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The Desmos grantees.

Tackling Unemployment Through Crowdfunding

A few less unemployed, thousands more to benefit: a crowdfunding story

According to the Hellenic Statistical Authority, in 2016, 23.5% of the population that should constitute the Greek work force were unemployed. To provide another perspective on these numbers, 1.016.571 people were actively seeking for a job in Greece in the second quarter of 2017.

Since July 2017 though, 11 young people before their 30’s have stopped counting themselves in those statistics — at least for one year. An organisation named Desmos launched the program “Desmos for youth” for the second consecutive time, and in doing so has managed to fund 11 work positions in NGOs and organisations with social impact.

Thom Feeney and Marina Sotiriou.

A grandiose –and actually successful- campaign

One evening of 2015, Thom Feeney “sat on the table after dinner” with an idea in his head. “This was in the end of June 2015 and there was always lots of news about Greece”, Feeney told AthensLive. He mulled over alternative ways with which Greece could repay its debt.

“I thought the amount of money wasn’t actually that big, if you broke it down into small chunks” Thom Feeney adds. What if, he thought, Greece’s debt was a Greek salad that everyone in Europe would have for lunch the next day and pay around 3 euros? “So, I started a crowdfund campaign, but I never expected just quite how crazy it would go”.

People from all over the world, specifically from 180 countries, donated to the cause. The campaign did not quite reach the originally stated target of 1.6 billion euro, but it did manage to gather approximately 2 million euro. “I worked 18 hours a day, getting 5 hours of sleep. And every day more and more people got in touch to ask how they could help”, Feeney says.

“There was one point when somebody tweeted that the amount of money was going up so fast during the past two hours, and that we would actually hit this 1.6 billion target” he recalls and continues: “Which was terrifying, but I always kept a hope that something crazy might happen and that week was so out of the ordinary that I thought everything was possible. It would have been quite something if we had hit the target”, he says.

Since the ambitious initial target was never reached, donations had to be returned to the contributors but that did not stop Feeney from starting a second, more flexible crowdfunding campaign, soon after.

The amount of nearly 300.000 euro was then raised, and Feeney collaborated with Desmos to funnel the money into tackling unemployment in Greece. “Working with Desmos was just amazing”, he explains. “They did so much to fund all these great charities in Greece. And having met all the people that worked in the projects afterwards, (I can say that) they had such an impact in Greek society!”

Organisations are helped to help back

In 2016, Desmos funded 15 full-time work positions in respective organisations with social impact, for a whole year, with Feeney’s help. According to Desmos, around 50.000 people indirectly benefited from the organisations that were part of their “Desmos for Youth” project. This is why the team tried to ensure continuation of funding for this project.

Since July 2017, 11 organizations operating in Greece have one of their employees fully financed by Desmos, in terms of salary and benefits. The missions of these 11 organizations vary between environmental causes, programs of social inclusion for vulnerable groups and care for people with disabilities, to scientific purposes and young entrepreneurship. AthensLive has also had the privilege to be part of the project “Desmos for youth”.

While the economic situation in Greece has clearly affected journalists, newsrooms across the globe have also had to deal with sustainability issues. Let alone, small, independent media that have rejected traditional ways of funding — such as advertising — and pursue the production of content free of any kind of interference. Thanks to Desmos, AthensLive will manage to extend its work further and will continue to present underreported stories of social, political, and environmental interest from Greece, for its international readers.

From people to people

Combating a country’s unemployment with charities is not how things should be done. Under crisis circumstances though, it is a valuable help –provided that it won’t end up as a norm, something that is considered to be natural in the framework of a social state.

However, as Thom Feeney pointed out, the significance of this project lies upon people’s willingness to help others. “At that time, it was very much about the politicians, and what the politicians would do next, and this and that… So, I thought while the politicians are talking to each other, there is real people that don’t know what is happening, and they don’t know whether they will be able to get their money out from the bank, or they don’t know how they can afford to live”, he adds. It was then that Thom Feeney decided to use the power of the crowd, and the rest is history.

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AthensLive News

AthensLive News


Your independent on-the-ground source for stories, news, and images from Athens and throughout Greece. In English. / /