A few months ago, we caught wind of something amazing happening in the social media universe. One donor, Steve (he asked us not to use his last name), was sharing projects on Facebook and Twitter for his friends to fund. This sort of thing happens all the time, but in this case, we saw new notifications every day for a few weeks. One project, then ten, then fifty!Although he originally intended to fund 31 projects for December’s 31 days, Steve’s friends were so enthusiastic that he raised his goal. They all ended up funding an incredible 100 projects throughout the giving season.We had to know how Steve came up with this plan to engage his friends, so we reached out to talk. Here’s part of our interview, lightly edited for clarity and length.
Tell us how you came up with the idea for a Facebook campaign.
On social media, there was so much anger and so much negativity. So I just decided to do something positive. I thought about it and I went to your site and I pulled one [project], just one. I chose that school in a high poverty area that needed like, $43 to go. To get them past the finish line, I put the project up on my [Facebook] page with a note that said: “There's been a lot of negativity and this is something positive. This is something you can do. You can sit and talk all you want, or you can do something. Do I have 43 friends will give $1?”In less than an hour that person was funded. And so I just thought I'll pick up another one. And then I thought of the third one. And suddenly we've passed 10, and then people were writing me to put more on. People like the goal and people like to participate. People like to be part of something.
How did you choose which projects to support?
I want these kids out there to have the opportunities that I had growing up in New Jersey at the time in one of the best school systems in the nation: going to school and loving school and loving the projects and being inspired. So when I see teachers who are thinking a little bit outside of the box at more 21st century ways of teaching in their classroom, I get inspired and those are a lot of the ones that we picked.Your site allows people to apply their own interests and their own background [to donations], whether they’re a doctor and they're interested in science or they're a musician and they're interested in the arts. And I love that.
Of those 100 projects, were there any that particularly stood out?
I have a childhood friend, Wendy, who is a teacher. For our 50th one I chose one of the classrooms from her school, I think $515 was the need. It took us all day but we funded it. But that was an interesting one, because when I put up the $17 ones and the $31 ones, they go pretty quick. It's that weird thing that people do in their heads, they see $500 and they go “oh I can't help. Oh nothing I do is going to matter. Oh my two dollars won't matter.” But it does! We chipped away at it all day, and that was it.
What message do you want to send to teachers who might read this?
I think I would tell the teachers out there that there's a lot more support. There's a bunch of us out here who are here for you. There's a lot of people who think like me, who want to support the next generation and generations to come. Keep posting!