Could a Greek bailout be crowdfunded for a little feta and Ouzo?

As Greece teeters on the edge of default, an Indiegogo campaign to crowdfund a bailout is starting to look like more than just an online stunt.

Eric Mack Contributing Editor
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Eric Mack
3 min read

Slacktivists, unite! Screenshot by Eric Mack/CNET

In case you haven't heard the news or you've deliberately ignored it to prevent your brain from going numb, Greece is again on the verge of defaulting on a big chunk of money -- about $1.77 billion, in fact -- that it owes the International Monetary Fund for bailing it out a few years back.

Now the fiscally troubled nation is looking for a bailout to be able to pay back its last bailout, and it just might find one from a highly improbable source -- an online crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo started by some British dude.

Thom Feeney is a 29-year-old from London who works in marketing and started the campaign just a few days ago with the goal of crowdfunding the entire 1.6 billion euros Greece owes the IMF from donations by regular Europeans in exchange for basic incentives like some Greek feta cheese or the classic Greek drink Ouzo.

"All this dithering over Greece is getting boring," Feeney writes. "European ministers flexing their muscles and posturing over whether they can help the Greek people or not. Why don't we the people just sort it instead? The European Union is home to 503 million people -- if we all just chip in a few euro then we can get Greece sorted and hopefully get them back on track soon. Easy."

So, this is obviously a marketing stunt at best and a kind of mean joke at worst, right? After all, for any of the donations to go through, the campaign has to meet its billion-dollar goal, which would make it the most successful Indiegogo campaign ever by an order of magnitude.

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Ha ha, right? We've crowdfunded thousands for potato salad, so perhaps crowdfunding can save the world, or maybe at least a not insignificant portion of its economy. The worst thing that happens is a little awareness and attention is raised about an otherwise terribly boring but ultimately important news story, right? It's textbook slacktivism.

But maybe, just maybe... Could my digital cynicism be ill-founded?

Over the past 24 hours, the news on Greece has been swinging back and forth -- the government is going to be the first developed economy to default; no wait it's working on a last-minute deal. All the while, donors have been overwhelming the Indiegogo campaign site.

As our sister site CBS News reported, on certain moments Tuesday would-be crowd-bailer-outers were greeted with this message:

"The Greek Bailout Fund campaign page is experiencing some issues due to its astonishing popularity. It should be back up shortly. Follow us on Twitter and we'll let you know when it's back up."

In just three days, over 68,000 people have contributed to the campaign, most pledging just a few euros, but it's enough to push it over the $1 million mark, putting it in the same company as some of the most successful Indiegogo campaigns. But it's also less than 1 percent toward reaching its $1.7 billion goal.

With less than a week left in the campaign, it seems destined to fail, much like Greece's economy at the moment.

The real crowd-powered bailout that has a better chance of succeeding is the one that will happen over the next few years if default becomes a reality, as the masses take advantage of Greek economic misery and book cheap trips to Athens or other picturesque destinations.

Either way you're likely to be rewarded with plenty of feta and Ouzo.