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Fundraising in the 21st Century

30 October 2019 7:47 PM
Digital technology

Philanthropy was coined 400 years ago and for much of it, help came from the few that had the most to assist those that didn’t.

Until everyone in the world can live happily and sustainably, which is not any time soon, there will be a need for those that can help to assist those that need it. Technology has made human-loving (the meaning of philanthropy) at lot easier and allows many more to help others.


The first that used technology used television in 1949 to raise money from viewers for cancer research. It was 16 hours long and raised over a $1 million (over $10 million in 2019).

From 1949 till 2010 TV telethons were a big deal in the US for raising money for charities from small donations. The donations may have been small but millions were willing to donate.

The internet supercharged mailshots asking for donations when they switched to emails. Social media did not only provide a platform to ask for help in 2006, but it also allowed each donor to share the appeal to the friends and family.

Social Media

In 2014, a campaign for motor neuron disease asked people to pour a bucket of ice water over their heads and challenge three people to do the same or donate what they could to ALS research.

Facebook and YouTube had billions of users and the challenge was easy and fun and swept the globe. In less than a month while the challenges were been posted by the minute, donations topped $100 million and allowed for lots more research and thankfully some real progress in understanding the condition and some hope for being able to treat it.

So what the internet-enabled, the web supplied and social media created was a sure-fire way to raise money and make a difference! Not quite. While I am sure you remember the ice-bucket challenge, you probably don’t remember that it has taken place every year since 2014 including this year although the challenge was to eat a chilli.

While technology has made it easier to connect to many more people, there are also now many more people connecting and sharing worthy causes for you to support.

So what you need are access and timing, and this is where trees come in.

Team Trees

YouTube has created a new type of TV star, they are young and have millions of fans, but they are not hired and they became TV stars in various ways. One of the youngest, an 8-year-old called Ryan has millions of other children watching him open and play with toys, he was featured on this feature before.

But this story is about a 21-year-old Jimmy Donaldson, a YouTuber that has been creating videos since he was 13 and known as MrBeast. His videos typically get millions of views and are silly pranks to see what people might be willing to do for money, but many videos can be described as philanthropy for Millenials. He has one video in which he gives away tips to waitrons in increasing amounts from a penny to $10 000. He bought all the car in a car dealership for a $100 000 dollars then sold them to unsuspecting customers for under $10. In the most digital age donation, he would look for Twitch gamers that had no viewers and gave them random amounts of money up to $10K.

In June he got his 20 millionth subscriber and was challenged to mark the milestone by planting 20 million trees.

He accepted and set about reaching out to other YouTube creators to collaborate and launch the fundraiser on 25 October 2019. Over 100 channels have joined, each creating videos to encourage their viewers to donate via the channel or the website

By the 30th of October, they had over $8 million raised.

Collectively the number of videos made to talk about the role trees play and why we should be planting them will not only raise the cash but also encourage many more to plant their own or at least look after the ones in their area a little better.

There have been media stories written about the effort which adds to the awareness and will drive more donations but there are also social engagements that are likely to result in more donations.

Elon Musk asked MrBeast on Twitter about the effort yesterday via Twitter, and today he donated a million dollars, dedicated the donation to a JRR Tolkien character called Treebeard and renamed his account name to Treelon Musk.

Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey also donated a 150 000 trees today. YouTube themselves have also come to the party and donated a million trees.

The trees will be planted by The Arbor Day Foundation who can plant a tree for $1. The trees will be planted all around the world using trees that are natural to the area. Their own goal is to plant 100 million trees by 2022.

Trees are a great way to offset the CO2 emissions by humans but we would need a lot more than 100 million trees.

Ethiopia set the goal to plant 4 billion by replanting their old forest areas. Earlier this year they claimed to plant 350 million in a day. Even if it was not that many, it was a great effort.

India also claimed to plant an incredible 220 million trees in one day.

The big calculation is that there is 17 million square km of land not being used for agriculture than can be used to reforest. That would be about 17 times the size of South Africa or the size of Russia. We could plant over a trillion trees on that ground.

That many trees would reduce CO2 by over 66%. The trees could be planted over the next 50 to 100 years and as they grow will capture CO2 as an increasing pace.

When combined with the other mitigating options, the solution is not only practical, it could be affordable.

A trillion dollars is a very large sum of money. The most expensive man-made construction is the International Space Station and that only cost $150 billion.

But if you consider the carbon tax proposal in the US which would levy a rate of $25 per ton with a 2% inflation per year would raise a $1 trillion in a decade. If that we spread across the world the is a way to fund it.

But it starts today, with just $1 that you can donate and join #TeamTrees to get those trees in the ground.

30 October 2019 7:47 PM
Digital technology

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