GoFailMe: The Unfulfilled Promise of Digital Crowdfunding

Stanford Univ. Sept. 2023. 230p. ISBN 9781503636927. pap. $25. SOC SCI
Well-intentioned family members or friends sometimes turn to crowdsourcing to raise money for funeral costs after a tragic loss, for someone facing a life-threatening medical diagnosis, or for other unexpected situations. But lots can go wrong with this approach, according to Schneiderhan (sociology, Univ. of Toronto; The Size of Others’ Burdens) and researcher Lukk. In their compelling, well-documented book, they examine thousands of crowdsourcing cases across Canada and the U.S. on websites like GoFundMe. Their book shows that sites like these often fail users and are rife with inequities that closely parallel the social problems that plague societies today. The authors present quantitative and anecdotal evidence that crowdsourcing platforms often involve behind-the-scenes manipulation that renders some sites more prominent than others; competition to write the best narrative or post the most heartrending photo; hidden costs to individuals who set up the accounts and to their donors; and, perhaps most prominently, the loss of privacy and emotional turmoil that inevitably follows. Still, Schneiderhan and Lukk believe that with greater thoughtfulness, transparency, pushback from users, and government oversight, crowdsourcing sites can be salvaged.
VERDICT For readers who are contemplating either setting up a crowdsourcing site or donating to one.
Comment Policy:
  • Be respectful, and do not attack the author, people mentioned in the article, or other commenters. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  • Don't use obscene, profane, or vulgar language.
  • Stay on point. Comments that stray from the topic at hand may be deleted.
  • Comments may be republished in print, online, or other forms of media.
  • If you see something objectionable, please let us know. Once a comment has been flagged, a staff member will investigate.



We are currently offering this content for free. Sign up now to activate your personal profile, where you can save articles for future viewing