As someone who curates crowdfunding projects weekly for GOOD.is, I'm wary of the legitimacy of every project I consider. Not all projects aim to do good or are meant to, so it's important to research them and read between the lines to make funding decisions you can believe in.
Some projects don't even deliver the rewards they claim to promise, or don't end up achieving their goals. According to a CNNMoney investigation last year, "84 percent of Kickstarter projects don't ship on time
. In other cases, products have failed to materialize after creators promised more than they could deliver."
Ken Hoinsky's book project on Kickstarter, Above the Game: A Guide to Getting Awesome with Women
, was a little different. It was marketed as a "Dating Guide," but when blogger Casey Malone
dug further on Seddit
, he discovered Hoinsky's "advice" was misogynistic. "Don't ask for permission, GRAB HER HAND, and put it right on your dick" and "Force her to rebuff your advances" are just two outrageous directives from the author.
After the project raised more than $15,000, DoSomething.org
got 50,000-plus signatures to take the project down, and now Kickstarter has responded by donating $25,000 to anti-sexual violence program, RAINN
(Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network). And, according to the site, to avoid future similar issues, they're banning "seduction guides."
But does Kickstarter's response even solve the bigger problem and did they have to do anything beyond removing the project?
The problem is, Hoinsky's actual Kickstarter page had nothing offensive on it and Kickstarter doesn't vet projects outside of what's posted on their site.
It's wonderful we have crowdsourced platforms. It makes the world that much more democratic. Communities are formed over causes and creative innovation. But, does this mean that crowdfunding platforms need to do further digging, just like Malone did, or is it up to the potential funders?
I say, funders should know what they're funding, just like they should know more about the companies they bank with and the stocks in which they invest.
Here are four things you can do before donating to a crowdfunding campaign:
1) Don't assume every project is legit or meant to do good. There are scammers
out there that don't even have goals to create anything. So, read about the project owners. Find outside sources from their funding page that discuss what they aim to do.
2) Use your judgement. Whatever your moral compass may be, let it be your guide.
3) If you see a project that could be offensive, report it to the crowdfunding platform. Unless you speak out, they may never be aware there's a problem.
4) Crowd-do before you crowdfund.
Image courtesy of DoSomething.org