If I Had a Million Dollars…
About 5 months ago, I came up with a stupid idea. After I crowd-funded my dog Macaroni using GoFundMe, I wondered aloud to a friend, “What if I could become the first crowd-funded millionaire?” It was a joke, but from that off-handed comment came an idea. At first, it was all about whether I could actually do it. The idea was simple: get one million people to give me a dollar. With today’s world of viral reach of crazy ideas, it didn’t seem all that far-fetched. If I tell my friends, they tell their friends, those friends tell their friends…exponential growth until we hit the mark. Easy enough, right?
The thing is, I don’t care about money all that much. I’m not going to lie and say I don’t like money, because I do enjoy having it. What I enjoy even more is spending it. So as the idea for this project fomented in my brain, I kept asking myself “what would you do with the money?”
I knew if I set out to crowd-fund a million dollar bankroll and told people I was going to spend it lavishly on myself, I’d probably never make it. It just seems to me that people would scoff at that idea. Soon after, I thought I could make it a competition to see how fast I could spend the money. But spending a million dollars on frivolous things “just because” also seemed like a bad idea. I wanted something more if I was going to put myself out there for such an off-the-wall idea. I needed to find a reason to ask the world to give me $1.
Then it hit me. See, I’ve never been a millionaire, but at one point in my life I got kind of close. I was earning a lot in the heyday of the Bloodhound Gang. Those were fun, heady times. Sadly, time between records didn’t earn me much and the money dwindled and now I live pretty much paycheck to paycheck like most people. One thing I learned when I did have money though was to be generous. Whether it’s a good tip at a restaurant or taking my friend out for the night, I was never afraid to spend my money on the pleasure of others. If I wanted to go to Vegas, I’d take my friends. If I wanted to go out for dinner, someone got to eat for free with me. Spending my money with other people was more fun than spending it by myself. Enter the proverbial lightbulb over my head…
The Million Dollars That Wasn’t Mine
If I could indeed crowd-fund a million dollars, it wouldn’t be right to keep it all to myself, would it? Instead, I could use it to make people smile. Call it random acts of kindness, paying it forward, or being the eccentric guy with cash…but imagine it. A guy raises a million dollars and then gives it away. It’s a fun story if you stop and think about it for a minute.
So that’s the idea. Raise a million dollars and then use it to make people smile. It really is that simple.
I have set up a GoFundMe page with a goal of $1,000,000.
When the goal is reached, several things will occur and I have outlined them below.
- GoFundMe – Of course, with anything there is a price. GoFundMe and WePay (who handles the movement of the money) charge a total of 7.9% + $0.30 per transaction. The percentage isn’t all that much, but the 30 cents adds up quickly. My original goal was to get $1 from each person, but looking at the numbers I’ve had to change that plan slightly. If 1,000,000 people each give me a dollar, the fee to GoFundMe and WePay would amount to $380,000! That’s a huge chunk out of the money. That’s why I’ve decided to try for 200,000 people each giving $5. That right there gives them $140,000, a savings of $240,000 – nearly a quarter of a million dollars! Of course, I’ll take any contribution – large or small, but keep in mind that the larger the sum, the more money that is there to be spent in the end. I suggest pooling funds with friends to try and maximize the benefit!
- Uncle Sam – Taxes. Sadly, they’ll need paid too. The IRS will get their cut before anyone else. Obviously, I can’t be left footing the tax bill, so this is just common sense.
- Debt – I have debts. While I’d like to avoid using this to pay them, the minute this kind of money transfers the wolves will be at my door and the money would wind up tied up in courts and legal red tape. In order to prevent this, I will pay these off. Please note: debt does not include paying off my car or any mortgage (I don’t have one). I will work with a lawyer to keep this to a minimum (most of my debts have been around for awhile, so negotiation for settlement will be the best way to go).
- Let the Fun Begin – This is what this whole crazy idea is about. The first thing I will do with whatever cash is in the pool is take 10% and donate it to Love For Paws Rescue, because they were the catalyst for this whole project (via Macaroni as I mentioned previously). After that, the sky’s the limit. Some of the money will be spent on the Reward Levels I will create throughout the project. Some of it will be used for things that sound fun, might be a little crazy, and serve to make someone’s day. Some of the ideas already being kicked around: pick up the tab for an entire restaurant, pay a single mom’s daycare tuition, pick someone who contributed and send them a really awesome Christmas present, leave $100 bills on shelves throughout a store, buy computers for an underfunded school, send someone who contributed on a dream vacation, mail out 2 $100 bills to random people and ask them to keep one and then document what they did to make someone else’s day with the other one…the possibilities are only limited by the amount of money collected.
Of course, I will document the entire experiment on this blog. I think if it takes off we could probably even rope someone into making a documentary about it. The key to the whole idea though is that a) you have to participate and b) you have to share the idea with everyone. The more people involved, the quicker the goal can be reached. I’m giving myself a year to reach the goal…and if I get beyond that? Even better. Imagine what we could do if there was two, three, or four million!
There Are a Few Disclaimers
All Reward Levels are conditional on reaching the goal of $1,000,000. No goal, no rewards. I do this to give everyone incentive for getting more people involved. Remember, this is so crazy, it just might work.
Payment of my debts does not include paying off my car loan or a mortgage (I live in an apartment, so no worries there). This debt is the result of poor planning when I was making a lot more than I am now. Consider it a reward for being crazy enough to try and pull this off.
I will continue to update Reward Levels and ideas of what to do with the money as time goes on. Suggestions are more than welcome on my GoFundMe page.
This is not about me getting rich! I know some will inevitably think that, but rest assured other than the expenses laid out, I don’t want the money and I’m going to do everything I can to get rid of it in the most fun ways possible!
I’m giving myself a year to complete it, but I’d love to see it done much faster. Imagine if we could hit the goal in a month!
If we don’t reach the goal, the money will still be spent according to the sequential steps, although no Reward Levels will be paid out.
I reserve the right to make changes to the basic rules of how this will play out. This does not include deciding to keep the money or spend it all on myself. I just need something to protect me in case I need to make adjustments.
image courtesy of Michael_Lehet