Social Media; love it or loathe it I think it is here to stay and will continue to be a part of our every day lives for many years to come. Whatever you think of it though when it comes to fundraising it is a great tool for those of us asking for help to get our pages out there. Yesterday's blog entry got me 478 views, that's 478 potential donors. I get a dozen or more friend requests each day on facebook - I have strict privacy controls when it comes to friends as I don't believe in sharing around other people to random strangers so you will only ever see yourself as my friend on there. Everything else on my facebook is 100% public. Followers come and go on twitter - sadly most who follow are just looking for a follow back so I'm not sure it's one of the better ones to use, but use it I do. You could come across me (and if you're reading this then you most definitely have) and something I've said might strike a chord with you so much that you then share it to your friends and so it can continue. Look how some of these youtube videos can go viral in a matter of hours where they are seen by millions of people around the world. The potential is astronomical - sadly I've yet to come up with anything clever enough for it to go viral; that doesn't mean I won't though 😀
The even better thing about it though is that it's not just great for people like me, it's great for each and every one of us. Mostly for you guys reading this though who might be considering making a donation - not just to me but to anyone. Social media gives you the chance to find out if someone is genuine or not.
Let me explain. On my news feed (because I follow a couple of different things) I keep getting other people who are looking for help and their details. These are all "paid for" adverts which is why they come up so often. I'm not sure I agree with paying a company to just keep sharing your requests because unless someone is actually following that company then they won't be seen anyway. However, that is by-the-by and if someone thinks paying someone else to get their page out there will benefit them in the long run then who am I to tell them not to? The past few days I've had the same 10 appear. I believed only 3 of those 10 to be genuine and thanks to the power of social media I have discovered that in fact only 1 of them is. It's very easy to read someone's story, get caught up in it and hand over your hard-earned money and sadly there are people out there who will pray on that. One woman claiming to be incapacitated and in need of money to repair her house so she can move around shared this truly moving story. In fact it was so good I was considering taking some of the money I have saved from before I set up my own page to donate to her but something in the back of my mind told me to "dig a little deeper". When I did I found photo's of her out and about enjoying life. Then I checked on her updates on her fundraising page and noticed that wtih each update there was anything thing she was desperately in need of money for - her kids to be taken care of after she dies; there was no money for food and it was so desperate they were going to have to consider visiting a food bank. Thanks to social media I found recent photos (taken the same week she was pleading poverty) of her and her adult family (who she made out were younglings who would be taken into care if anything happened to her) tucking into steaks in a bar all drinking beer. Now I am the last person to judge people when it comes to carrying excess weight, for I myself carry more than I should, but far from starving these people (her hungry children in need of food banks) were carrying way more than a little extra weight. Had I not scouted around social media sites I'd have been none-the-wiser and handed over my money to this con woman. I have reported her and handed over the bits I found (which were all public). Whether she gets removed or not I have no idea for I don't know how the sites she is on (there is more than one) operate. I also don't know if she will be made to hand back all the money that has so far been donated to her.
In short, don't believe all you see. Ask questions of the person. If they are genuine they should be able to give you good answers. I've seen one this week where a woman is asking for £50000 for just her lawyer fees to set up her own business. That is absolutely ridiculous. I've set up my own business there is no way it would cost that in just fees. To set up the whole company maybe depending on what services she is offering. If someone wants money to start a business ask to see their business plan and projection forecasts before you hand over a penny. Ask which bank they are using, which lawyer will be dealing with it. Get them to give you as much information as they can (without getting too personal, of course). If you're giving them money you have a right to know exactly what they are spending it on. Ask for a breakdown of the running costs they predict. If it's for someone with a medical condition, again ask questions. Find out exactly what the money is for. Same as someone like me who is looking to travel. Ask to see a breakdown of costs. Who are they planning on flying with? What is the rough cost of flights? How much are they allowing for food, insurances, motels/hotels. Are they planning to stay in 5* places or camp sites. Anyone genuine will happily answer all your questions. Never forget with travel you can always give more than they are asking for - first class travel is wonderful (or so I've heard!!! ).
At the end of the, if in doubt keep your money in your pocket.