Ask money for
anything and everything
It’s a common practice worldwide to ask for financial assistance
for various purposes by different means ranging from street side
begging to appealing in media like newspapers. With the advance in
technology, we have a new dimension of hitherto known forms of
asking for alms-Cyber begging.
The causes may be
different, but the objective is the same-Money. The tales of woe
vary. But the request is the same: They want people to send money
via home pages that are becoming a cottage industry on the Web.
Skeptical Internet experts have even coined a term for the trend;
they call it "cyber begging."
As the word
implies, Cyber begging is an online phenomenon where one asks for
alms from people browsing internet. The necessity to beg may not
be as primitive as shortage of food, cloth or shelter as in the
case of conventional begging. The objectives of online begging may
vary from not being able to clear certain debts to fund shortage
for one’s proposed world tour!
defined by the Web site cyberbeggar.org, is a mode of fundraising
that is carried out through donations over the Internet. The
cyber-beggar creates a Web site (or joins a website meant for such
a purpose) detailing his or her financial plight in the hopes of
attracting donations for his or her cause. Yahoo! started calling
such a process e-panhandling and is all set to launch a
category on the same in its portal Yahoo.com.
situation of being in debt can be caused by credit cards, car
payments or college loans. Trying to pay off that debt can be even
worse. Cyber- begging has proven to be easy and convenient form of
raising money to overcome such financial crisis.
One will never
feel he or she will be at the mercy of people giving donations.
Anonymity can be very well maintained on the net and probability
of donors’ counter verification of the cause is minimal. It
doesn’t matter you like taking money from people or not, as you’ve
nothing to loose and everything to gain.
not ask money to buy a piece of bread; they need money for goods
and services. A lot of them need to pay their debts. They beg to
clear a credit card debt, to make a breast enlargement operation,
to pay for medical care or education, to help a woman to divorce
her husband, to make a movie or an album, or to buy a hummer jeep.
Beggars ask for various sums of money: from several cents to a
wrote that the first person to launch a cyber-begging site was a
woman named Karyn Bosnak. Her website was called Save Karyn. It is
possible to cast doubts on her championship, although her success
was obvious. She had a credit card debt of over 20 thousand on
June 23, 2002. Karyn Bosnak decided the following for herself: all
I need is to get one dollar from 20 thousand people, or two
dollars from ten thousand people, or five dollars from four
thousand people. As a result, people transferred thirteen thousand
dollars to the woman; she added some of her money and paid her
debt on November 10th, 2002. As you can see, it took her less than
six months to do away with her problem. Karyn has been saved. Now
she patronizes other beggars, claiming copyright for her idea.
New York Times
confirms that the e-panhandling epidemic was launched together
with Save Karyn website. Therefore, the date of June 23, 2002 can
be considered the cyber-begging birthday.
To begin with:
It’s obvious that
creating your own site for begging will have extra advantage, but
all beggars may not be privileged enough to own one, since
maintaining a site requires considerable technical skills and of
course money. Many sites exist on net such as Cyberbeg.com,
cyberbegger.org or donantemoney2me.com etc with the exclusive
objective of begging or assisting online beggers. A prospective
beggar registers himself here; he’ll be allocated a sub domain
where he describes his crisis in most appealing manner. The host
site provides all assistance to optimize returns- such as tips to
draft a more appealing request, submission to search engines etc.
Host sites do charge a nominal amount for their service and/or
earn money by advertising.
donors browsing through the net who visit such pages and feel like
giving away few dollars may make their contribution either by
conventional snail mail in form of cash or cheque or draft, or by
electronic fund transfer facilitated by online payment processors
line Paypal (owned by ebay.com).
The subtitle of
DonateMoney2Me.com is quite impressive! “It's absolutely legal,
ethical, honorable and popular!” it says. This is a "accumulate
money slowly and surely" program, not a "get rich quick" program.
A quick glance through FAQs of such sites is very much likely to
influence most people to attempt making few bucks by signing up.
If a webmaster of
a begging site provides his or her full name, as well as the
detailed description of a trouble, this site will enjoy great
popularity amid benefactors. It goes without saying that if a
benefactor-s problem has something in common with the one of a
cyber-beggar; a webpage will be even more popular.
Most of the
cyber-begging websites are of the "give me a few bucks to help me
pay off my credit card" ilk, but there are a few that are more
creative, bizarre and sometimes even worthy. More impressive your
site is, more will be the amount pouring in.
examples of the way they beg:
Ed Mayhall, a
29-year-old web developer in Dallas, Texas, needs a Hummer. A
Hummer - or Humvee, to use its proper name - is a pig-ugly,
off-road vehicle developed for the US army. They cost about
$120,000. If you're feeling frivolous, you can give Mayhall a
couple of bucks at
www.saveshela.com. A musical artist known as Shela, who lives
in Toronto is the owner of this site. She is currently asking for
donations on her Web site to help pay off debt incurred from
writing and recording her music. The Web site also offers an
outlet where people can promote their music.
She says it was a
mixture of frustration and her experience working with the
Internet that led her to the idea of starting her personal
fundraising site. As a computer hardware instructor she was "aware
of how powerful a tool the Web could be." A tool she hopes will
help her music career off the ground.
“I have not
listed myself as a charity," she says, “an action that would
require certain registration and guidelines.” It is a simple gift.
Anyone can give a stranger a gift right?" Her instructions are
clear-“if you’re sending cash wrap it to ensure that it’s not
see through” and “Do not write Save Shela on envelop as
post office would think I’m running business”.
31 years old Kent
is looking for $9,858 for a hair transplant, and he gives 10
"good" reasons why you should give him money, one of them being
because "I'm a really nice guy".
Penny wants you
to help her leave her husband (www.helpmeleavemyhusband.com
). She needs $12,000 to train as a nurse. This will give her the
financial independence to help her start on her own.
from Canada has Lyme disease and wants you to help her pay her
medical bills. Glasser has made more than $8,000 (Canadian) since
she created her website
www.helpjennifer.com. Most of the money has come from a friend
of a friend whom she's never met.
If you're an
opera buff, you may take pity on Elaine. She racked up $40,000 in
student debt and she wants you to help her pay it off and fund her
opera-singing lessons - a snip at $50 per hour (see
Natalie's spoof cyber-begging website is also good for a laugh (http://egomania.nu/causes/indexsoc.html
). "When I am purchasing overpriced lingerie or firearms I might
think of you," she says. That's more than enough inducement for
most would-be benefactors.
Stoppelenburg, a journalism student at the Windesheim University
in Zwolle, Netherlands, decided to finance his trip by setting up
a Web site asking people around the globe to put him up for a day.
www.letmestayforaday.com , offering to write about people's
hospitality in exchange for bed and board.
The response has
been spectacular. In 12 days, over 11,000 invitations came in from
around the world, more than 600 of which have been accepted, and
still, the offers come pouring in. Some of them like a response
from India offering him a roof for as long as he likes as well as
an offer to show him around the entire subcontinent, have
overwhelmed him. "What hospitality," he wondered aloud, "what
For his part,
Stoppelenburg has offered all his hosts a roof should they visit
For all its
apparent ridiculousness, cyber-begging is becoming a
well-entrenched industry. There is a website, www.savemesites.com,
(created by Steve Donohue) which offers e-panhandlers tips for
selling banner advertisements and getting listed on search
engines. And cyber-begging has now become so common there's even a
directory to help you navigate them. Some are even tax deductible
Last but not
least, we’ve got a successful Indian example too. Check out
www.rajatkapoor.com , the website of Rajat Kapoor, the
director-actor who made his presence felt in films like Dil Chahta
Hai and Monsoon Wedding, who is canning his new film titled Raghu.
The big news about this small film is that Kapoor has managed to
get it rolling as per schedule, with a considerable amount of
finance for the movie coming in from friends and strangers, thanks
to the power of the internet. His site reads. “I am starting my
new film Raghu… I have been trying to raise money for this film
for the last two years…I invite you to be a part-producer in the
film…You can contribute anything over Rs 10,000 and you will have
a pro-rata share in the profit of the film…I need 120 such
partners who would buy a minimum of one share.” The idea clicked
and amount to the tune of few lakhs were collected, registering
first ever successful cyber begging case in India.
All these sites
claim to be true and serious. By the way, cyber-beggars donate
money to each other sometimes. This is something like a mutually
beneficial promotion. Of course, there are people, who wish to
promote and advertise e-panhandling sites. And there’s lot of fun
in it too- you may find a man, who asks people to make him richer
than Bill Gates.
used to donate their funds to orphanages, schools, salvation camps
and other charitable organizations. Now those people are ready to
give away their money to someone that they have never seen before.
Experts believe that cyber-beggars get more and more talented
every day, making their websites more technical, making their
stories touchier. On the whole, the e-panhandling business
prospers and flourishes before your very eyes. Cyber-beggars evoke
compassion and sympathy with professional sincerity, so to speak.
The event of
cyber begging appears to be left unnoticed by the makers of IT
laws, as there’s no reference to such a practice in Cyber Laws.
Thus the practice may be treated legal as long as no fraud is
involved. If payment is made in physical mode it may be easy to
trace it. But it’s difficult to check how genuine the cause is and
in what way funds were utilized, when transactions are done
As long as
there’ll be generous people who are willing to give away few
dollars, there’ll be takers. As for the beggar, as idiom has it,
tiny drops make mighty ocean.
If a person is
facing serious trouble, that can’t be sorted out by conventional
practices, asking for assistance online may be justified. But with
every tom dick and harry going online with his own grievances and
pleading aggressively with an intention of making few quick bucks,
we’re heading towards a situation where a donor would loose faith
in the system and a genuine beggar will be deprived of his chances
of overcoming his woes.
Such a situation
can (and should) be avoided if we use the internet resource
sensibly and ethically.