Broadcast journalism graduate Maddy Anand talks about what she’s learned from interviewing 30 YouCaring users. They talked with her about how they’ve benefited in different ways from fundraising on YouCaring.com. In addition to raising critically needed funds, these perseverant people reveal that in the most difficult times, there is empowerment, joy, and inspiration in asking for help from others. Maddy outlines these crowdfunding tips and fundraising insights in a conversation with YouCaring:
Q: Tell us why you chose to do this YouCaring assignment:
A: “I like news; you can incite change with stories. I really wanted to incite change and be able to tell people’s stories, so I thought YouCaring perfectly fit that idea. I’ve always been on the video side in learning broadcast journalism. You can capture emotion in video, and it’s profound to see it and share it.”
Q: What was it like to talk with people involved with fundraising for loved ones?
A: “First, I want to commend the people who start YouCaring pages for their family or friends because I think it comes from the purest form of wanting to help beyond your personal means, and really just doing anything and everything to try to help them.
“It’s even more admirable to me that so many YouCaring users told me they want to pay it forward and tend to be advocates or spread awareness of whatever they’re going through. It’s just beautiful that the impact you make on someone’s life doesn’t end there, it inspires someone to make an impact on someone else’s life, and it just keeps going from there.”
Q: What led these people to start a YouCaring fundraiser?
A: “These are some technical things people told me: ‘YouCaring gives you the most bang for your buck’. And, “You can upload as many pictures as you like, unlike on other fundraising sites.’
“I think it’s important to note the compassion that people have for people they know or for people they don’t know. I think it’s really funny when other people seek help, we tell them, don’t be afraid, and we want to support them. But when we need help, it can be one of the hardest things to ask for.
“It’s funny that some people also see it as a weakness. They start a YouCaring page and they feel empowered. So many people are replying to their page and wishing them luck. They get empowerment from something that they thought was a weakness.
“Once people decided on crowdfunding, there were personal battles they had to confront. Being able to admit you need help is tough. It’s easier to have the help of family and friends who can do it for you, rather than going through the process yourself. Sharing personal details: people don’t tend to do that often but when they do they see a lot of success. The more candid people are on their fundraisers the more successful they are. Honestly, because If you sugarcoat things, people won’t be able to understand it. You want people to see what life is like through your eyes, so they can make an educated decision on if and how much they want to donate. Just be as human as possible, and in that way you’re much more relatable. Nobody ever looks down on someone who needs help.”
Q: What problems were YouCaring fundraiser families trying to solve?
A: “The majority are parents with children who need help. It’s a unique subsection: parents. Parents will do anything and everything to help their child. Children cannot help themselves or don’t know how, so it calls upon other people to do it for them.”
Q: What was the hardest thing that stood out for them in the fundraising?
A: “Sometimes it’s hard for people to understand what to do when their fundraiser is at a standstill in reaching their goal, and how to re-stimulate it or resurface their story when it’s not new any more. They must re-share it.“
Q: Did they enjoy anything about the experience?
A: “Reading the comments people write, the encouraging words, although the words on same topic, it’s almost an escape from real life to get to read both friends’ and strangers’ comments. They liked engaging in something that’s related to your problem but yet very different from it – it is very relieving to them. It’s emotional support for them.”
Q: How well did the fundraisers do?
A: “The majority are close to their goals or go over them. I noticed that when people are proactive and take advantage of all the resources they have, and share their stories, they are the most successful. A lot of people use numerous, alternative fundraiser activities in real life, and work with companies. Some partner with restaurants that would donate a part of their profits. These ideas are a great supplement to the online fundraiser.”
Q: What did you learn?
A: “I am very news oriented. When you look at a lot of things going on in the world, it seems like the world looks so broken. But when you talk to people who need support you always find that they can find it in their community or one of their communities. There seems to be always someone who is willing to help. There is always someone who is there for you, monetarily or otherwise. So that was really inspiring to me to know that if something were to happen to me – it’s not like you’re on your own – all you have to do is put a hand out and reach out, and people will almost always respond to that, just because we’re all human.
“Beyond that, it’s just really inspiring to see how positive people are. I go to see their houses and very personal areas of their lives, and they’re just very positive, and they love to share their experiences. They are very upbeat and positive people, despite their circumstances.”
Q: Did anything make you angry or sad?
A: “A lot of the parents will say things like, ‘children don’t know any better; they’ve been sick since birth and this is just life for them.’ I didn’t think that was fair to them, and that was something that upset me a little bit. The main thing is that some children aren’t allowed to be children, and it’s funny, they’re just as happy as other children. They weren’t afforded the same opportunities, like go on a roller coaster or go to a beach.”
Q: Has this experienced changed you?
A: “It’s changed me in a lot of ways. Other than the inspiration it’s provided me, It’s taught me that many times, people don’t need any more than just someone to listen to their problems or even to be around them. They need other people. We are all human. When something happens, we tend to think, how can I help? You want to do something, like bring them dinner. But sometimes none of that is even needed. It really is that spirit of giving that warms my heart, and I think can overcome anything, because at the end of the day, we’re all human and tragedy doesn’t discriminate.
“Despite hearing these sad, unfortunate stories, it has been such an uplifting and inspirational experience for me, because of the fate these people have and their perseverance to keep going despite anything that gets in their way.
“And it taught me a lot about human nature. It changed my perspective. If I ever needed to start a YouCaring page, it would never be an issue for me. I wouldn’t have to feel bad or scared about it. Because I know that it is so empowering – with the kindness of people. One family told me, ‘The kindness of complete strangers just blows you away.’
“I think if you focus on just one person, one cause, one thing, you will feel so much more empowered to enact change,” Maddy says, and then she recalls a quote by Mother Teresa: ‘Never worry about numbers. Help one person at a time and always start with the person nearest you.’”