Thank you from the bottom of my heart, no really
November 17, 2020 12:27 AM   Subscribe

So I started a gofundme for my family and I last weekend. I didn't expect it to blow up but we just got many thousand dollars. This is a life changing amount of money to me. I'm trying to figure out a few things as this plays out and could use advice.

1. How do I process this?? I am very happy but also very overwhelmed. My family member that will benefit from this is also feeling similarly, I think. We're not poor but we're very middle class and never have been given this kind of money. We might have well won the lottery.

I tend to get overwhelmed by big emotions and what ifs so this is stressful. Thankfully I have an appointment with my therapist next week so that might help

2. How do we coordinate the logistics of decluttering and packing up an apartment we've been in for 25 years??? We have a lot of clutter and stuff. I am also overwhelmed by this. I think we're going to have 2 weeks max to pack. My mom works from home during the day but I'm free. I'm suspecting that my grandparents will probably come help us.

My strategy that I've come up with so far is to take lots of small breaks and to keep things organized. The weird part of this is technically we can't pack yet because we haven't found an apartment. But I'm guessing we should anyway? Our lease is up in December.

3. How do I thank people enough for their help? I don't want to be over the top but I'm not sure how to convey how immensely grateful I am for the money. Especially towards the people that donated a lot of money. Like $1000. I want to do something nice for them but don't want to make them feel uncomfortable. I can only assume if some can donate that kind of money, it might not be a lot to them in the grand scheme of things.

I've been thanking people individually. For the people that helped out a lot, I was thinking about at least writing a personalized heartfelt message. I make art so I might also ask if they would want something. But that seems kind of a weird form of bribery.

For the larger groups of people that donated, I was thinking about doing a giveaway of stuff I've made. in the less monetary sense, I am planning on posting periodic updates on stuff like showing out new apartment. I spread the word exclusively on social media so that's how I'd share it. Or maybe a video thank you message from me and my mom.

What would make you feel the warm and fuzzies if you donated? I've been posting updates because I don't want people e to think I'm a scammer and just pocketing the money.

This whole thing is very new and weird, so thanks for listening.
posted by starlybri to Human Relations (15 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
You asked for the money for a reason, post updates in the go fund me that directly respond to that issue (only). People who want to know have subscribed for updates. A message on your social media saying thank you for helping and thank you for spreading the word and perhaps letting them know you are ok now.
posted by J.R. Hartley at 12:36 AM on November 17 [24 favorites]

Personally, I love knowing that the money has made a real impact on the person who received it and that they achieved whatever goal was intended with it. If the cash was to help you get back on your feet and into a new home, post an update with pictures of the new place with you enjoying it! That would be the best thank you. And congratulations!
posted by Jubey at 12:56 AM on November 17 [11 favorites]

Presumably you started the gofundme for a specific reason some of this might be inapplicable or redundant. Make a plan for what you will do with the money. I mean more specifically make sure it's somewhere that you can access it for what you need it for, and can't be accidentally spent on other things. If you have more than you need, think about what to do with the excess but mainly don't make any concrete decisions immediately. Some people recommend that if you get a windfall you blow a tiny amount on something frivolous - like 0.5% - as a psychological trick to stop you blowing a larger amount.

Heartfelt thanks is good, and people appreciate that, particularly when they can see that what they believe they funded has indeed happened. This does (and should) mean more to you than it does to any individual who donated, so there's no need to go overboard on wider things, particularly if it makes it transactional. Maybe have a look at what others have done in similar situations and how that has been received?

Otherwise, when you're in a better place, pay it forward.
posted by plonkee at 1:08 AM on November 17 [1 favorite]

> Freuchen tells how one day, after coming home hungry from an unsuccessful walrus-hunting expedition, he found one of the successful hunters dropping off several hundred pounds of meat. He thanked him profusely. The man objected indignantly:

> > "Up in our country we are human!" said the hunter. "And since we are human we help each other. We don't like to hear anybody say thanks for that. What I get today you may get tomorrow. Up here we say that by gifts one makes slaves and by whips one makes dogs.

> [...] The refusal to calculate credits and debits can be found throughout the anthropological literature on egalitarian hunting societies. Rather than seeing himself as human because he could make economic calculations, the hunter insisted that being truly human meant refusing to make such calculations, refusing to measure or remember who had given what to whom, for the precise reason that doing so would inevitably create a world where we began "comparing power with power, measuring, calculating" and reducing each other to slaves or dogs through debt.

-- David Graeber, Debt: The First 5,000 Years
posted by are-coral-made at 1:11 AM on November 17 [40 favorites]

I would want to read something like this post, and feel good about the world and reassured that it helped someone. I wouldn't really want anything effusive that was directed at me in particular. (source: I've been donating a bunch to mutual aid this year, and I feel kinda weird whenever folks thank me personally. Like, we're all in this together!)
posted by 168 at 4:53 AM on November 17 [8 favorites]

As someone who occasionally donates small amounts to GoFundMes like yours, what makes me happiest is to see an update on the GoFundMe page, letting everyone know how appreciated the money was, that it was sufficient to ease whatever issue they were facing, and (if applicable) that they have successfully navigated the hurdle.

Maybe with pictures or video, but only if you feel comfortable and happy sharing those -- no obligation at all.

If you do decide to individually thank large donors, limit it to words of thanks, nothing material.
posted by mekily at 6:39 AM on November 17 [7 favorites]

Just re: the moving apartments part of the question - packing and decluttering paid services are one of those things that are available at any level you need them at if you shop around, and that richer people would not think twice about using. See what you can do on your own, but if you can buy $500 worth of help with moving it might be money extremely well spent. Two weeks is not a lot of time to prep for a move if you haven't moved in 25 years, unless you devote hours to it every day and you have a plan of attack and you are ruthless about getting rid of things. I would do two things to make progress today and feel like you can get it under control:

1) call several moving and packing companies in your area, get quotes. you probably don't want a full service job where they pack and move every last dish because that can run into thousands of dollars, so get an hourly rate for help, but also get their idea of how much time it would take for a full service job so you know what you are in for if you do mostly DIY. three hours of professional time can be worth what would take you most of a day on your own because they are so much more efficient
2) fill three trash bags full of stuff you can throw away or donate or post on craigslist, and keep doing this every day until you feel like you are only left with things to keep. everything you get rid of is something you don't have to pack which saves time/money, so do it aggressively now
posted by slow graffiti at 7:49 AM on November 17 [6 favorites]

I once contributed a sizeable amount of money to a family that was struggling. A few days later the family contacted me and asked me what fandoms I like and told me that they were going to make a little knitted critter for me as thanks. About four years have gone by and I have never seen the little knitted critter.

Whatever you do, don't make a plan to thank, notify the recipients to expect it and then don't follow through. I understand that the cares of the world were bigger than they could handle and that they struggle with more than they can handle in life, but now I remember them as the people who owe me the little knitted critter, and they probably remember me with shame and guilt.

There is an old saying, "Give to a child, but promise him nothing." It is so easy to give other people expectations that turn out to be something you can't meet. Often when you do come through people have a different expectation of the thing they get. One person will complain because it came later than they expected, another because it wasn't as they pictured it and a third because they expected comparative value to the donation they made.

Show how very effective the donations were with information on how much they helped - pictures of before and after on the move, warm personal e-mails that chatter about how good things are, but save formal thank you gestures as a surprise and don't describe them as thanks, but as a gesture of love.
posted by Jane the Brown at 8:02 AM on November 17 [12 favorites]

3. How do I thank people enough for their help? I don't want to be over the top but I'm not sure how to convey how immensely grateful I am for the money.

A heartfelt thank you is perfect. If at some point you can make something personal and give it to them, that's fine, but really... just saying thank you and acknowledging it once should be fine - at least that would be sufficient for me if I were in the position of the giver.

It may or may not be a lot to them in the grand scheme of things. My youngest brother is very generous to people he cares about and it wouldn't surprise me at all for him to donate a large sum to a close friend even though he is not by any stretch well off. For other people, it may not be a lot of money, but there's not a definite connection between how much money one has and how much one chooses to give. (Some studies show that people with more money are likely to give less... which might be how they accumulate that kind of money in the first place...)
posted by jzb at 8:15 AM on November 17 [1 favorite]

Not a direct answer to your question but something important. Gofundme issues 1099s to people who receive money from their platform. You may have to pay taxes on this money as income. Please plan accordingly.
posted by entropyiswinning at 8:31 AM on November 17 [1 favorite]

don't do or give them anything other than heartfelt thanks and updates on the gifts being put to good use. That's all donors want: to be appreciated and to know that the gift is effective.

(source: I give a lot of charity, both personal and to "causes." I get seriously irritated when I get little Christmas ornaments or whatever from charities. And I get very happy when I see an update explaining that X action was achieved.)

re not being able to pack yet: you got excellent advice above about now being the time to PURGE, not pack. You should only take with you things that are important; and those are the things you can't pack up yet. But you absolutely can and should use this time to get rid of everything that isn't coming with you. That way your actual packing and unpacking can be easy and smooth and you won't be struggling with where to "store" unneeded stuff as the unneeded stuff will be gone.

Good luck, it's awesome that your friends have come through this way.
posted by fingersandtoes at 8:36 AM on November 17 [1 favorite]

2. How do we coordinate the logistics of decluttering and packing up an apartment we've been in for 25 years??? We have a lot of clutter and stuff. I am also overwhelmed by this. I think we're going to have 2 weeks max to pack. My mom works from home during the day but I'm free. I'm suspecting that my grandparents will probably come help us.

If you now have the means, then a good use of this money it to hire a professional organizer. It's probably something you'd never spend money on otherwise, but this is the perfect time to do it. You received this money to make your life easier and better. The best gift you can give your benefactors is to use the money in the way it was intended. Spend a little extra time now to find someone who can really help you get the packing and purging done.

I think the video update maybe after you've moved, or with some before and after would be a great give to your donors. They don't need material things.

PS: Congratulations on a successful GoFundMe! I'm happy for you!
posted by hydra77 at 8:45 AM on November 17

Periodic milestone updates are appropriate. Obviously be grateful but you don't have to go on and on about it after your first big thank-you post.

In my perfect world when I have time like you do at this point, I clean the entire place first - a deep hardcore clean with an eye to culling anything I do not want to pack and move. That way when you're done cleaning you will have a very clear idea of how much stuff needs to be packed, and it's all been dusted, polished, laundered, repaired etc. Don't pay good money to move trash.

Once you've cleaned, you should be able to identify the stuff you can pack right away (books, holiday decorations, off-season clothes/shoes/equipment, non-essential kitchen items, etc). It can be hard knowing where to start, and something has to go first, so that's a good way to make a list of what you can live without for a month or so.

Note: "GoFundMe will not report your donations as income at the end of the year, or issue any tax documents." You will NOT receive a 1099 or any other tax document, but that doesn't mean you definitely have no tax obligations, it is on you to figure that out.
posted by Lyn Never at 9:02 AM on November 17

Please don't give yourself a new job of sending thank-you gifts, you have enough to do! People gave you money because they felt like it and because they understand that it's easier to get through difficult situations when you have some cash to throw at it. They don't want an accounting report to justify how you're spending the money, they just want to hear that it helped!
posted by desuetude at 9:55 AM on November 17 [1 favorite]

Yeah, don't burden yourself with something that will take a lot of time and energy to do, which is to say, to say thanks to so many people individually. Share the same updates on the platform with everyone. Focus right now on what you need to do to make happen these most pressing priorities. In a few months, if life is more settled, and you want to go back and write longer notes to folks, then great. But don't feel obligated or guilty as if you owe them. It's really okay to accept this money, say thanks, and then go back to focusing on yourself.
posted by bluedaisy at 10:50 AM on November 17 [1 favorite]

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