YouTuber Jimmy Donaldson, better known by his online moniker MrBeast, has 32 million subscribers. His videos rack up tens of millions of views within days. He’s well known for expensive stunts, such as a $70,000 hide and seek game, and high-profile philanthropy.
It was in support of this aim that Donaldson recently found worldwide acclaim. In October 2019, in partnership with YouTuber Mark Rober, MrBeast kicked off the #TeamTrees campaign. The aim was to raise $20m by the end of the year, with each dollar used to plant one tree, in partnership with the Arbor Day Foundation.
#TeamTrees was supported by more than 600 YouTubers, who collectively projected out to over 150 million subscribers. They each produced tree-focused video content, encouraging people to donate and using their combined weight to ‘game’ YouTube’s algorithm, ensuring the site — visited by 1.9 billion people every month, or one in four people on the planet — was flooded with content about planting trees and fighting climate change.
The campaign was a stunning success, continually pushed by Donaldson. By mid-December, the collective had reached the goal. More than 500,000 people donated, including $150,000 from Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, and $1m from Tesla CEO Elon Musk, who subsequently changed his Twitter handle to ‘Treelon’. The tree planting has already started.
Donaldson’s YouTube videos had limited reach for the first five years of his career — he started at 13 years old, in 2012 — until he had viral success with the video “counting to 100,000.” His stunts have included giving $100,000 worthof items to homeless shelters in December 2018; $70,000 to Saint Jude Children’s Research Hospital, and $10,000 to a local animal shelter in Los Angeles.Tags: Climate crisis, deforestation, YouTube