The Internet trends of 2012, for the most part, were either magical combinations of animal and food (see putting slices of bread on cat’s heads) or the result of drunken frat house brainstorming (see planking, milking and Tebowing). Although most of 2012’s trends were a great distraction from the reality of our soul-crushing existences, their overnight popularity and pop-up Tumblrs quickly turned into porn trafficking sites and distant memories.
Luckily, an internet trend that took off in 2012 seems to be sailing past fad and into a secure slot as the new standard – crowd-funded charity. This year, Indiegogo, Kickstarter and YouTube channels worldwide took their causes directly to the public asking for support from the internet community and the results were typically unprecedented.
One such example was Hank and John Green’s charity fundraiser Project For Awesome. The event, held on YouTube for two days, raised $483,446 in conjunction with an Indiegogo campaign. Project For Awesome asked creators to submit videos promoting the charity of their choice. The top 5 videos would then receive the earnings from the fundraiser.
I caught up with one of the good dudes behind Project For Awesome, Hank Green, to talk about the campaign’s insane success and the magic behind crowd-funded charity.
This is the best year Project for Awesome has ever had in terms of fundraising — why do you think this year was such a success?
Hank Green: A few reasons. First, because the YouTube community continues to grow, and with it, the number of people we reach via the Project for Awesome. Second, we structured things differently by using IndieGoGo for our fundraising. Letting people get something, even if it’s just recognition, in return for their donation is really cool. But most of our money was raised through perks donated from YouTubers, which we were very lucky and thankful to get.
The Men of YouTube calendar was a huge hit — how did you get all of those creators involved? Who took the best picture for the calendar?
I knew that was going to do well the moment my wife and I had the idea. People were pretty psyched to be involved and we had a great producer (Jenni Powell) who did all the legwork to actually get the pictures taken and a great photographer (Nikita Bogolyubov) to take the pictures and do the post production and one of my favorite designers in the world, Karen Kavett, to tie it all together. As for the best photo … I plead the fifth.
Tons of YouTube talent chipped in to help out this cause. What does it say to you about the YouTube community that so many creators are willing to help out?
I really think it’s still a pretty tight-knit group of people who like each other and want to work together and want to make the world a better place. We’re all extremely busy though, of course, so a lot of people who wanted to be involved couldn’t be, and it’s logistically quite difficult to plan something like this with everyone volunteering what tiny amount of free time they happen to have. But we do our best … despite being very disorganized, I think we do a great job.
Do you know the organizations that will receive the funds raised by the Project for Awesome?
We’ll be announcing them soon!
What is the goal for the Project for Awesome in 2013?
Bigger? Better? Sexier? We’ll be putting a lot of thought into that next year, as online video grows, so will the Project for Awesome. But it’s always important to note, this thing works because it’s something we do with our communities. I really feel like we all get down in the trenches together for the P4A every year, and it’s insanely fun to do … though also really really exhausting. So whatever we do, it will have a focus on this place as a community, not just on the big-name creators helping us out, because none of us are anything without our communities.