Over the last sixteen years, one online community has repeatedly come together to raise over $20 million for various charities.
Project for Awesome, an annual 48-hour livestream fundraiser event, connects viewers with a multitude of creators for the purpose of doing good in the world — and having some fun along the way.
What is Project for Awesome?
Started in 2007 by Hank Green and John Green, the Project for Awesome is a once-yearly 48-hour YouTube livestream. The stream, which features a variety of guests and hosts, is designed to raise money for causes selected by viewers.
The premise of the Project for Awesome is simple enough: over the course of two full days, viewers tune in to watch Hank, John, and a variety of internet creators and guest hosts as they chat, create art, make music, educate one another about charitable causes or even interact with wild animals.
During the stream, viewers make donations to the Foundation to Decrease World Suck. In return, donors are able to receive “perks” that range from exclusive digital content and project4awesome swag to one-of-a-kind art pieces, a life-sized cardboard cut out of Jimin from BTS, or a watch worn in the movie Deadpool — signed by Ryan Reynolds himself.
As they watch and donate, viewers are also able to cast votes for which charitable causes they want the community’s donated funds to support.
Naturally, as the hours progress, the content from streamers tends to get wackier. Long-time viewers know that no Project for Awesome is complete without “Sharpie Face,” an appropriately named segment in which John Green finds his face covered in Sharpie doodles.
Fans of the Greens call themselves Nerdfighters, and Nerdfighteria (the nickname for the community) now embraces the Project for Awesome as a fandom holiday, dubbing it the P4A. This community support is a large part of what contributes to the authenticity and feel-good nature of the event.
The History of Project for Awesome
In 2007, with their YouTube channel in its infancy, Hank and John asked members of Nerdfighteria to post videos with a particular thumbnail to raise attention for a charity of their choice. Due to a loophole in YouTube’s recommendations algorithm at the time, these videos effectively took over YouTube.
The over 400 videos that resulted from this request launched what would become the Project for Awesome.
Over the years, the project grew to include the livestream that now serves as the cornerstone for the event.
Today, charity streams are a common occurrence across platforms like YouTube and Twitch. When the P4A began though, 48 consecutive hours of fundraising content was unheard of in online video. The Green brothers were pioneers in this area, bringing onboard a number of fellow internet celebrities throughout the years.
Behind the scenes, teams of volunteers work to produce and moderate the stream to ensure the experience stays functional and safe for everyone involved.
Since its origin, Project for Awesome has grown both in terms of its audience and its impact to charities.
Even in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, Nerdfighters came together to support the P4A in record numbers. The 2021 Project for Awesome raised over $2.3 million, the highest amount of any previous year in the project’s history.
What is the Foundation to Decrease World Suck?
The Foundation to Decrease World Suck is the foundation that supports the Project for Awesome. Incorporated as a nonprofit in 2012, the FTDWS serves to raise money for donations to various other charities.
The unique model of the Foundation to Decrease World Suck is part of what sets the Project for Awesome apart from other charity streams.
Because the Foundation redistributes its donations to other causes, viewers get to advocate for causes close to their own hearts and vote for organizations they want to support.
The donation money raised during the Project for Awesome livestream is split in two ways. For the first 24 hours, donations are divided between two organizations chosen by Hank and John — Partners in Health (whose founder, Paul Farmer, died just days before the 2022 P4A event) and Save the Children — which focus on bringing life-saving medical care and humanitarian aid to communities that need it most.
For the second half of the stream, all money raised is divided among viewer-selected organizations.
Just like in the earliest days of the P4A, viewers may submit an organization of their choice for consideration by creating a video highlighting the charity and its work.
Some of these videos are highlighted on stream, and viewers may cast their vote for any organization promoted in a video. After the stream, the charities whose videos earn the most votes receive a portion of the funds raised.
It’s also possible to support the Foundation to Decrease World Suck throughout the year by donating directly, participating in corporate giving, or via Tab for a Cause, a browser extension that raises money for charities every time you open a new tab.
How much has Project for Awesome raised for charity?
As of 2023, The Project for Awesome has raised more than $20 million for dozens of charities since its founding.
How To Get Involved in P4A
1. Support the Matching Fund
For a limited time before each year’s P4A, generous donors have the opportunity to donate $500 or more to the matching fund. Matching funds are an effective way to encourage donations from smaller donors who will be incentivized to unlock a doubled donation during the livestream.
2. Create a Video
Prior to the start of the livestream, anyone may submit a video promoting an organization or charity they wish to see supported by the Foundation to Decrease World Suck. Videos are uploaded to projectforawesome.com in the weeks before the stream, and they must be created specifically for the current year’s P4A in order to keep content relevant and engaging.
3. Vote for a Cause
Supporters have the chance to make their voices heard by voting for their favorite videos at projectforawesome.com. The videos with the most votes are selected to receive a portion of the funds raised by the P4A.
4. Donate and Claim Perks
During the stream (and in the days surrounding it), supporters can make a donation to the Foundation to Decrease World Suck. Project for Awesome donations are tax-deductible. In return for their donations, donors may select to receive a perk. Perks are available at varying dollar amounts and often refer to fandom jokes or hijinks happening on stream.
5. Watch the P4A Livestream
Even without a donation, anyone can tune into the livestream. Viewers can connect with one another in live chat comments, see real-time donation updates, and celebrate fundraising milestones with Nerdfighteria.
What are some other ways the Green Brothers and Nerdfighters make a difference?
Notably, John and Hank Green have found several creative ways to make a difference throughout their public careers.
Check out our articles about these initiatives: