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A UK Shoe Shop Employee Crowdfunds More Than a Million Euros to Bail Out Greece (​​UPDATED)

Screenshot of the Indiegogo campaign page for "Greek Bailout Fund."

Screenshot of the Indiegogo campaign page for “Greek Bailout Fund.”

Last updated at 10:50 a.m. GMT, July 4. The campaign has since ended, falling short of its goal.

Tens of thousands are opening their wallets in response to an Indiegogo campaign seeking to raise 1.6 billion euros (about 1.8 billion US dollars) for cash-strapped Greece.

In six days, more than 99,000 people from across the world have donated 1.7 million euros and counting to the “Greek Bailout Fund.” The campaign page was down for hours late Tuesday “due to its astonishing popularity,” according to Indiegogo, but is now working again.

As is the norm with crowdfunding campaigns, the organizers are offering rewards to the funders depending on the amount given. Most funders have given 3 euros (which gets them a postcard of Greek Prime Minister Alex Tsipras), 6 euros (a Greek feta and olive salad), 10 euros (a bottle of Ouzo) or 25 euros (a bottle of Greek wine). Five generous funders have pledged 5,000 (a Greek holiday for two).

Debt-wracked Greece received two bailout packages in 2010 and 2011 from the so-called troika—the International Monetary Fund, the European Central Bank and the European Commission—and has limped along ever since under the austerity measures the packages required. The country was due to repay 1.6 billion euros to the IMF, but missed the deadline and is now in arrears.

The Greek government and its creditors have been at odds for months over extending the bailout program. Prime Minister Tsipras has called for a referendum on July 5 to decide whether to accept the tax hikes and pension cuts it would impose, conditions he has said “clearly violate the European rules and the basic rights to work, equality and dignity.”

Meanwhile, a quarter of the population is unemployed, and the number of Greeks at risk of poverty has risen. “[T]his is affecting real people,” Thom Feeney, who launched the crowdfunded effort, writes on the campaign page. The 29-year-old shoe shop employee from the UK estimates that if every European gave just over 3 euros, the fund could cover Greece's debt:

All this dithering over Greece is getting boring. European ministers flexing their muscles and posturing over whether they can help the Greek people or not. Why don't we the people just sort it instead?

The European Union is home to 503 million people, if we all just chip in a few Euro then we can get Greece sorted and hopefully get them back on track soon. Easy.

The number of donations to the campaign, which has made headlines around the world, sharply spiked Tuesday, and money continued to pour in Wednesday.

While it's impressive that the campaign has raised so much in so little time, it has a long way to go in the three days it has left. The 1,749,448 euros raised as of writing is less than 1 percent of the 1.6 billion goal. But as Vulpine Capital, a private investment firm based in New York, tweeted, “If top 25% of EU & US households each gave $25 this would be funded.”

Under Indiegogo's “Fixed Funding” rule, Feeney's campaign will only be funded if it reaches that lofty goal, but some participants are asking if the money could be used for Greece regardless. Hellmut Blumenthal from Germany commented:

That felt much better than shaking my head over all the heartless comments on the web. Thanks for the idea, Thom, and let’s keep our fingers crossed …

Oh, and I agree with recent posts: the money should go to Greece no matter what.

While Arwen Curley-Panteleakis wrote:

This is incredible! Thanks so much to Thom Feeney and all you wonderful people from all over the world!!!

Big Big Hugs and Kisses From Greece!

Follow discussion of the campaign on Twitter under the hashtag #crowdfundgreece.

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