By Sarah B Lange under Fundraising, Philanthropy Stories on February 4, 2021

It all started when one person noticed that something was amiss with GameStop stock – the number of shares that had been sold were greater than the number that actually existed. This person then alerted the other members of an internet forum, and they decided to buy up all the shares they could. These were the very shares that the hedge funds needed to purchase in order to cover the shortage they had created. Because these buyers held on to their shares, the price of the stock skyrocketed in response to the demand. This left the hedge fund managers up the creek, in a tipped canoe, without a paddle.

In response to the rapid price increase and a number of “Everyday Joes” becoming millionaires overnight, the most popular stock broker used by these buyers banned the purchase of the stock. However, people continued buying the stock through other brokers, sending the price even higher. As word about this stock spread, people around the globe purchased GameStop stock, so it’s no longer a US phenomenon. This has driven the price even higher.

This situation came about because the “little people” banded together to assert control in an arena which has — until now — been completely dominated and manipulated by hedge funds, stock brokers and wealthy individuals with billions of dollars at their disposal. As you might imagine, this whole GameStop situation has made them very unhappy! They are throwing a collective tantrum, but as an astute Boston investor noted, “You can’t stop the internet.”

Why am I – a fundraiser – talking about the stock market, hedge funds and GameStop? Because it’s a glorious example of what can happen when we – the “little people” — band together. A small group of everyday people have turned Wall Street on its head. A new way of investing has emerged and I suspect it’s here to stay. Wall Street – like the music industry – is going to have to adapt to a new reality.

Coincidentally, today also happens to be Rosa Parks Day. As secretary of the Montgomery (AL) chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), Rosa was in charge of investigating cases of sexual assault. In 1945, she investigated the gang rape of a woman of color, perpetrated by White men. The protest that arose around this case was the 1st nationwide civil rights demonstration.

Parks had completed a course called Race Relations at the Highlander Folk School, in which nonviolent civil disobedience (think: Gandhi) was taught as a tactic. In December 1955, Rosa put it to use, refusing to give up her seat to a White man. Her arrest sparked the Montgomery bus boycott, which was a seminal event in the Civil Rights Movement. Rosa may have acted on her own that day, but she and many others played a part in tipping the segregation canoe.

What canoe needs to be tipped in your part of the world?
And who can you work with to turn things on their head?

If we want to solve the social problems that continue to impact our community, it’s going to take a bigger and more sustained effort than any one nonprofit can produce. We’re going to need to develop many diverse (and sometimes strange) partnerships and all work in tandem to move the needle.

In the 50s and 60s, the civil rights revolution took the country by storm. A decade ago, the music industry was dumped on its head. This week, Wall Street is being unceremoniously dumped into the cold waters of a new reality. If we “little people” can give segregation, the music industry, and Wall Street a run for its money, what else might be possible?

If you need some help dreaming big and putting together a plan for making it a reality, get in touch!

And – at any time you find yourself with a question, or facing a challenge, I’m here to help: click here to book in 15 minutes with me.


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