By Thom Feeney
Jul 2, 2015
You know when you just have a little idea, have a laugh to yourself and then move on with your day? I do that a lot, only on Sunday night, I didn’t let it pass but decided to try it out for real.
So, sat at the table after dinner, I started a crowdfunding campaign to try to rescue the Greek economy. Some basic maths told me that I only needed the entire population of Europe to donate €3.19 (£2.26) to reach the amount of the bailout fund. I included some nice perks for donating, including a Greek salad and holiday in Athens for two, and set up a page on IndieGoGo and a Twitter account.
Nobody was that interested at first, but after a couple of small stories on the internet, the idea seemed to explode overnight. I woke up to 1,200 emails and it got even more crazy from there.
I set up the crowdfunding campaign to support the Greek bailout because I was fed up with the dithering of our politicians. Every time a solution to bail out Greece is delayed, it’s a chance for politicians to posture and display their power, but during this time the real effect is on the people of Greece.
I wondered, could the people of Europe just have a crack at fixing this? Less talk, more direct action. If we want to sort it, let’s JFDI (just effing do it)! On Tuesday, between leaving for work and returning home, the crowdfunding page had raised over €200,000 in around six hours, which was incredible. This isn’t just about raising the cash, though. In providing the perks, we would be stimulating the Greek economy through trade – buying Greek products and employing Greeks to source and send the perks out.
The way to help a struggling economy is by investment and stimulus – not austerity and cuts. This crowdfunding is a reaction to the bullying of the Greek people by European politicians, but it could easily be about British politicians bullying the people of the north of England, Scotland and Wales. I want the people of Europe to realise that there is another option to austerity, despite what David Cameron and Angela Merkel tell you.
The reaction has been tremendous, I’ve received thousands of goodwill message and as I write almost €630,000 has been pledged by more than 38,000 donors. Many Greek people are messaging me to say how overjoyed they are to hear that real people around Europe care about them. It must be hard when you think the rest of the continent is against you.
The beauty of the internet and social media means that a campaign like this can become possible by word-of-mouth and people all across the world can get involved very quickly. The chance to use a crowdfunding site for social good is really exciting and I hope that others will follow my lead in future and start or get behind projects like this. Of course I would prefer that we had governments that listened and connected with the public, but I guess that getting people involved at a grassroots level might be the next best thing.
While I thought the campaign was near impossible when I started, I’ve since downgraded that to merely “improbable”. I sincerely hope that in the coming weeks I, and hundreds of Greeks, will be employed in wrapping bottles of ouzo and sending postcards of Alexis Tsipras out to people who have donated. The infrastructure required to do that alone would be quite something. But just think of the party!
Ultimately, I’m very proud of the people – not just from the UK, Greece or Europe but those from all over the world – who have got involved with this campaign. It truly is by the people, for the people.