Indiegogo to the rescue? London man launches Greece crowdfunding campaign

30 Jun 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

A British man crowdfunding a Greek bailout has raised a 6-figure sum.

LONDON (AFP) – A British shoe shop worker has launched an online crowdfunding campaign to raise the money for Greece to meet its IMF debt repayment due on Tuesday, saying he just wanted to help austerity-stricken Greeks. The online fundraising project comes as UK Prime Minister David Cameron says Greece should leave the Euro currency if it rejects the latest austerity proposals in a referendum Sunday.

Hours away from its deadline to repay its loan to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Greece is getting help from an unlikely place: a crowdfunding campaign. Thom Feeney told AFP outside his shop in London’s Covent Garden that he had been overwhelmed by the response and the messages of support, raising €209,000 (S$315,000) by 1600 GMT (midnight Singapore time) after just two days. Feeney launched the fundraising campaign on Monday after he became tired of the “dithering” response of European leaders to the Greek debt crisis and decided to take matters into his own hands.

More than 13,000 people have donated to the IndieGoGo project “Greek Bailout Fund” so far but it was still a long way from the final target of €1.6 billion that Greece needs to make its debt payment. “Watching politicians going round in circles and dithering somewhat with making a decision on Greece, I just thought, I think it just needs someone to step in and sort it,” said the bearded 29-year-old, who was dressed in shorts and a T-shirt. “I think the people of Europe can do that much quicker than the politicians can… Surprisingly, many of the donations have come from Britain and Germany, two countries whose leaders have taken a hard line on Greece’s debt repayments. “The European Union is home to 503 million people,” campaign founder Thom Feeney writes on his crowdfunding page, so “if we all just chip in a few Euro then we can get Greece sorted and hopefully get them back on track soon. Easy.” Greece is supposed to make a €1.6 billion ($1.8 billion) loan repayment to the IMF Tuesday, but the country doesn’t have the money to make that payment, so it will most likely default.

He promises that all of the money raised will go towards the Greek people and has said he would send a plethora of gifts to people who donate to the fund. Since setting up the webpage on Sunday, Feeney said the reaction has “snowballed”, with “hundreds, if not thousands of goodwill messages” flooding in from across Europe.

Pledge €3 euro and you’ll receive a postcard of Greek Prime Minister Alex Tsipras, pledge €6 and receive a Greek feta and olive salad right to your door. And as the government appears to be poised to miss a debt payment with no deal in sight, scores of Greeks, worried that their country may be forced to leave the eurozone, are running to the banks to withdraw money that may soon be worth less, leading to a potentially disastrous bank run.

Mr Feeney originally offered a Greek island to anybody who donated the full €1.6 billion but retracted the gift as the Greek government never agreed to the offer. “I thought that Mr Tsipras would happily accept that, but IndieGoGo emailed me to say that as the Greek Government had not officially agreed to this, I wasn’t allowed to offer it,” he said. “There are 500 million people in the EU. The list of perks also originally included a private Greek island for whoever could come up with the 1.6 billion euros in full, but Feeney had to retract the offer because Indiegogo said it had no proof he could actually offer that. Osborne also took the unusual step of issuing holiday advice, cautioning holidaymakers visiting Greece to take hundreds of euros in cash in the event the country’s cashpoints run dry. Feeney’s Indiegogo campaign, which also has a Twitter handle, @GreekBailout, may be idealistic – it’s certainly not likely to reach its goal – but it is indicative of how problems are solved today.

Now, if you’re skeptical that one guy in London could deliver on perks on such an ambitious scale, that’s nothing compared to the original bonuses offered. Ordinary people have turned to hundreds of crowdfunding sites to raise money for disaster relief, citizen journalism, artistic projects, political campaigns, startup businesses, even scientific research.

According to the World Bank, that number may swell to $96 billion by 2025. “Many major news organizations are now highlighting noteworthy campaigns,” Bill Clerico, CEO of WePay, a payment service provider for crowdfunding, told Business News Daily. “That’s not just good for the campaigns, but it also normalizes the behavior,” he says, which leads to more people donating to crowdfunding campaigns. Feeney, whose campaign has been derided for its outlandish goal, says, “I can understand why people might take it as a joke, but crowdfunding can really help.”

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