Story at a glance

  • MrBeast, a popular YouTuber, galvanized the YouTube community to start a fundraiser called #TeamTrees.
  • #TeamTrees reached its goal of generating $20 million dollars to help plant 20 million new trees.
  • The fundraiser was supported by Silicon Valley executives such as Elon Musk and Jack Dorsey as well as Internet stars.

A viral challenge catalyzed by popular YouTuber MrBeast, real name Jimmy Donaldson, has brought together Silicon Valley executives, viewers and fellow YouTubers to raise $20 million dollars for the #TeamTrees initiative. 

#TeamTrees is a campaign that began in May 2019 when the online community challenged YouTube stuntman Donaldson to plant 20 million trees as a commemoration to achieving 20 million subscribers on his YouTube channel, per the #TeamTrees’ Facebook page.  

The #TeamTrees cause works on behalf of Arbor Day Foundation, a nonprofit dedicated to promoting reforestation and protecting trees.  

By October 2019, #TeamTrees generated more than $10 million with contributions from power players like Elon Musk, Shopify CEO Tobi Lütke, YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki and Twitter and Square CEO Jack Dorsey. 

YouTube celebrities also joined in, including the personalities Guava Juice, Mark Rober, Marques Brownlee, Smarter Every Day, Ninja and more, according to the Verge. Many participating YouTube channels have well over 1 million followers. Even more publicity came from Donaldson’s activism, as well as promotions on shows like Jimmy Kimmel that made the #TeamTrees campaign one of the quickest and most effective environmental fundraisers.  

Videos uploaded to YouTube with the tag #TeamTrees were able to attract more viewers and trend longer with the designation of a charity initiative attached to the video. 

Although the fundraiser began as a joke that spammed Donaldson’s social media feeds, he and other prominent YouTubers turned it into a serious initiative. The Verge reports that Donaldson said, “We wanted to show that YouTube isn’t just a drama fest,” and that, “We actually have real influence and can make real change.”

The trees are slated to be planted starting in January 2020 with a deadline of December 2022 on both public and private lands. 

Published on Dec 20, 2019