Team Trees Breakout Fundraiser


Sydney Hancock

ENVIRONMENTAL FUNDRAISER: New YouTuber ran fundraiser, Team Trees, raises over $16 million in the first month of global release, with each dollar amounting to one tree planted somewhere around the globe.

Nick Swafford, Staff Writer

YouTubers around the globe band together to create Team Trees, a nonprofit to raise twenty million dollars by Jan. 1, 2020, in hopes to plant twenty million trees with help from the Arbor Day Foundation. 

The fundraiser was started by Youtubers Jimmy Donaldson, otherwise known online as “Mr. Beast,” and Mark Rober, as an effort to combat deforestation and climate change. According to the official Team Trees website, the idea for this fundraiser was given by Mr. Beast’s fans who wanted to celebrate his 20 million subscriber milestone spectacularly with the planting of 20 million trees. From May, 2019, Donaldson and Rober have been hard at work, partnering with the Arbor Day Foundation and hundreds of  other internet influencers in order to organize a working operation to raise 20 million dollars, with each dollar donated amounting to one tree planted. On Oct. 25, 2019, the fundraiser made its debut with hundreds of YouTubers and social media influencers around the globe releasing tree related videos in support of the pioneering fundraiser, drawing mass media attention and support to the cause. 

The fundraiser has had immense success in its first month of raising funds. When asked how much money they predict the nonprofit has raised, senior Alaina Bland estimates, “Three million dollars,” and sophomore Hannah Munson guesses, “$100,000.” Both of these guesses fall short of the nearly $16 million that the fundraiser has raised. In just under a month, the fundraiser has gained around $16.2 as of Nov. 25. This success can be partially attributed to the major publicity that it has gained upon its release from major celebrities and leaders of major corporations. According to Paige Leskin at Business Insider, Elon Musk, founder of Tesla and SpaceX, donated 1 million dollars to the cause. Soon, more and more celebrities and CEOs were drawn to the cause, such as Tobi Lukte, CEO of Shopify, who donated just over 1 million to the cause, and Jeffree Star, who donated $50,000. These monumental donations from major celebrities and CEOs inspired thousands of people to donate. Junior Alessia Camiolo says, “I think when celebrities or people that make a lot of money contribute, people start thinking [climate change] as an actual problem because they see those celebrities as role models so they want to do the same thing as them.” This trend of “follow the leader” has helped boost donations around the globe. 

The organization of hundreds of influencers around the globe played an even bigger part in getting the fundraiser publicity. One YouTuber that was reached out to by Donaldson and Rober was Destin Sandalin, who runs the science education YouTube channel Smarter Every Day. Adam Wernick, a writer for Pri, records an interview with Sandalin, where Sandalin says, “Something needs to happen, so we’re just going to do it. We’re not going to wait for policies; we’re not going to wait for anything like that. We’re just going to do things because we know how, and we’re able to. But that being said, it’s not limited to the younger generation. This is everybody. We want no boundaries, no borders on this at all. It’s all ‘we and us,’ and we’re all planting trees, which is awesome.” Sandalin also explains how a backing of so many influencers will have a huge effect on not only how many people donate, but what kind of model it is setting for the YouTubers’ viewerships. The younger audiences that many of these YouTubers have will see this act of goodwill for the environment and draw inspiration from the cause. Bland comments on the influence that these YouTubers will have saying, “It will be positive because [younger people] will want to do more movements like this.” The influence these YouTubers have will leave a major impact on the way people perceive climate change and will spark change around the world.

According to the Team Trees official website, the entire project stemmed from the idea that climate change is getting to an irreversible point of damage, which caused fans on social media such as YouTube, Instagram, and Reddit to urge Donaldson to celebrate his 20 million subscriber milestone by planting 20 million trees. Daniel Cooper from Engadget reports that “Research out of North Carolina State University says that the average tree can pull in 48 pounds of CO2 in a year, with that figure reaching closer to 1 ton of carbon after 40 years. At that estimate, 20 million trees could consume 480,000 tons of CO2 per year.” In perspective, that is not a large fraction of the worldwide CO2, but it is a monumental step to fix the damage done by climate change. Freshman Luke Harris points out the battle against CO2 emissions Team Trees has: “Well, [Team Trees] is definitely going to have an impact, but not as much as getting rid of fossil fuels and that stuff because we are gonna have a lot of trees which is going to reduce pollution, but there’s going to be larger sources of CO2 that are gonna stay.” Alone Team Trees won’t fix climate change, but sophomore Hannah Munson argues, “If more and more fundraisers are happening and more people are taking action to climate change, it will definitely help Earth gradually.”

Since Oct. 25, Team Trees has raised a large amount of money that will hopefully continue influencing and supporting actions against the growing climate change crisis. The success of this fundraiser and others like it will hopefully soon deliver us into a safer tomorrow.