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Why Project for Awesome is Unprecedented

We are one week away from Project for Awesome (P4A), an annual 48-hour event where vloggers, a handful of celebrities, and the general public upload videos to YouTube promoting their favorite charity.

It gets fun. It gets serious. It gets weird. But most of all, it gets charitable.

At first glance, Project for Awesome might seem like a traditional fundraiser or nothing more than a crowdfunding campaign. But P4A, in all its strange glory, refuses to fit neatly into either of these labels.

Project for Awesome is unprecedented. It marries traditional fundraising techniques with new technologies. It embraces “slactivism” without sacrificing depth or impact. It breeds a sense of optimism and community.

For 48 hours, P4A airs a nonstop video stream, but unlike a telethon of powdered and prepped celebrities, the P4A livestream lives on a Google+ hangout. It may still be a parade of celebrities and YouTube sensations, but P4A has the added spice of mayhem and spontaneity, humanizing the entire experience. (Have you ever wanted to watch John Green, author of The Fault in Our Stars, cover his face in Sharpie? You could’ve last year.) All the while, viewers can drop comments and live chat in the video feed, breaking down the barrier that has always existed between celebrities and viewers during telethons.

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While the livestream hosts are celebs, P4A gives voice to anybody with a webcam: every few minutes, the hosts direct viewers to watch charitable videos, many of which are made by everyday people. This is a fundamental shift in charity drives: rather than solely relying on the inspiration of wealthy icons, this project gives a voice and platform to your friends, your neighbors, and to you.

By engaging and entertaining viewers, P4A makes being charitable simple and fun. Easily supporting causes online, dubbed “slactivism”, has received its fair share of criticism: namely, that it doesn’t have much real-world impact, and it fails to educate participants about the cause they’re supporting.

P4A turns those negative stereotypes on their head.

It’s impossible to participate in P4A and not learn about social-impact organizations. The hundreds of uploaded videos expose participants to a spectrum of charitable organizations and the global problems they’re solving.

In addition to education, Project for Awesome 2013 supporters raised over $869,000 for nonprofits—nothing to scoff at. This is particularly stunning when you consider that P4A is driven strongly by youth involvement. The participants skew younger, with many high-school and college students participating, challenging the trope of a youth detached from social change. The videos created by young adults bubble with optimism on how the world can be changed for the better. It’s terribly difficult to not be inspired.

Are you excited yet? I hope so.

Here’s how you can participate in Project for Awesome 2014:

  • Make a video. I’d encourage you to promote one of Tab for Cause’s partner charities*, and let people know Tab for a Cause is an easy way to support the charity all year round! The Tab for a Cause team will be dropping a few (probably kinda awkward) videos ourselves, so watch out for those :)
  • Tune in to the livestream. It will run December 12-13 on YouTube. More details to come here.
  • Pitch in a few dollars if you can. It’s all for a good cause, and you’ll be able to get some fun prizes during the project.

If you do participate, you’ll witness a unique event that’s pushing the boundaries of traditional fundraising and social good outreach.

Until next week. Don’t forget to be awesome.

* Tab for a Cause’s charity partners:, Room to Read, Educate!, Save the Children, Action Against Hunger, Conservation International, Human Rights Watch, and The Foundation to Decrease Worldsuck.

Written by Kevin Jennison, Co-Founder and CTO