Crowdfunding craze relies on psychological impulses

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(WHNT)  – Jennifer Stocum takes on a short tour of one corner of Billy Hunter Park in Hazel Green. She wants to build a handicap accessible playground.

She has meetings scheduled with all kinds of movers and shakers to get the thing going, but she also started a gofundme page.

She got the idea from a donation she made, “I have a friend with really bad health issues, and she needed to go to Boston to get some medical treatment. And they had started a gofundme account for her.”

When it comes to the park, online fundraising lets organizers get the jump without depending on government intervention.

But these websites have attracted tons of causes – from sending folks to college to buying kids toys.

They work – because of science.

Clinical Psychologist Dr. Roger Rinn explains, “Modern research in psychology has shown that when you give, when you are generous to someone else, there is an enormous amount of brain activity in the part of the brain that’s reinforcing – the nucleus accumbens, where you remember pleasure and good things.”

From the psychological perpsective, it just makes sense for people behind causes like a would-be playground to appeal directly to donors.

Rinn adds, “Certainly Americans are very entrepreneurial. We like being responsible for our own behavior. I think that just enhances it, because we can go ask for money. It allows us to get the money easily.”

Part of the appeal of these sites is just to give people the sense that they’re a part of something bigger.

“They can say I helped that guy get to where he is,” muses Rinn, “That’s reinforcing.”

A few weeks ago, a guy made a kickstarter to make a potato salad. He asked for ten bucks. He got fifty-five thousand.

It works because for a small fee, people could get in on the joke. They can do the same with a cause.

Either way, you can see why there’s a lot of optimism for people who appeal to the internet for the backing they need – like the mom, determined to build her playground.

For her part, Stocum believes she’ll reach her goal.

She says simply, “Oh, it’s going to happen.”

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