Memories Pizza Donations and Crowdfunding

As many of you know, the Religious Freedom and Restoration Act signed by Indiana Governor Mike Pence (R) has taken on quite a lot of attention in recent days. This story has erupted into a national argument over the controversy that this law “legalizes discrimination” on the basis of religious beliefs.

With that, an Indianapolis local grassroots campaign known as “Open for Service” has taken off and spread like wildfire. Businesses are encouraged to donate $10 to the fund and in return they will receive a sticker to put in their doors and windows to show that they welcome all customers regardless of race, religion, sexual orientation, or gender identity.

However, some businesses who claim to support the RFRA have taken a different approach. Memories Pizza of Walkerton, IN recently took headlines for standing up for their own beliefs and declaring that “if a gay couple came in and wanted us to provide pizzas for their wedding, we would have to say no.”

Although, it is unlikely anyone would request a small pizza place to cater a wedding, this pizzeria has caught backlash from the emotional impact felt by those on both sides of the RFRA. At first, the owners of Memories Pizza shut their doors due to the negativity they were receiving regarding the topic. They told news affiliates that they were receiving threats via Yelp and Twitter and simply did not feel safe to be in business. But as supporters of the RFRA heard of this news, they retaliated in their own way.

In order to “relieve the financial loss endured by the proprietors”, a public crowd-funding donation page on Go Fund Me was set up for Memories Pizza. After just nearly 48 hours, the site that had set an original goal of $200,000 had exceeded all expectations by collecting approximately $842,442. In raising the unexpected funds, Memories Pizza has become a symbol for the national debate around Indiana’s new state law.

Nevertheless, some people are questioning how in the world a small-town business with a stance on a national issue was able to receive so much donation in so little time. The key here is the power of social media and a new trend called crowdfunding.

Crowdfunding is the practice of funding a project or venture by raising many small amounts of money from a large number of people. Typically via the Internet, crowdfunding has gained extreme popularity lately with recent national debate issues. From the memorial funds for Michael Brown to the support funds for George Zimmerman; take a heated national issue and spread it over social media, create a online donation page and you’re sure to get some attention.

The page was started by an opinion contributor to local television station (TheBlaze) in order to support the family through their times of “assault” by the general public. After 99K Facebook shares, local news and eventually national news stations picked up the donation page which resulted in the surge of support. Memories Pizza GoFundMe page received $17,000 in a matter of 60 minutes. Support from all over the country began pouring in and eventually tallied at 29,161 total donations.

Campaigns like Memories Pizza GoFundMe and others help illustrate how quickly divisive political issues can go viral– and how easy it is for millions of people to declare their support with a few dollars.

If you’re interested in reading further on the issue of Crowdfunding, check out the below article posted by Forbes: The Politics of Crowdfunding