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Truth & Lies: donations online

Tweet We’re a cynical bunch aren’t we. If TV & Movies desensitize us to violence then the internet desensitizes us to charity & needs. I’ve had a couple of things happening recently that have highlighted the issues faced when wanting to or needing too raise funds online and just how hard it is becoming to [...]

We’re a cynical bunch aren’t we. If TV & Movies desensitize us to violence then the internet desensitizes us to charity & needs.

I’ve had a couple of things happening recently that have highlighted the issues faced when wanting to or needing too raise funds online and just how hard it is becoming to raise awareness and funds.

Lets take the case of my very good friend over at webhelp
His parents were involved in a terrible accident and as a result his father will be out of work for months. Now Richard put up a post on his website informing people and asking if they would donate a small amount to a fund to help the family.

I wanted to help and shared this on my blog & with my friends on StumbleUpon. One of these friend raised a jolly good point saying

I can’t support something I don’t know is real

I appreciate her taking the time to tell me that and it got me thinking. See I have the luxury of working along side Rich and knowing he’s telling the truth – but how do you? We’ve all seen before emails sent around or sites set up to help some person – only to find out later it’s a hoax. Have we become desensitized to real need?

CarcrashPeople have suggested that adding media to the post would help create some realism around it. Should someone have to post photos of an accident or someone in hospital to verify a story? And does that help – I took less than a minute to find the car crash image attached here (thanks to Branox @ It’s not of their accident – but you wouldn’t know that. Do we want images on the site to feed our desire to see destruction & hurt, or do we really want to verify the truth in the post?

Why is it now we can’t believe what we read?

Here is another example. I created a website as a way to have a laugh and raise some funds for charity. Now I realise I made a fundamental mistake by saying that 10% would go to charity for the first month and 100% from then on. I didn’t clarify that 10% was for the first month only and the 90% was to cover initial site set up. I didn’t initially see the site as 100% for charity – however everyone else did. I made 3 fundamental mistakes

  • I didn’t provide full disclosure of financial breakdown
  • I had incorrect wording on the site – from throwing the site together too fast
  • I didn’t update the site quickly enough to say Studiowhiz would cover costs so that 100% could go to charity

I’m also now going to have to fully rethink the site because the charities do not want to be associated with the word “idiot” – fair enough. So through me not thinking through ramifications of my actions fully – I feel I am now partly to blame for people not trusting what they see/read online. in the past has been known to raise significant amounts for people in need. One such instance saw us raise enough money to purchase a special needs laptop and interface equipment for a child suffering Cerebral Palsy. We whipped around a few websites and raised over US$1500. We had one huge advantage. The girls father was an active member of our community – we knew & many of us had shared in his journey (and still do).

I know donations have come in for Rich’s parents and on behalf of Rich I want to thank those who read about this on Studiowhiz and donated.

I welcome your comments – and would welcome your thoughts around:

  • How do you create honesty in a post asking for funds – eg: webhelp’s post?
  • Is it harder to believe what you read online today?
  • What can groups do to encourage fund raising online (eg: a youth group or charity that is NOT a big well known multinational charity)?

8 Responses


Mr K. on the charity thing.
I think your point of tapping into emotions of people is important. For example people who have the goal of raining money for emotive charities can create an inspirational powerpack complete with pictures, words and music on and spread it virally amoung friends. A picture is worth 1000 words. Picture + music = 10 000



This article is wonderful, and does bring up some very good points. Do I think of you as an “idiot” no. By doing this post it shows how much you do care and will improve your charities site. Unfortunately, in todays world one must question almost everything. That is sad..Lets hope it gets better….

Your friend’s Dad and Mom will be in my thoughts and prayers and maybe we all can chip in a lil and help out.

Thanks for taking the time to write and blog. Also, for being a great friend.



Thanks for the comments. Yeah I like to learn from mistakes and share them here allowing others to learn from them too.


Very interesting post, but to be sad that we can’t believe what we read is nothing new. Lies, hoaxes and propaganda have been around since Gutenberg invented the printing press. Where there are words there will be truth, art, beauty, humor, and yes lies. Plenty of them to go around. All the internet has done is made everything exponentially larger, so when a trend is created it always spirals out of control for a while.

But let us not forget junk mail, fake telephone solicitations, and any dictatorial government’s lie machine.
We do however live in a time of pure skepticism, and unfortunately I don’t see that leaving us anytime soon.

So just as we need content aggregators to help us weed through the content online, and news aggregators to help us weed through the news online, we may need cause aggregators to help us weed thruogh those. I just read about one yesterday.

Great post


Sad reality but true – fundraising for any cause (regardless of how worthy) is becoming increasingly difficult. I’ve worked on websites and IT systems for a couple of NZ charities now and it seems to be as much of a marketing issue as any commercial arena business faces. It’s no longer enough to tug on the heartstrings, you have to package the proposition better than the next team.
To answer your question I don’t think it’s necessarily harder to believe what you read (online or otherwise) but the sheer volume of requests is desensitising. I don’t have to hand the number of registered NZ charitable trusts for example, but the number (vs population) is staggering.
Good post Mr K.


Great post Mr K. I’ve had an overwhelming response from my post. I guess like everything else on the internet, you need to wade through loads of information before you find a gem.

Thanks for everyones support on this


Firstly to Richard…sorry to here what happened.

Secondly K, how is our friend D and his gorgeous little girl going??? You still in contact with him?


Sporadically yeah … all sounds good I believe she is now off to school – gosh doesn’t time FLY!!!