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It's been an interesting weekend.  Major drama and flameouts and accusations and things coming to light that are important.

What struck me the most were comments made by two people in the community.  Both broke my heart by their generosity and kindness that had been exploited and abused by members of this community.

Their comments made me go back to an idea that I have had for quite some time.  Something that I think would positively serve the community and also protect members of it as well.

A Daily Kos financial aid fund.

We have various income levels on Daily Kos.  Some of us are well off.  Some of us are struggling financially.  I have often come across stories and post that I would have liked to offer financial support.  

I don't have a means to do this unless I personally contact that person and I don't want to embarrass anyone or assume anything.  I also don't because I like my privacy (or illusion of it).

What if we had a financial aid fund?  A fund that would give out funds to anyone needing a hand.  I'm thinking mortgage payments, phone bills, college tuition, grocery money, doctor bills etc.  

I have been poor.  Poor as in 20 bucks left until my paycheck one week later and I still need bus fare and food.  I have been too poor to see a doctor both because I can't pay the doctor bill, have no health insurance and get paid hourly and have no vacation time.

I was always one disaster away from complete financial ruin.  I empathize and can sympathize on how stressful it is to live life that way.

I think we could have a fundraiser once a year.  Here is how I would structure it.  Feel free to add/disagree/comment on these.

1.  No one gets to see who donates and how much.  This is purely for charity. Daily Kos would see the final number and that is it.  If you need acknowledgement on how generous you are, go donate to something that will name a building after you.

2.  100% of Funds need to be used every year.  The point of the fund is to spend the money not hoard it.

3.  We allocated x% to certain areas.  We vote as a community.  For example:  x% on scholarships, x% of medical bills, x% on loan forgiveness.

4.  There is a community who decides on how the funds are distributed.  Accountability is a good thing and when it comes to money, more than one pair of eyes are needed.

5.  No hard cold cash is given out (with exceptional circumstances).  Unfortunately there are scammers and as much as I want to trust people, I don't.  The fund can pay a bill for someone or buy a hotel room or whatever the need but no hard cold cash.

6.  You can only make one request a year.  Again this is to protect ourselves from scammers.  How you make that request is up to you.  I think there should be both a public and private way to do that.  Need money to attend a protest or important cause.  Got into Harvard and need a scholarship, let us know.  Need money for groceries and don't care to make that public.  Completely understand.

7.  It doesn't need to be a hardship.  It could be something cool and fun.  A cool idea or group that you need some help getting off the ground.  

8.  A full audit (not of the people who received funds) but of what and where the money went once a year.  Quarterly updates.

9.  This might be controversial but it is one of the reasons I would like a fund.  Any person soliciting for cash or any other goods from any other member on this site using Kosmail is banned.  After reading somethings this weekend, I think this rule is needed.

So what do you think?  What am I missing?  Any legal/tax implications I am missing?

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Comment Preferences

  •  Are you kidding me? (6+ / 0-)

    What part of: a-bunch-of-crazy-people-have-recently-been-banned-for-manipulating-this-site-for-years do you not understand?

    Yes, let's have a fucking hardship fund that the nut cases can scam.

    People here have lost their fucking minds.

    •  Actually this is EXACTLY why I want a fund. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      jessical, Metric Only

      Do I think that nut cases would try to scam it.  YES.

      Do I think it would be harder with more than one pair of eyeballs on it?  YES

      Do I think it would protect some generous people on Daily Kos from being harassed and solicited for funds.  YES

      This diary is a DIRECT response to the craziness that has been going on.

    •  Not all of the people who have fallen on hard (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      sideboth, jessical, Odysseus, 1864 House

      times are nut cases or scammers, fou. I can think of a couple off hand who are, themselves, tremendous givers.

      When people live at or near poverty level, one little thing can throw their entire life into disarray. I know. I've been there.

      Your treatment of Sideboth was pretty brutal and I don't really see any reason for that. Was it dickish? Yeah, it was in my opinion.

      As to the subject of the diary, I think the timing may be a bit off right now, but maybe I am wrong about that.

      OTOH, many of us donate to people we know and appreciate and thus I think personal requests, in that sense, can really help. Many can donate just a little and some much more. It does add up and some wonderful people here have been helped in the past.

       

      The only hawk I like is the kind that has feathers. My birding blogs: http://thisskysings.wordpress.com/ and canyonbirds.net

      by cany on Mon Sep 01, 2014 at 11:06:29 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Sheesh...and I thought I was a pessimist... (0+ / 0-)

      (Bows to fou)

      I have never been fond of holding my nose and doing anything...even when someone farts in the elevator.

      by Love Me Slender on Mon Sep 01, 2014 at 11:16:42 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Bartleby the Scrivener said it best: (5+ / 0-)

    "I would prefer not to."

    But I don't feel a lot of trust about DK right now.

    I have no doubt that your idea comes from a very generous impulse, however.  

    It's the Supreme Court, stupid!

    by Radiowalla on Mon Sep 01, 2014 at 10:56:38 AM PDT

  •  We have a Community Fundraisers group (15+ / 0-)


    Community Fundraisers

    It is reserved for truly desperate cases and any potential beneficiary is vetted.  

    "Politics should be the part-time profession of every citizen who would protect the rights and privileges of free people and who would preserve what is good and fruitful in our national heritage." -- Lucille Ball

    by Yamaneko2 on Mon Sep 01, 2014 at 11:18:14 AM PDT

  •  I've seen the appeals and... (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    sideboth, Radiowalla, Odysseus, Azazello

    I've always been skeptical about them so I haven't participated in any of them.  Oh, I take that back.  I did contribute to the Brainwrap thing but that was more to encourage the kind of thing he did, not necessarily charity.

    What I do contribute to are legitimate charity institutions with public disclosures of their finances so that people can see how much of their money actually gets to the people that need it.

    The appeals that I have seen here have, frankly, often sounded fake.  I don't know if they are real or not.  Someone says they are about to be evicted unless they come up with $700: I could just as easily write that as they can.

    Voting isn't going to address the issue.  The only thing that will do is reward the cleverest of scam artists.  What we need are actual boots on the ground that we can trust.

    DailyKos could take on that role.  We have people in every city of the country.  DailyKos would have to do some due diligence on people around the country who were willing to go and actually meet, face-to-face anyone appealing for charity.  These KosCertified volunteers would then chime in on a request for charity and certify that the request was indeed genuine.

    That's a lot of effort for an organization that is NOT dedicated to doing charity.

    Better to use the traditional honest charities that already do that sort of thing.  Of course if DailyKos wants to take that on, more power to them.  I would trust DailyKos and contribute to it, if it was properly set up.

    You matter to them IF YOU VOTE!

    by nuketeacher on Mon Sep 01, 2014 at 11:37:08 AM PDT

    •  I agree with a lot in this post. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      jessical

      I do agree that the appeals I have seen strike me as fake.  I actually saw in real time, a scammer get caught by some vigilant members.

      Verification is important.  Face to face confirmation is important.  

  •  This is the worst idea I've ever heard (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    sideboth, Azazello, shesaid

    Here's a better one, stop asking for handouts on Dailykos!

    It encourages appallingly bad behavior. I am so beyond pissed off that a user was exploited, manipulated, and let's just say it, fucking extorted for money.

    Progressive luminaries my ass, these people were fucking con artists, and it needs to stop.

    This revolution is not scheduled!

    by harrylimelives on Mon Sep 01, 2014 at 11:43:31 AM PDT

    •  (((harry))) (0+ / 0-)

      Can I call you Harry?  I get where your frustration is coming from.

      I feel frustrated.  I do think that because we don't have anyway to help out well meaning people, the scammers get to exploit this place.

      I think if soliciting funds was off limits FULL STOP and there was another well vetted outlet for those who truly need help, it would help stop some of these things.

      Both commenters had a funny feeling about what was going on.  Both tried to reach out and get help.  Because there were no clear hard rules, this type of behavior persisted way longer than it should.

      And as for worst ideas, trust me, I have plenty more.  :)

  •  When I was in really hard straits... (9+ / 0-)

    ...a lot of years ago now...a community member hired me for a very short consulting gig.  I don't to this day know if they really needed the work done, and though the research was real enough and my ultimate recommendations were sound,  without question they overpaid me by a factor of two (and they sent a check after I said "don't do that", as well).  It was a very great help at a bad time.    I wouldn't have taken charity, but was in no position to return the check.  It was both incredibly helpful (both to get professional engagement and the money) and...a little weird.  My life has gotten a lot better since then, but I'm still in no position to pay that forward.  

    But...as a result I've tried to be supportive of people who seem genuinely needful on here, even if it's just a rec up.  At the same time, I'm all too aware that when people have nothing, the line between scammer and need is very thin.  If someone is a regular contributing member of the community, it is kind of obvious that they are...and a hand seems more than appropriate.  And yet you know that the shit that landed them in the hole is not going to let up.  This is a really nasty society for the poor.  And if you're poor and isolated, what you need more than anything is people to talk to, smart people who care about the same stuff you do.  So there's a natural mixing of people who have means and people with less than nothing.  Some help across that boundary seems inevitable.  And nothing we do in terms of organization will make those gifts sufficient.

    I guess I think that there's some boundary between free for all and grant group.  People often help others out of a spontaneous desire and temporary ability to do so.  It isn't always wise or best case, but like all acts of generosity it is hard to know the impact.  Sometimes the impact I think is that someone knows people give a shit, even if they can't make it all right or provide what is truly needed.

    At other points in my life I have been able to help others, a lot.  Like, enough to really get over the hump.  And so from the position of the giver, I know that what you get back is not a certainty that the recipient is good, or deserving, or will go the direction you hope they will go.  For the recipient, money is basic life stuff.  For the giver, money is a marker for care, an act of grace.  Institutional giving is another thing to me, with other goals.

    ...j'ai découvert que tout le malheur des hommes vient d'une seule chose, qui est de ne savoir pas demeurer en repos dans une chambre.

    by jessical on Mon Sep 01, 2014 at 11:47:37 AM PDT

  •  Huge legal and tax implications (7+ / 0-)

    For Kos as the site owner to take this on. Or for some independent body to take it on under "approval" auspices of Kos. It's really way outside of what could be termed the "core competency" of DKos. From my decades long career experience in non-profit social services I have to say we do not want to go there. Capitalize. Do Not Want. Underline them, too.

    I have no problem with people who are facing a specific personal issue posting it here. There are oodles of non-profit charities out there, large and small. There are government programs. Sites like GoFundMe and similar. Our members are all over the country, and many know about those programs and services - what's out there, how best to access it or use it, etc.  There are so many good brains, people with expertise in a whole slew of areas, who can provide good pointers or advice. Sometimes one or more among them even does offer direct financial aid.

    I do have a bit of a problem with folks posting direct pleas for funds, and I know some other members do too. There used to be a sort of unwritten rule, or expectation, that one didn't post such things themselves; but that another "sponsoring" member might do so on one's behalf. That is usually someone who has had a long standing relationship, including often in RL, with the person needing help. Someone who can vouch for the recipient, in a way. And repeat requests of that nature begin to raise eyebrows, too.

    Whether responding to individual needs that come to our attention, or giving to an organized fund such as you propose, there is always the "caveat emptor" hazard. Even with what seems to be thorough vetting there can be issues. The Nephew being one case in point. I also offered referrals and personal introductions in the instance of a veteran in need who was vouched for by another trusted member, who later admitted he too had been scammed by the "needy vet".

    “Texas is a so-called red state, but you’ve got 10 million Democrats here in Texas. And …, there are a whole lot of people here in Texas who need us, and who need us to fight for them.” President Obama

    by Catte Nappe on Mon Sep 01, 2014 at 12:24:18 PM PDT

  •  I'm with fou here. (4+ / 0-)

    I'm sure that this is a feature of the internet and not a bug, but every time this site (and by site, I mean the members of the site and not the owner) is generous, it gets used and abused.

    I think this place can be great; especially for isolated people, but I just spent the last two hours trying to figure out what happened over the weekend, and for a good many people, the relationship is not healthy.

    Dawkins is to atheism as Rand is to personal responsibility. Russia Today=FoxNews, Seralini=Wakefield. yadda yadda.

    by terrypinder on Mon Sep 01, 2014 at 01:15:17 PM PDT

  •  I think it's a good and noble idea... but... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    sideboth, Odysseus

    I'm the treasurer of a charitable foundation and I think creating a 501(c)3 foundation would be necessary to make people feel comfortable donating to generic fund raisers.  

    That would require a trusted board of directors, grant reviewers, volunteers on the ground to verify needs and deliver checks to landlords/hospitals/utility companies, and the expertise to produce financial reports to meet the IRS requirements to maintain that status. It's a big job.

    They always say time changes things, but you actually have to change them yourself. - Andy Warhol

    by 1864 House on Mon Sep 01, 2014 at 04:47:23 PM PDT

  •  I've been thinking a fund as well though (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    sideboth, Odysseus

    I have not expertise to know how that would be handled though Kos.

    My only suggestion would be to have specific requests made pretty much the same way they are now, by friends of a Kos user, on behalf of the person in need, or by the person themselves.  
    Make it a diary that repeats the request for several days and and collect on the basis of that specific request.
    Excess, hopefully, donation to remain in the pot for future needs.

    Kos readers could kick into the pot annually or for each given instance.

    At least there would be confidence as to where the money is going, whether pay pal or some other entity so that it gets to a person who actually needs it.

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