YouTube: its a place to watch cats chase laser pointers, amazing covers of your favorite songs, and people falling flat on their face, and give back.
Confused about the last one? Many people associate YouTube with entertainment, not charity. However, VlogBrothers John and Hank Green have been challenging this idea since 2007. With the help of their community, Nerdfighteria, the Green brothers raise thousands of dollars every December to support a wide array of charities. It is aptly called “The Project for Awesome”, with the noble goal of “decreasing world suck” through a 48-hour live-stream-donation bonanza.
Here’s how it works: Nerdfighters (members of the community) create videos about charities in their community that could use some extra funding. These could range from animal shelters to groups that donate bikes to kids in need. Then, other Nerdfighters watch, comment, and like the videos to show their support. The favorite charities are allocated grants from the money raised. In 2007 the group “hacked” the algorithm, and managed to make the entire YouTube home page about charity! Two or three large charities are also given funds.
Then, the live stream begins! John, Hank, and a plethora of other YouTubers take turns auctioning off items, completing challenges, and answering questions. People watching the stream can donate via the website, or purchase “perks”, limited addition items that are sold to benefit the stream. The donations are usually matched to a certain amount, and then its up to the YouTube community to reach the yearly goal. In 2015, the Project for Awesome raised a staggering $1.5 dollars.
As a lover of YouTube, and a member of Nerdfighteria, this project is one of my favorites. It demonstrates that YouTube really is a community that cares about the world, not just a bunch of angry comments. It proves how much good can be done in the digital space, and through video, by everyday people. It feels pretty good.