June 23, 2015

What Happens when Strangers Believe in Us.


Sometimes, when we take big leaps in life, it’s just not possible for those closest to us to see the big picture.

Big change brings up big fears. Loved ones don’t want to see us eaten by alligators or killed in a 12-way Vespa crash. So when we tell them our dreams they can sometimes look at us with disbelief.

Doubt. Denial. Or worse, dread.

This can be disheartening and even seriously painful. Right when you’d like them to do a big fist pump and say “go you big red fire engine!” they tell you to do something “normal” instead. Something that doesn’t involve travel. Or excitement. Or anything fun, usually. Something an accountant would sanction.

It is for these times that crowdfunding is spectacular. When a stranger believes in us, magical things take place.

We learn passion has more impact than pride.

I don’t think I’m alone in feeling uncomfortable about asking strangers for money to live my dream. Our social system says that money must be hard to attain, passion projects are hobbies not careers and you don’t get something for nothing. While some of these have a solid basis, they are not the be all and end all of financial possibility.

When crowdfunding, are we really asking something for nothing? If the answer is yes, the project will fail. Examples include coming from a sense of entitlement rather than inclusiveness, lacking gratitude or not seeing how the project creates a global impact. And make no mistake, anyone branching out of the traditional system creates a global impact.

I once met a talented homeless artist on the streets of Sydney. I was surprised to learn his family were wealthy, but that he couldn’t see his way to asking for their help. His pride meant he lived on the street, and that the full potential of his artistic talent couldn’t be reached. He didn’t have internet, social media nor T.V. to share his messages. The world was missing out on his whole story.

When we move past this type of destructive pride and open ourselves up to global support, we see that our passions are of value to a much bigger audience than we ever dreamed.

It triggers our own generosity.

Receiving makes me instinctively want to give. All the freakin’ time. It opens a gratitude vortex that makes it easy to see how much I have and how easy it is to contribute to things I value. I become effortlessly inspired by people, because I can be actively involved in their story. Personally, I’ve run one crowdfunding campaign and have just begun another—and in return I support multiple projects on GoFundMe, Patreon, Kiva, and Pozible, as well as private adventure and arts scholarship funds. And until writing this today, it never occurred to me how much I was giving back. It’s been effortless.

In an interesting article entitled The World’s Bank: How Crowdfunding is Disrupting Old Banking (worth a read), Reid Hoffman makes this point:

“Crowdfunding is a sophisticated and pragmatic expression of democratic values and ideals. It recognizes that person-to-person connections are the essential fuel that powers the Internet.”

I believe that person-to-person connections are also the essential fuel that powers the globe and crowdfunding makes this possible.

It can help us leap the precipice.

I’d like to be able to say I genuinely don’t give a sh*t if anyone supports me in life. But I’m just not there. I’m not sure if anyone ever truly reaches that point, since we are biologically conditioned to know that community equals survival. With work, we can lessen the programming, but to some degree I believe it will always be there.

So when a person, especially a stranger, clicks “yes” on a campaign, we get a reminder that we are globally supported, universally loved and passionately alive. Just one person saying “you are worthy” in this way is so powerful that it can change entire lives, communities, and the world of finance.

It can improve relationships with loved ones.

It feels a bit shit when someone you thought would support you says you can’t do it. Or that you’ll fail. And even when we are consciously aware they are speaking their own fears, their own truths, their own view of what is possible, the messages can still hurt.

It creates a dilemma — keep sharing with your nearest and dearest and dealing with the pain it can bring, or clam up and be your own cheer squad. If you don’t have a great support network at your back, it’s rough and can breed resentment. Which isn’t fun for anyone.

That’s where the public can provide both solace and a new perspective.

Strangers don’t have any fear that you will be eating rice for a month straight. If you know you can do something, they know it too.

Strangers don’t fear your loss. They’re not scared you’ll die or become a sex slave. They’re not thinking about ransoms or the movie Taken knowing they don’t have the special skill set of Liam Neeson should something terrible happen to you.

The global population sees exactly what you put out. And if that is pure unadulterated joy of life and experiences, they want a piece of that. By inviting the global community in we create the networks needed in the moments where it doesn’t feel easy. This makes it easier to meet our loved ones exactly where they are, without pain or judgement.

Do more research if you have any hesitancy or shame around participating in crowdfunding yourself.

Author: Crystal Davis

Editor: Yoli Ramazzina

Image: upsplash

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