As widespread civil rights protests gripped the nation earlier this month, prominent social media personalities needed a way to support the cause from the comfort of their homes. For a lot of them, tweeting links to various donation pages scratched that itch.
Inevitably, the social media outpouring led to millions of dollars in donations to 501(c)(3) social welfare groups, especially so-called bail funds. Bail funds have traditionally been an effective way to prevent low-income individuals from suffering undue hardship during pre-trial detention for some alleged offense. In the context of the protests, the idea was that no one should suffer financially for taking a stand against police brutality and racism.
The social media led donation campaign was so effective that the New York Times reported more than $90 million had been raised for various organizations working in the social justice space, including the Minneapolis Freedom Fund, which said today it had raised more than $30 million. According to organizers, just $200,000 of the total money raised by MFF went to bailing out protesters. MFF organizers explained on Twitter that they've bailed out every peaceful protester they can and they're trying to figure out what to do with the remaining millions, but that hasn't stopped people from asking questions and speculating about what's going to happen to the left over money.
Now, I'm sure there's nothing nefarious going on here. You've got a group of people running a little non-profit that suddenly got crushed with donations and needs some time to scale up. They've only distributed $200,000 because that's what the bail cost for protesters. They can't pay bail where it does not exist. MFF did eventually direct people to stop giving them money and sent inquiries to other non-profits which are also now facing similar dilemmas. There's no indication that anyone has done anything wrong or criminal with the huge sums of money raised throughout this national crisis. However...
Can we all just agree that it's okay to be a little cautious, a little skeptical even, about the kind of groupthink that sends $30 million to a $200,000 problem? Can we agree that it's okay to ask whether tweeting out that donation link was more about making the tweeter feel good than actually helping other people? Because when Kirk Minihane raised precisely those points weeks ago, at least one of his fellow Barstool podcasters suggested he was "on the wrong side of history" and a racist.
Minihane addresses the bail fund situation today at the start of his podcast.