As of Jan. 17, approximately 2,000 campaigns have raised over $500,000 to support those impacted by the shutdown, GoFundMe Spokeswoman Katherine Cichy told Yahoo Finance. The website has been utilizing its Trust & Safety team to verify that these campaigns are related to the shutdown.
Kinata Holt, a veteran and federal employee from Missouri, wrote on her GoFundMe page that she is a single mother with six children who solely depend on her.
“My only income has been stopped [due] to the government shutdown,” her page states. “I have sought and exhausted all other resources but they have not been enough to keep up with my bill or my children needs. I am not sure when will be able to return to work and I am merely asking for those who can to please help with a monetary donation of your choice.”
Kevin Garfinkle, an airport employee from Pembroke Pines, Fla., is also asking for donations through GoFundMe.
“I am my family’s only source of income and due to the partial government shutdown, I will not be receiving a paycheck until the government reopens, even though I am still required to report for duty, which means bills will go unpaid but more so than that I will be unable to buy groceries or diapers for my family,” he wrote. “This is not something I ask lightly. There are many others in the same situation as I find myself in. Anything helps and would be a blessing to my family.”
Like most Americans, $1,000 is a key number
Even the U.S. Coast Guard has resorted to crowdfunding. The Coast Guard is part of the Department of Homeland Security, one of the federal agencies hit hard by the shutdown. One Coast Guard member’s family created a GoFundMe campaign to raise money for the thousands of members working without pay. All donated funds are going to the Coast Guard Mutual Assistance, “a non-profit run by current and former Coast Guard members to provide assistance in times of need, including interest-free loans and financial counseling,” according to USA Today.
Federal workers haven’t received paychecks in nearly a month, and many of them can’t afford a $1,000 shock. According to a Bankrate survey, only 40% of American respondents said they would be able to pay a $1,000 expense from their savings. For many federal workers not being paid, they’re more than likely to need to dip into their savings soon enough.
“It’s consistent with what we’ve seen in recent years,” Greg McBride, chief financial analyst at Bankrate, told Yahoo Finance. “That’s $1,000. With a lot of federal workers without paychecks, that check exceeds $1000 really fast.”
Federal employees make a median salary of $77,000, although about 20% make less than $50,000. Since the shutdown began, these employees have lost more than $5,000 on average, according to a New York Times analysis. Some federal workers told the Times that they currently have less than a month of savings.
Crowdfunding for federal workers not an ideal option
McBride said that crowdfunding is “certainly option” for furloughed workers, but emergency savings are better for times like this. “You don’t have to bare your financial soul to the rest of the world,” he said.
Another course of action he recommended is contacting creditors. Some federal agencies have been sending form letters to furloughed employees to show to their creditors that explains their current predicaments.
“See if there are any payment arrangements that can be made,” McBride said. “Many banks and credit card issuers stated they will work with federal employees that are currently not receiving paychecks. You’ve got to get out in front of it.”
Adriana is an associate editor for Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter @adrianambells.