Medical Fundraisers (and PayPal)

I have finally found the time to go and donate to Jay Lake’s medical fundraiser. I’m sure that most of you have heard about this via other people’s blogs and social media, and the thing met its base target in record time, but Jay has been a good friend for many years and tried hard to help me with my US immigration problems, so I want to do more for him. I wish I had sufficient following to make it worth my offering to do something silly. (But hey, I got The Guardian to mention my vagina in an article, isn’t that enough?)

As you have probably also heard, Jay ran into trouble with PayPal. This shouldn’t surprise anyone. Their “guilty until proved innocent” approach to anyone who suddenly has large sums of money go through their account has been well documented by many people. Thankfully Jay has friends in high places and it was all resolved fairly quickly. Jay tells the story here.

PayPal claims that they are going to try to do better in future, but frankly I don’t believe them. They have messed me about so badly that I no longer have any faith in them. The only reason I haven’t yet added Google Checkout to the bookstore is that I have had more important stuff to do. My personal account is fairly useless. They put a block on my adding funds from my US bank account and set conditions for lifting it that were almost impossible to meet. After I emptied it of most of the money in it they wrote and said they were restoring my account to good standing, except that they didn’t remove the block on adding funds, they just removed the issue flag on my account, so now I still can’t add funds and I have no way to address the issue because according to PayPal there is no issue. Hopeless.

Jay is well aware that he’s been fortunate here. He has a loyal fan base and good friends. But he notes:

Yet I cannot help wondering how this would have gone without my own social media footprint and widespread network of friends and fans. Would I be looking at weeks of paperwork and a continually frozen account, as my friend has experienced?

Yes Jay, you probably would.

To his great credit, Jay also adds:

The same question applies to the fundraisers themselves. Would the Acts of Whimsy fundraiser be closing in on 200% of goal if I were just some guy down the street with cancer?

He’s right. Not everyone has the pull to do this stuff. Today I dragged a young friend of mine along to the BristolCon committee meeting, in part because he’s trying to raise funds for some surgery. Nathan doesn’t have a life-threatening problem like Jay, but his surgery will be life-changing. He does nice anime-style art, and he’s offering to do drawings for people in return for donations. You can see some of the work he’s done already on the fundraiser’s Facebook page. If you are looking for some nice art for a fanzine or some such, please consider commissioning something from him. He’s not asking much per picture.