Bullied Bus Monitor Gets Pay Day

New social networking sites help crowd fund start up businesses and help neighbors reach their goals.

Citizen journalism is becoming more prevalent than ever.  Take a look at Karen Klein, bus monitor from upstate New York.  Klein lived in the small town of Greece and road the Middle School bus every day.

Middle School students teased and traumatized her every day saying that she had no family (her son committed suicide and her husband passed away) and that she looked like a “troll.”  She was victimized by these students and the harassment was even videotapped.  This video was later put up on YouTube and had more than 7 million views.

As a result, a group of citizens decided to give Klein a vacation of a lifetime.  They put her story on Indigogo.com and tried to raise $5,000.  Instead, they raised more than $650,000 for her with more than 20 days left to raise the necessary funds.  At the time of this writing, nearly 30,000 people funded her vacation (and I think retirement as well).

The way Indigogo works (as does Kickstarter) is, if you are trying to raise money to start up a business or raise money for something, you can simply go on these “crowdsourcing” sites and create a campaign.  If you raise the money, the money belongs to you less the fees associated with the online software. If you don’t raise the money you set out to, you can pay more to the software company or you lose it.

Mustache Brewing Company is an example of a start up company that used Kickstarter to raise their initial investments.  When the banks turned them down to establish a Long Island brewing company, the Hicksville couple decided to give Kickstarter a try.  They raised more than the $25,000 they set up to raise. This helped them put down their initial investment to lease space for their brewery.

Obviously, you have to pay taxes on the money you raise.  You also need to give something to the recipient in return for the donation.  This could be a certificate, tee-shirt or official coffee mug.  There are some people who donated to Klein who want to petition that she not be charged income tax on the money, but that doesn’t really seem right, does it?

The students who bullied Klein will be “dealt with in September” when they return to school. In the meantime, Klein walks away with more than a half million dollars for a vacation of a lifetime and therapy sessions.


Hilary JM Topper, MPA is President and CEO of HJMT Public Relations, Inc.  She is an active blogger on HilaryTopper.com and has a radio show on Blogtalk Radio. Her firm also has a blog on social media marketing topics on www.hjmt.com. She is also President and Founder of the Social Media Association.


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friend June 27, 2012 at 07:27 PM
A bus monitor's job is to make sure there is no problems between the kids on the bus. If there hadn't been a video, it would have been her word against theirs. The way parents are today, she probably figured "why bother doing or saying anything?". If she said something, it would have been twisted around & the parents would have been mad at her for being inappropriate to their children. I don't blame her at all!
Tony Chliek June 27, 2012 at 08:46 PM
Hilary, I gifted her some money and I don't think it should be taxed. My mother in law gifted $5,000 to all of her grand children. Do you think that should be taxed too? I don't, a gift is a gift.
FYI June 27, 2012 at 09:12 PM
Uncle Sam allows a certain amount to be gifted to your children and grandchildren each year but beyond certain amount it becomes taxable. Just keep voting for more and bigger government! I think 5k, possibly 10k is allowable.
Hilary Topper June 27, 2012 at 10:19 PM
True.. I wonder who else was bullied on the bus besides the bus monitor.
Hilary Topper June 27, 2012 at 10:21 PM
Agree Tony, a gift is a gift but Indigogo is more of a grant. Many people use this program to try to raise money for a start up. If they have to pay taxes, shouldn't everyone pay taxes?


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