The Inequality of the GoFundMe Economy

The research found that in a country with high wealth inequality, digital fundraising tools reflect and, in some cases, may worsen the real-world gap between winners and losers. In short, online charity drives don’t evenly or consistently fill the gaps in the social safety net.

“There is a long history of social crises for people who need help most being the last in line to get it,” said Nora Kenworthy, one of the authors of the article and associate professor at the University of Bothell School of Nursing and Health. Washington. Studies. “I am concerned that this seems to be the pattern here and that it contributes to more inequalities.”

Kenworthy and Mark Igra, another co-author of the paper and a graduate student in sociology at the University of Washington, explained to me why many online donation drives failed to raise much money, if at all.

The people who needed the most help in the past year may have had family, friends, and neighbors who were in similar circumstances and were unable to donate much. Some people who organized fundraisers probably didn’t have expanding social connections that make a big difference in spreading donation requests on Facebook. (Last year, GoFundMe published its own analysis of fundraisers related to the pandemic. Using different data, it found that coronavirus relief campaigns raised about $ 625 million from March to August 2020.)

But Igra and Kenworthy also said there were deeper issues both about the technology and about the United States.

They said they were concerned that the prevalence of massive online charities could divert attention and funding away from traditional charities, or reduce people’s interest in addressing the root causes why so many people need to turn to online donations. . GoFundMe’s CEO has also said that the company should not replace effective social services.

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