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What We Teach

Responsibility in the Age of Crowdfunding

At Youth Entrepreneurs, our Foundational Values not only guide behavior, they are central to our curriculum and significant in helping our students grow. Each month we explore real world examples of Foundational Values in everyday practice and provide a catalyst for discussion, allowing students to further engage and seize opportunities for good.

This month, we take a look at a story that made headlines recently.

You may be familiar with the recent story about a New Jersey couple’s good deed gone bad. After running out of gas, a young woman was stranded on the highway when she was approached by a homeless veteran who graciously gave her his last $20.00. The woman was so touched by the gesture, that she and her boyfriend decided to create a GoFundMe campaign in an effort to raise money for the kind-hearted man. All told, the campaign raised more than $400,000.00. But nearly one year later, the couple is under investigation for using large sums of the donations to fund lavish vacations, a new luxury car, designer clothing and more - for themselves.

What appeared to be the perfect example of two individuals putting Foundational Values into practice, turned out to be anything but.

Often referred to as “a kickstarter platform for causes”, GoFundMe, the online crowdfunding platform, has raised more than $5 billion since its inception in 2010. You’ve likely given to, or at the very least, come across a GoFundMe campaign while scrolling through your Facebook feed. So is it any wonder that more and more people are turning toward to the platform for a varying degree of philanthropic endeavors? These days, even students are getting involved, creating campaigns for everything from relatives in need to college tuition support.

With so many opportunities to solicit the trust and financial generosity of others, the need to focus on Foundational Values is critical.

Let’s look at a few of the missed opportunities to display Foundational Values and discuss ways YE students can do better.

Knowledge

It’s easy to see why so many people felt compelled to give so generously to this particular campaign. Afterall, the initial thought appears to demonstrate the Foundational Value of knowledge, an effort to drive change that had the potential to truly benefit a person in need.  But if we look closer, we see a missed opportunity to use knowledge to discover ways that more long-term solutions could have been realized for this man. What needs will he have in the future? What opportunities exist to help him find work? A stable home? And aid him in getting on a path to self-sufficiency.

Passion

It’s possible their intentions were pure in the beginning, but what happened next was a far cry from that. On the surface, one could argue that this effort was solely focused on improving the lives of others, truly speaking to the Foundational Value of Passion. However, it became clear that this couple did not find fulfilment in helping others.

Be Principled

What appeared to be an effort focused on helping someone in need, turned out to be an effort with a clear absence of respect and integrity.

What happens to the couple remains to be seen, but how students approach similar scenarios is an area worth focusing on. While we can’t always be sure of the intentions of others, we can focus on our own best efforts to do good and inspire positive change in the world.

The YE Foundational Values are at the heart of everything we do. And each day, students have the opportunity to put these values into practice. These Values were developed with the elements of a flourishing society in mind. By exploring real world examples, and providing time for thoughtful discussion, we can help students apply these values to their own lives.

Discussion Questions

Think of a time when a tremendous amount of trust was given to you. How did you respond? Were you proud of your actions? Would others be proud of you?

When you raise funds to support a cause, what are your responsibilities, not just to the recipients, but to your donors as well?

What circumstances might make it difficult to deliver on your commitment to donate? How would the Foundational Values guide your decisions?

What Foundational Values were missing in the news story highlighted above? Were any present and if so, which ones and who possessed them?

Was the couple practicing being Principled? Where do you see demonstrations of this value or a lack of it? Explain.