach a goal and progress in life.
Social panhandling is a little different: To me, it’s sort of like dropping money in the cup of a homeless person. Not that I have anything against putting money in the cup of a homeless person; I usually keep bills available just for that purpose when I head to Salt Lake City.
However, it does seem a little “off” to me to contribute to online campaigns for Millennials who are basically looking for a change of scenery.
What do you think? Am I too fastidious? Would you use social panhandling online to reach a goal?