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Returning the Favor: Micro-Crowdfunding Our Loved Ones

By joining together in micro-groups we can create recurring funding to support and enhance the lives of our 50+ loved ones.

Photo of Lateef

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Who is your idea designed for and how does it support the dreams and obligations of those 50 and older?

Many 50+ people simply don't have the funds needed to get by in a "decent" manner - you find them being miserly, conserving where they shouldn't be (food, medical care) and without things they deserve (good clothing, expendable income, ability to move freely/travel). These obligations and dreams often are one in the same.

Thise 50+ view the world differently than the younger population - an apparent truth. But, the 50+ demographic itself is far from homogenous. One of the key differences that separate the obligations and dreams of these people is their  financial standing, their degree of financial freedom. For those elderly who have limited finances, there is always a trade-off between haves and have-nots -- and perhaps this is one of those few areas where a relatively larger percentage of those over 50 tend to align: the stark realization that they must provide for themselves.

Indeed, many aging people are concerned that they will become a financial burden on their loved ones - so they become extremely fiscally conservative. By rationalizing that it's more important to pay for rent than for medical care, they increase the risk of more serious ailments. By having to pay for a recurring medical treatment, medicine, or healthcare product they forego their desire to give gifts to grandkids and travel to play with them. Forget about aspirational dreams and bucket lists - those are now forever out of reach.

I argue that these dreams are not out of reach, a reasonable level of financial freedom is possible, and the elderly can afford obligatory expenses. In many cases the only thing that stands in the way of this becoming a reality is that the financial burden to make these things possible tends to fall entirely on very few people - in many cases one child or friend, who may also be over 50.

In these cases, the combination of small financial contributions can become a larger, impactful contribution. When one child can dedicate $200 per month, a friend $20, a cousin $75, and a family friend $50 - that's $345 in additional income every month. By building an app that makes this easy and sets up recurring contributions, people are more likely to contribute and feel like they're making a difference. Over $4,000 per year. When you see how much Social Security pays out, this adds up to something meaningful. 

This money can also be routed to interest-bearing savings accounts. And, it would behoove the US Government to make these contributions tax deductible - if at least for the fact that these micro-funding programs can alleviate the stress on our social welfare system...that needs all the help it can get.

What early, lightweight experiment might you try out in your own community to find out if the idea will meet your expectations?

Stand up a lightweight app that leverages new money transfer tech (like Venmo or the alternative being built by a consortium of large financial institutions).

What skills, input or guidance from the OpenIDEO community would be most helpful in building out or refining your idea?

Mobile app developers to validate tech Researchers to conduct public intercept and web surveys

Tell us about your work experience:

I have completed graduate work in public policy. Human centered design thinker. Worked for a credit union member experience training provider. And, currently work in data and analytics for the public sector.

Please check all that apply:

  • I'm currently a member of a credit union
  • I work for a service provider of credit unions

This idea emerged from

  • An Individual


Join the conversation:

Photo of Kate Rushton

Hi Lateef!

Thank you for sharing your idea. 

What age range are you targeting? The 50+ is quite a broad range. 

Also, I just want to highlight another posted idea -

I thought you might be interested in the dashboard idea proposed. 

Photo of Lateef

Thanks, Kate! The concept here, simplified, is crowd-funding for a specific person that is common to the crowd. I have to stick w/ over 50 for the sake of our challenge but it's relevant to all ages. That said, I think it's important that these Challenges bring about solutions to complex problems by staying as tight to the initial framing of the challenge as possible. This concept seems to help our target audience with their finances, but it does not create a "financial service" more than it creates a financial opportunity.

Thus, from this idea I think there's something valuable in evaluating how public policy can be modified to incentivize giving and saving for a newly defined protected class of citizens, elderly people of low financial means.

Regarding the Group Savings Account - I think that's closer to a "financial service" and has the potential to become something bigger. For elderly people that put off saving for retirement there will be some opportunity in group savings, but with a relatively tighter window of opportunity (time to save, compared to younger audiences) I'm afraid a sizable initial investment is required to result in a substantial fund.

Photo of Lillian J Warner

Hi Lateef -- we would love to talk with you this week about our Incubator Club for Credit Union Members idea. If you are willing to answer a few questions, is there a good way to contact you (email/LinkedIn)? 

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