The Motherlode column published this column about families using online giving sites like GoFundMe to fund things like rent and medical bills. I've seen lesbian moms crowdsourcing funds for custody fights, crowdfunding to pay for divorces and related expenses, and a vociferous debate about lesbian moms and moms-to-be about the ethics and etiquette of crowdsourcing infertility treatments.
I wouldn't be surprised if there is a big structural story there about longterm unemployment and underemployment, heathcare costs, and debt. But I wonder if crowdsourcing is just a new platform for an old practice. People without money have always gone to people with money for help, and people with money have always given money to people in need. Maybe crowdsourcing is symptomatic of the growing divide between those who have and those who don't? If you don't live in an economically diverse community, you don't have people to ask directly for help, and those who would like to give don't necessarily have personal connections to those in need. Or maybe it's a Bowling Alone issue, where people (like me) don't have a church or union or social club to go to for help. Or maybe it's just a pragmatic response to the fact that most of us do live online, and by going online you can tap into a seemingly unlimited pool of potential donors.