NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — ‘Tis the season for giving, with all kinds of groups, charities and individuals looking for donations for the holidays. Now, social media has turned fundraising into digital begging.
Jovan Hill live streams videos from his Brooklyn apartment for up to two hours a day, every day, to his over 95,000 Twitter followers.
“I go live and just talk about my day and a lot of times I talk about nothing,” he said.
This time last year, the 25-year-old was posting for a more modest amount of followers between his shifts at a movie theater.
“I got sick of selling popcorn, but they wanted me to keep tweeting and go live,” Hill said. “I was like ‘guys, if you want to use me as entertainment I need to get paid’.”
So he quit his day job and started paying his rent with online donations. Before long, he says he was making double what he made punching tickets.
“I’m very up front,” he said. “I spend money on cell phone games and I will say ‘anyone wanna send me $18 bucks for this cell phone game?’.”
Hill’s becoming less of an outlier. On GoFundMe, you can find fundraisers for TVs and trips next to ones for disaster relief. Hill says he makes around $200 a day.
“They’re paying for me to live so I can entertain them,” he said.
So what makes fundraisers like Hill’s more successful than a traditional charity, or even a man with a sign on the side of a street? NYU Professor of Philanthropy Michael Evers says while social media connects us, it’s also changing who we help.
“People feeling affiliations with a large group of people than ever before,” he said. “I think we’re hardwired to want to help people who are more like us.”
It’s why Hill believes his followers continue to donate.
“I interact with them, talk to them,” he said. “They know more about me than most of my friends do, really.”
Professor Evers also says Americans are consistently donating more money overall, in recent years.