In 48 hours, a celebration of community, fandom, and doing good for the world raised a total of $3,069,995.33 for charity. This is just the latest feat in the sixteen-year legacy of the Project for Awesome.
The Project for Awesome, or P4A, as its viewers know it, is an annual livestream project for charity hosted by Hank and John Green. The 2023 P4A provided no shortage of the goofy antics and heartwarming moments that have become its reputation — as countless people tune in, create inside jokes, and raise money for organizations making a meaningful difference.
"There's nothing guaranteed about a better world… but I think it's possible."
“There’s nothing guaranteed about a better world… but I think it’s possible,” said John. “And that’s why the Project for Awesome is so important to me personally. Because it always comes at the perfect time for me somehow; it comes at a time when I need to know that we can choose a better world together.”
What is the Project for Awesome?
The first P4A took place in 2007, during Hank and John Green’s earliest years of YouTube fame. Since then, as the Green brothers have grown more famous as authors, educational content creators, TikTokers, and even sock spokespeople, the P4A’s popularity has risen, too.
What began as a modest, lighthearted project for the Green brothers’ YouTube viewers – known in the fan community as Nerdfighters – is now an annual project yielding millions each year.
The P4A, at its core, is a 48-hour live stream to raise money for charity.
"Every year, people from all over the world come together to raise money and awareness to make the world a better place."
“Every year, people from all over the world come together to raise money and awareness to make the world a better place,” Hank explained.
Although charity live streams have become more common since its debut, the P4A maintains elements that make the event unique and engaging.
One of these elements is the ability to claim “perks” in exchange for donations. Each year’s perks include reliable favorites like exclusive podcast episodes and commemorative coins but also one-of-a-kind artwork, at times inspired by inside jokes from the stream.
The 2023 perks list even included a hand-made quilt created by a community member — and actor Ryan Reynolds donated and signed an Adventure Time watch he wore in Deadpool, which was auctioned off for $9,876.54.
In addition to donating and receiving perks, viewers can submit a charity for consideration to be a beneficiary of the project. During the stream, viewers can vote for charities to benefit from the money raised.
“Regardless of whether you can donate, you help decide where the money we’re raising right now is going to go,” said John. “That’s really important. It’s arguably more important than raising the money — making sure we send it to the right places.”
The stream also features a variety of special guests, including content creators, authors, representatives from charities, and even wild animals.
As of this year, P4A events have raised more than $20 million dollars.
“I find hope in weekends like this — but also in seeing all the places and all the times when people are collaborating together to make the world suck less,” said John.
The 2023 P4A in Action
This year’s P4A began with John and Hank livestreaming together in suits and ties and ended with Hank wearing a crab hat and John’s family drawing all over his face with sharpies. In between, dozens of members of the Green cinematic universe took turns hosting and co-hosting segments of the livestream.
Segments featured Hrishikesh Hirway of Song Exploder, engineer Destin Sandlin, musician Tessa Violet, The Gregory Brothers, and more than a dozen more beloved personalities.
Throughout the event, P4A-related memes filled Twitter and Reddit.
Among the most notable moments in the event were seemingly food related: Hank “cronching” a lemon, Hank dipping a Dr Pepper-flavored Peep into a can of Dr Pepper-flavored beans, Hank cracking an egg on his head, and a recurring joke about hummus. Hank sang a number of parodies of songs… related to, mostly, food. Again, all for charity.
P4A reached $1 million raised in the first two hours — and ended the event with $2.85 million raised. But Nerdfighters were not content. Donations continued pouring in after the stream ended, surpassing $2.9 million raised by the end of Sunday.
With the $3 million milestone so close, the community wasn’t content to stop. On Monday morning, with $53,000 needed to reach the new target, Hank tweeted, “Seriously contemplating restarting the livestream if it looks like we might get past $3M.”
On Monday evening, Hank tweeted that an anonymous donor had pledged $20,000 in matching funds to try to reach $3 million. Within hours, the community reached more than $3,005,000.
Who benefits from the P4A?
When a viewer donates or selects a perk during the P4A, the money is donated directly to the Foundation to Decrease World Suck. The FTDWS is a nonprofit organization founded by Hank and John specifically for the P4A. Rather than supporting a single cause, the Foundation distributes funds raised among various charities.
Each year, money raised during the first 24 hours of the P4A is split between Partners in Health and Save the Children, two global healthcare-focused nonprofit organizations. The Greens have longstanding partnerships with these organizations, including their ongoing commitment with PIH to building, staffing, and maintaining a teaching hospital in Sierra Leone.
In one of the first segments of the livestream, John was joined by Dr. Joia Mukherjee, the chief medical officer at Partners In Health.
“We’re grateful to the whole community — each and every one of you, whatever you’re able to do — just paying attention to these issues… that’s enough,” she said.
"We're grateful to the whole community — each and every one of you, whatever you're able to do — just paying attention to these issues… that's enough."
Money raised during the second half of the stream is split among various charities submitted and voted on by P4A viewers and Nerdfighters throughout the stream. Voting allows each viewer to promote causes with personal meaning to them while maintaining the collective, communal experience of watching the stream together.
In an April 20, 2023 email to supporters, Hank and John announced the winners of the vote:
- American Library Association
- Animal Wonders
- Asian Americans United
- Audre Lorde Project
- Camp Lilac
- Center for Reproductive Rights
- Ecology Project International
- Fandom Forward
- Good Food Institute
- Hear Your Song
- Legacy Youth Leadership
- Mermaids UK
- National Center for Transgender Equality
- No Means No Worldwide
- Not Forgotten
- Other People Fund
- Prison Book Program
- Project Heal
- She’s The First
- Sustainability Matters
- The Ocean Cleanup
- The Trevor Project
- Thirst Project
- This Star Won't Go Out
- Uplift - Online Communities Against Sexual Violence
- Wikimedia Foundation
Decreasing world suck beyond the P4A
Hank, John, and Nerdfighteria’s contributions to charity go far beyond the P4A. Through various outlets, including the Awesome Socks Club and the Awesome Coffee Club, the Greens and their online community have pledged to raise over $30,000,000 for their Sierra Leone project with Partners in Health. While this recent work is the community’s landmark project, Decreasing World Suck has been the unofficial mission of Nerdfighteria since its origin.
"Take a moment to reflect on it and celebrate it and feel that shared sense of endeavor — that magic that you have when a lot of people's love is oriented in the same direction and the thing that connects you to them is that your love goes toward the same places."
“What we get to share together is very special and like everything in this world, it’s temporary and let’s not take it for granted,” John said at the end of the livestream.
“Take a moment to reflect on it and celebrate it and feel that shared sense of endeavor — that magic that you have when a lot of people’s love is oriented in the same direction and the thing that connects you to them is that your love goes toward the same places.”
The 2023 P4A is yet another demonstration of the power of community. At the end of the 48-hour stream, viewers and participants had raised a grand total of $3,069,995.33.
Although the P4A stream has ended for 2023, it is not too late to get involved with this year’s project. The P4A website will remain live through Monday, February 21, to make donations and claim perks via Tiltify — the fundraising platform used for the annual event.
"The community does a really great job making the experience of the P4A what it is… It's the reason why the P4A ultimately works."
“This has been a great Project for Awesome — not because of Hank or me — but because of the extraordinary people who come together every year to make it work. And it’s truly, truly inspirational to me,” John said in the final hours of the event.
“The community does a really great job making the experience of the P4A what it is… It’s the reason why the P4A ultimately works.”