FLOWCHART: A Handy Guide to the Wide World of Philly Crowdfunding

To Kickstart, or not to Kickstart? Some projects are worth your hard-earned money. Others are Zach Braff movies.

When the first couple crowd-funding requests popped up in my Facebook feed, I was a fan. It was hard not to be.

Out of the bleakness of the Internet came something intrinsically human — a call for help — and it, in turn, was answered with something even more human: support from a community willing to sacrifice a little bit to contribute to a greater good. Hidden among the selfies and Candy Crush invitations, perhaps we were a species worth saving.

But nothing gold — or even a little bit shiny in the right light — can stay.

At this point, there are countless crowd-funding platforms to solicit money for everything and anything you want to do — but not so much that you’d pay or work for it.

Some of these campaigns are, of course, as worthy and necessary as ever. When it comes to medical bills and tragedies, crowd-funding is simply the natural progression of the time-honored beef-and-beer. All of the neighborly goodwill with none of the funky VFW smells – I can get behind that.

Admittedly, I wasn’t an immediate fan of the crowd-funded tuition trend, a strategy that at least one Drexel student is using to bring down the school’s extremely hefty price tag. (There’s no easy way to say this, Drexel students: You are getting screwed over there.) On the surface, there’s something entitled about asking strangers to pay for your expensive diploma. But, of course, very few 18-years-olds are paying for their own education — most tuition bills are at least in part crowd-funded, whether that crowd is a family (thanks, mom!), taxpayers, or the Internet.

But as for the rest of the Kickstarter, IndieGoGo and GoFundMe hopefuls? At the risk of sounding as old and grumpy as I feel these days: If the establishment doesn’t want to finance your pet project, and you don’t care enough to finance it, perhaps it shouldn’t be financed. If record labels and book publishers and investors have passed, why are we, suckers of the Internet, pitching in?

Throwing money, no questions asked, at every precious indie album, “important” documentary and passion-project memoir is how we ended up with Garden State 2. That’s blood on our hands, people — blood on our hands.

Should you fund some of Philadephia’s many Kickstarter projects? Maybe. But maybe not. Before you pull out the credit card, refer to this handy chart.

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