Go Fund Yourself – A modest proposal


from Federico Fellini’s “I Vitelloni”. Known in Italy as the “umbrella gesture”. 🙂

I recently expressed my typical subtle thoughts on how to create a buzz for yourself when it comes the outdoors.

In that article, the phenomenon known as GoFundMe was briefly discussed.

For those not familiar with GoFundMe, it is a form of crowdsourcing.

Crowdsourcing essentially means people out in Internet land donate money to your cause.

Some crowdsourcing platforms are for non-profits. Others are for tangible products that will be given and/or produced when a financial goal is met.

Money for services (be it creative endeavors or something tangible such as a book or documentary) is not what I am talking about.

GoFundMe is different. It is crowdsourcing for straight-up financial donations with no promises of a tangible product produced or delivered for the person making the donation. (Though it can be for producing goods; just less common versus something such as Kickstarter).  Donating at its most altruistic intent. No-bake sale needed! 🙂

In the ideal world, GoFundMe is a platform that is the modern equivalent of passing around a hat. A way to give a helping hand to people who suffered a tragedy, have expensive medical bills or another one of the many bumps that happen in life. All people need a helping hand at some point in their lives. And it is nice to help a community member in times of trouble.


I was going to post a hat photo, but here’s a cool photo of my dad instead helping out with Toys for Tots.  He is spending most of his free time since he retired doing charity work. He regularly volunteers in the community soup kitchen for example. He’s the short, bald guy on the right. Subtract-not- quite 25 yrs and that could describe me, too…

But it seems GoFundMe (GFM) is more to fund people’s vacations.  GFM is often straight-up panhandling.

The “inspiration” from this post came from a recent post on a forum for The Colorado Trail…

Ever since I found out about the [Colorado] trail I’ve wanted to backpack it.The trip lasts about 5 weeks and is best completed in late summer. I will be joined by family and friends along the way. Although backpacking is one of the cheapest ways to experience travel, it still has its expenses. I have most of the gear I need, but I still require better hiking boots, rain gear, food and a jacket for my dog, a sleeping pad, dehydrated meals, camp stove fuel, and more. On my entry level income alone, this trip would not be feasible. I would be grateful for any help you can give so that I can achieve this empowering goal and live life to the fullest!

I’ll leave the part alone about if it is wise to take on a 500-mile walk if you don’t even have basic gear for your pet…. Or that if a person needs basic gear and food, they may not be the most experienced outdoors person. They might want to get in a weekend backpacking trip or two before tackling a 500-mile walk…

Instead, I’ll just mention when I did Vermont’s Long Trail, I was working as an orderly at a hospital. Ditto for the Appalachian Trail. And then I moved to Colorado.

I empowered myself by the novel concept of saving money and buying gear. And then getting out to make sure I was at least somewhat prepared for a longer walk.

And while I have my own dreams about living life to the fullest, it does not really involve people donating money to me so I may go on vacation.

Still, at least these GFMs to fund vacations are honest begging.

Better than the “charity hikes” where only part of the funds raised actually goes to the charity. Most of the funds raised really went to the vacation….


Pictured, more honest begging. I’d give a  photo credit, but the site I stole the photo from is a “content aggregation site” …which means they just steal without credit anyway.

People, no doubt more intelligent than me, like to argue that it is all part of market capitalism. That the GFM campaigns will fail if people don’t want to donate. And that people gain something from donating to other’s vacations.


But let’s just call it what it is: Panhandling.

And please don’t panhandle among your fellow hikers and within the community itself. It gets tiring.

Ask your friends, family, extended social circle or even co-workers instead of vacation funds if you want to panhandle. See what happens.

Or, better yet, be patient, delay your trip a bit, save money and then go on your vacation.

I assure you, you’ll feel empowered.

Or, at the very least, get to the top of a peak…

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8 years ago

Thank you! My reaction, too, to the CT request. 🙂

Andrew Skurka
Andrew Skurka
8 years ago

+ 1

Jen @ Sprinkles Hikes
8 years ago

Yes, yes, yes! Great and well-written. I’ll be sharing this.

8 years ago

Amen brother!

Clay Bonnyman Evans
8 years ago

Ya ol’ goddamn crankster.

I agree, making me one too, I guess….

8 years ago

For me, it comes down to who is asking and why. You need to put your own skin in the game before you ask for help of others. Said that, if someone has worked very hard and needs a bit of help to fulfill the dream of a thru-hike – and I know them and their character – I would (and have) helped. But I am wary based on experience. It infuriates me to watch hikers play poor when it comes to donations to trail angels, for example, when they always seem to have enough money to grab a room,… Read more »

8 years ago

I personally agree about begging for money to go on a trip and I would never do it. However, I have mixed feelings about it overall. If someone is skilled enough to have a trip funded good on them. I just don’t want to be constantly solicited to help fund someone else.

Carter Owens
Carter Owens
8 years ago

Whole heartedly agree. Several of my peers have used this as a means to traveling abroad, and it seems dirty. Working and saving is part of the experience.

3 years ago

So true, and if GFM does not work one can also just hike and request shelter, food, etc., along the route via FB. That also appears successful. Crazy 🙂