Sam Van Schie: Online voting latest fundraising trend

I’ve been feeling some voter fatigue lately, and it’s not the fault of any government elections.
It’s daily voting online that has me exhausted.

I’ve been feeling some voter fatigue lately, and it’s not the fault of any government elections.

It’s daily voting online that has me exhausted.

Lately it seems everyone wants me to scan a QR code or click a URL to help them win something. It’s hard not to take a few seconds to vote for the local band trying to boost their music career with a win in the Peak Performance Project, or pass up my duty to vote for a friend’s entry in a photo or video contest.

Many of these competitions ask you to come back and vote every day during a set period of time and sometimes there’s a big chunk of money on the line.

Take the Aviva Insurance sponsorship challenge, for example. For the past three years the company has put up $1 million in prize money to be split between the four most popular community projects. Right now more than 1,000 individuals and groups across Canada are pleading for votes through their online networks.

Among them is the family of murdered Langford teen Kimberly Proctor, who would use the funding to get Kids in the Know safety education added to the curriculum of high-risk B.C. schools (Idea No. 11490), and the Tsartlip First Nation in Brentwood Bay, which would put it towards building a recreation club on their reserve (Idea No. 11910).

I’ve also been voting for Aviva to fund a skatepark in Nelson, B.C. and a youth climate change conference in Ottawa.

And Aviva is not the only private company running this type of contest. This fall West Shore Parks and Recreation tried to win $100,000 for an accessible playground by getting votes on a Facebook page set up by meat company Schneiders.

I don’t blame groups for looking for new funding sources. There’s never enough public funding to go around, and applying for grants can be a frustrating process.

It often seems unfair when governments award funding to one infrastructure project over another – such as when the feds made the McTavish Road interchange a stimulus project, but ignored fixing the traffic snarl on the Trans-Canada Highway at McKenzie Avenue. Or that the shrinking student population at Oak Bay High receives a new school ahead of Belmont High, which is bursting at the seams on the booming West Shore.

Government watchdogs are always calling for more transparency in the decision-making process and are quick to call foul when, all too often, it appears funding has gone unfairly into a cabinet minister’s riding.

At the very least, online vote contests offer an alternative to politically driven funding decisions. Some might even call it direct democracy, making decisions by open vote.

(Though the businesses sponsoring the challenges probably just call it cheap publicity, since the charitable donations they make can be written off on their taxes.)

Whatever you call it, the money can do a lot of good for a community and this compels me to keep voting for the projects I want to see happen.

But I’m glad at a government level there’s somebody else reading applications and choosing whom to write a cheque to – as unfair as it might seem at the time. It’s got to be tough to know funding one thing means denying many other worthy projects.

The number of entrants competing for money online shows just how many great ideas are on the table. Each of them comes from people trying to make their communities better.

I hope my votes, even if they don’t result in a funding win, let the organizers know they have people who want to see them succeed.

Sam Van Schie is a reporter with the Goldstream News Gazette.

news@goldstreamgazette.com

Just Posted

Victoria woman accesses healing Burn Fund resources 45 years after injury

Stasi Manser was burned when she was five years old and now works as an adult burn survivor advocate

PRIDE on the Barge caps off last Friday of Pride Month

Starting at 5 p.m. with music from Rocksteady

Local grocery store steps up to help resident after Saanich jams her stand

Pepper’s Foods will start selling jams previously sold through roadside stand

Brentwood Bay fruit stand plundered on first day of season

Leeanne and Jack Guthrie dismayed to find money and fruit stolen from roadside stand

Last remaining Victoria Legion faces $100,000 property tax bill

The Trafalgar/ Pro Patria Branch can’t afford to operate with such high taxes

VIDEO: Killer whale steals fisherman’s catch off North Coast

Fishing duel results in eager orca snagging salmon in Prince Rupert

POLL: Do you think the penalty should be increased for tossing a burning cigarette from a vehicle?

With grasslands and forests around Vancouver Island and across B.C. reaching tinder… Continue reading

Greater Victoria wanted list for the week of June 25

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

Fate of accused in Canadian couple’s 1987 killings in jury’s hands

William Talbot’s lawyer says DNA doesn’t prove murder

PHOTOS: North Island home gutted in fire deemed ‘suspicious’

No injuries reported; firefighters prevented blaze from spreading

Child killed after being hit in driveway on Vancouver Island

The driver of the vehicle remained at the crash scene and is fully cooperating

Eating sandwiches, putting on makeup behind the wheel could land you a fine

RCMP say if you cause an accident while eating you could be penalized

Delta cat severely injured in animal trap was likely stuck for days, owner says

Blu, a three-year-old house cat, suffered severe damage to his hind leg after being stuck in trap for days

Vancouver Island woman assaulted after confronting thief

RCMP warn residents to call for police assistance

Most Read