Can Crowdfunding Absolve Greece’s Debt?

Audrey White

It may be the most ambitious crowdfunding campaign in history: Briton Thom Feeney, age 29, launched a campaign to raise €1.6 billion (£1.1 billion) to help the nation of Greece make its impending debt payment. In five days, the campaign has surpassed €1.5 million with nearly 90,000 donors.

Of course, it seems likely that the campaign will fall far short of the campaign goal, so all those prospective donors will keep their money. Still, their enthusiasm to help the nation in exchange for rewards like a postcard or, for major donors, a trip to Athens, demonstrates the faith many people have in crowdfunding as a viable model of distributing capital.

Feeney has assured the public the campaign is serious, though it sprung up from a simple Sunday-night musing.

“I set up the crowdfunding campaign to support the Greek bailout because I was fed up with the dithering of our politicians,” Feeney said. “I wondered, could the people of Europe just have a crack at fixing this? Less talk, more direct action.”

After the massive public response — the average donation amount was €17.29 — Feeney said he thinks its success is merely “improbable,” rather than impossible. It has certainly generated some sincere public interest in Greece’s economic fate, which looks grim. The country’s overall debt stands at €340 billion, and the International Monetary Fund rates Greece’s economic growth at zero.

At this point, crowdfunding doesn’t stand much chance to solve major economic crises. But, as people embrace it to address bigger and bigger goals and problems, we’ll be able to understand its true potential.