Dubbed “America’s Government Teacher,” Sharon McMahon is making a difference with her online platform — and frankly, we should all be teacher’s pets.
McMahon’s digital community, the proud “Governerds,” follow her Instagram account, and take action in real life, channeling their newfound social studies knowledge for good.
Since McMahon launched her platform and rose to prominence in 2020, she and her community have raised funds for teachers, neighbors, and organizations, and have built a coalition of truth-seekers who appreciate McMahon’s dedication to sharing non-partisan facts about the U.S. government and democracy.
Who is Sharon McMahon?
Sharon McMahon (also known as @sharonsaysso), is a former high school government and law teacher who became everyone’s teacher when she brought her savvy and truth-seeking self to Instagram during the 2020 election. She is now a podcast host and entrepreneur doing good and teaching the public every day.
Through her simple mission to bring truth and logic to a society plagued by bias and conspiracy, Minnesota native McMahon has amassed thousands of followers, many of whom are fans of her podcast Sharon Says So, where she interviews experts on democracy, American politics, education, and society.
McMahon also teaches a popular workshop: Government For Grownups, which lives out her mission is to guide participants to relevant and accurate facts, so they can be “informed, empowered, and engaged.”
She’s a beacon for truth, a communicator on how to consume the news, and a leader for consuming and sharing information in our current political landscape.
Sharon also has a background as a photographer and loves wildlife — so you can always rely on her to share some super cute photos of animals — like baby ducks, eagles, and whales — along with fun facts.
McMahon’s community (there are over 800,000 Governerds!) is grateful to her for bringing balance in the form of cute baby animals, as well as taking strides help others understand the news, support people in need, and make a global impact through her work.
Who are the Governerds?
The Governerds is the name of Sharon McMahon’s fanbase on her Instagram, @sharonsaysso. This community of thinkers, feelers, and learners seek reliable, truthful information about current events and have raised more than $4.2 million for charities like RIP Medical Debt and World Central Kitchen.
McMahon has described Governerds as a “beautiful pocket of the internet,” who are trying to find ways to show up and be engaged with the world.
“A certain type of person is interested in being in this community,” she said on Sounds Good. “This is not a place where we’re going to scream at each other and have arguments. We’re going to have discussions, we’re going to respect each other, we’re not going to work to destroy each other.”
While Governerds come to McMahon’s platform for trusted information, many stay for the growing community that has been developed through informed discourse and innate generosity.
McMahon and her community have raised millions of dollars to support major charitable causes and individuals who need a little extra support from their neighbors.
“I am very encouraged by seeing what is coming out of my community, and what can happen when we work together instead of working against each other.”
How much money have Sharon McMahon and the Governerds raised for charity?
McMahon and the Governerds have raised over $4.2 million dollars to help pay off medical debt, support relief efforts in Ukraine, award grants and resources to teachers, and more.
Her first community fundraising effort sparked when she was looking for a way to celebrate a 50,000 follower milestone on Instagram. Folks suggested she accept Venmo donations so she could raise money to “make somebody’s day.” Through this, Governerds raised $125,000, which was all given away to individuals and organizations.
“I can’t take much credit for it,” McMahon said. “It truly is the amazing members of my community who have a heart for giving, for lifting other people up. I am continually floored by their generosity.”
McMahon and her community have continued to raise funds for other efforts. She allows her community to simply send money via PayPal and Venmo — and she shares public documentation of how much is donated and where the proceeds are donated via Instagram Stories.
McMahon also offers weekly giveaways to her podcast listeners, providing funds to a retailer of their choice just for tuning in.
On March 16th, McMahon announced that “this community has given $4.2 million in the past 15 months.”
The Governerds raised $560,000 to forgive medical debt
After her initial fundraising effort, McMahon had $15,000 left and decided to use it to help forgive medical debt, partnering with the organization RIP Medical Debt. She decided to open up the fundraiser to the community with a goal to raise just a little more, and they showed up with a lot more.
McMahon and the Governerds raised over $560,000 in grassroots donations to forgive $65 million of medical debt — within five days.
This generosity, coupled with the efficient and highly leveraged model of RIP Medical Debt made for a historical fundraising success story.
RIP Medical Debt combines the generosity of donors (like the Governerds) with debt industry expertise to help millions in mitigating medical debt. For every $100 donated, RIP Medical Debt is able to relieve $10,000 in medical debt.
In the end, RIP Medical Debt confirmed the Governerd community forgave $147,001,232.41 of medical debt.
McMahon explained that two-thirds of bankruptcies in the U.S. involve medical debt, and after finding RIP Medical Debt, she knew her community could make a difference. She just didn’t realize how big of a difference that could be.
This massive fundraiser relieved medical debt for 74,474 people.
“How did the most generous people on the planet coalesce onto my Instagram page?” McMahon asked on an Instagram story, crying. “It’s really kind of a miracle. There’s no logical explanation.”
The community raised more than $600,000 to help Ukrainians through World Central Kitchen and CARE
A little over a year after McMahon’s mind-blowing medical debt fundraiser, she came to her community again with a new request: to help care for Ukrainians fleeing their invaded homeland.
According to McMahon, as of March 16, 2022, the Governerds have raised over $623,000 for both organizations.
World Central Kitchen provides hot, fresh meals to refugees fleeing the conflict area and those staying in shelters or camps. Their team has been on the ground in Ukraine, as well as surrounding areas like Moldova and Romania.
“Can you imagine how it has to feel to wait in line to leave your country that’s being invaded, and people show up with soup for you?” McMahon shared on an Instagram story.
“How that one bowl of soup might make such a difference for you, not just physically, but also emotionally? Someone cared. Someone cared enough to cook for you, and really, isn’t that one of the kindest offerings a human has?”
In addition, CARE works to bring humanitarian aid to areas affected by conflict. Their team has been working around the clock to help Ukrainians with food, water, hygiene kits, and more. They also provide mental health services, emergency shelter, and other essentials.
The community raised another $1.2 million to support teachers through grants
While McMahon had previously created a successful teacher teacher grant program that raised more $560,000 — she set a more ambitious goal for her July 2022 campaign: $1 million.
She sought to provide 2000 grants of $500 each to help give back to teachers from every corner of the U.S. There would be no stipulations on how the funds are used.
Within just one weekend the Governerd community had raised $1.1 million — and continued to raise more funds over the next week.
What does this community teach us?
McMahon and her community teach us that we have more in common than we think — that generosity, kindness, compassion, and optimism can be the way forward.
The Governerds model a community in which curiosity and a hunger for knowledge can lead to unprecedented care and change in our world.
McMahon leads a group of engaged citizens that have chosen to prioritize facts and a focus on togetherness, in a time where those beliefs are rare gems.
Her community proves that leading with honesty, empathy, and humanity truly is a powerful force that can change the tide.
“I am hopeful that we can be the change we wish to see; that every small action has an infinite number of ripples; that, incrementally, and slowly, and through this grassroots effort, we can affect significant change in the world.”
“I am hopeful that we can be the change we wish to see; that every small action has an infinite number of ripples; that, incrementally, and slowly, and through this grassroots effort, we can affect significant change in the world,” McMahon said.
How can you support @sharonsaysso’s community and make a difference?
You can follow along with Sharon McMahon on Instagram (@sharonsaysso) and keep an eye out for future Governerd fundraisers in her Instagram Stories.