Behold the power of crowdfunding.
Over the weekend, Yorkshire native Thom Feeney, frustrated with politicians “dithering” over the Greek debt crisis, started an Indiegogo campaign to bail out the ailing nation. In the three days since, he has raised more than €1 million from about 60,000 people around the world, in a show of support that Mr. Feeney has called “overwhelmingly positive.”
“I’ve received so many tweets, emails and messages of support and thanks,” he wrote on the campaign’s page. Feeney added that he had originally meant for the project to be purely practical, having calculated that a 3-euro donation from every person in Europe would cover the €1.6 billion ($1.8 billion) in loans that Greece needs to repay the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
“But it has really struck a chord with so many people emotionally,” said Feeney, who now lives in London. “I feel quite emotional about it all myself now, I’ve had to have a sit down and a strong cup of Yorkshire Tea!”
The effort has received funding from people in the United States, Australia, Belgium, the Netherlands, France, and a number of other nations – as well as encouragement from all over the world.
An Irish journalist based in Brussels tweeted that the effort showed a “decency” that neither negotiating team reflected, while a user from Singapore urged others to buy themselves a Greek souvenir – a perk that comes with donating towards the campaign.
Still others applauded Feeney and the other donors:
Surprisingly, the campaign has attracted the most support from Britain and Germany, the two countries whose leaders have taken a tough stance on Greece's debt repayments, The Christian Science Monitor’s Husna Haq noted yesterday.
The flood of support has given Feeney reason to hope.
"While I thought the campaign was near impossible when I started, I’ve since downgraded that to merely 'improbable,' " he wrote in an opinion piece for The Guardian.
Should it succeed, the campaign will earn the title of the highest-earning crowdfunding effort ever, far surpassing the $77 million that upcoming video game Star Citizen has raised between October 2012 and March 2015, via both Kickstarter and the game developers’ website.
Other successful campaigns include the Pebble Time watch, which has raised upwards of $20 million from more than 78,000 donors on Kickstarter, and a honey harvesting device called Flow Hive, which made more than $12 million on Indiegogo.
For Feeney, however, it’s about more than just raising cash.
Perks that come with donating to the campaign – which include a Tsipras postcard, a Greek salad, and a trip to Athens for two – are also designed to help stimulate the Greek economy by encouraging people to buy Greek products and employing Greeks to source and send out the perks.
“The way to help a struggling economy is by investment and stimulus – not austerity and cuts,” Feeney wrote. “This crowdfunding is a reaction to the bullying of the Greek people by European politicians ... I want the people of Europe to realise that there is another option to austerity, despite what David Cameron and Angela Merkel tell you.”
[Editor's note: A technical problem appears to be keeping the Indigogo crowdfunding site from refreshing, leaving the fundraising total frozen at €874,356. The Indigogo homepage, however, still reflects the total observed earlier, over €1,000,000 and growing.]