How a Youtube Star Raised $2 Million For Somalia in 10 Days...
By Ivy Kuo, Legends Report Writer
“This is the story of what can happen when the power of social media is leveraged for something good.”
This is how vlogger Casey Neistat started off his fundraising YouTube video; and indeed, such a story will follow.
Successful people are in the position to use their influence to create positive social change; whether it’s helping one person or thousands, anyone can make a difference by joining forces with those around them.
YouTube celebrity Casey Neistat, Vine star Jérôme Jarre, and actor Ben Stiller recently joined forces to raise money for the severe drought and famine in Somalia, which has threatened 6 million people - half the country’s population! By utilising their masses of fans, they used their social media influence to feed and give relief to thousands of Somalians in need.
How it Happened
It all started when Mr. Jarre was scrolling through his feed, when he saw an article about the severe drought and famine in Somalia, a grim story that has been eclipsed by other news cycles in Western media. He read up on Somalia’s state of crisis, and was shocked at how little this urgent issue had been covered in the news. He then immediately concocted the idea to get an airplane to fly to Somalia, and distribute food and relief supplies.
After googling flights, Mr. Jarre discovered that Turkish Airlines is the only airline that flies to Somalia. He immediately started off the social media awareness campaign by posting a video on Twitter asking the airline for help and created the hashtag #TurkishAirlinesHelpSomalia, which started trending.
?MAINSTREAM MEDIA WON'T TALK ABOUT IT !!!
— JÉRÔME JARRE (@jeromejarre) March 15, 2017
“There are 20 million people in East Africa who have no more food, no more livestock, and who are going through the worst famine... But what if we could find an airplane, and we filled it with food and water and sent it to Somalia?”
Though some may view Mr. Jarre’s efforts as naive, he knew that he could utilise his connections, as well as his fanbase, to make a real difference. Mr. Jarre texted his friend, actor Ben Stiller, to see if he’d like to help document the process of flying to Somalia, and the very next day, Mr. Stiller flew to New York City to meet with him. Other social media influencers and everyday social media influencers rallied around the cause with the #TurkishAirlinesHelpSomalia hashtag.
This small group of celebrities has given Turkish Airlines “the opportunity to do something amazing,” as Mr. Jarre put it. After a Skype call with an executive, not only did Turkish Airlines agreed to donate 60 tons of space to fill with food and relief, but they will be shipping food containers on their commercial aircraft until the end of the famine.
“[I have] no idea what their cost could be,”
Mr. Neistat said of Turkish Airlines.
“That is a tremendous amount of resources to give an entire cargo plane, and then plane after plane, with extra cargo space, to bring relief.”
While Turkish Airlines generously agreed to lend their aircraft space, it was up to Mr. Jarre and his friends to raise money to fill the aircraft with food and relief supplies. Jerome set up a digital fundraiser on GoFundme, which raised over 2 million US dollars in the first 10 days, over double the original goal!
“This thing just got real!”
Said Mr. Neistat in his video, clearly ecstatic at the momentum behind this movement.
“There was an idea, and then a tweet, and then the tweet turned into a movement, which became something else, that has now become action.”
Collaboration For a Meaningful Cause
This story is one of ultimate collaboration and teamwork amongst a group of friends who believed they could make a difference. Mr. Jarre saw the problem, raised awareness through his 1.3+ million Twitter followers, and connected his resources. Mr. Stiller offered his charity, Stiller Foundation, to receive and manage the donated funds, and Mr. Neistat has created this fundraising video urging his 6+ million subscribers to donate.
What inspires me most about this story isn’t just the three celebrities who wanted to help solve a humanitarian crisis on the other side of the globe, but it’s about how they pooled together their connections, resources, and their large following to actually devise a solution, immediately after identifying the problem. How many times do we dwell on our own desires to create change, but never actually follow through? How many times have we thought that you or I, as one single person, cannot possibly make a difference in a world this large?
Here is a small insight into the results...
"FAMINE" HAS A NAME,
HER NAME IS MUNA ❤️
SHE IS 5 YEARS OLD. pic.twitter.com/xMiwcOQmCs
— JÉRÔME JARRE (@jeromejarre) March 27, 2017
Mr. Jarre clearly proved that it only takes one person’s voice, and one person’s vision, to inspire those around him to do the same. While you may not have a social media following of millions as he does, you do have a strong influence with your friends, family, and colleagues. So the next time that you see something in the news that bothers you, or you ponder over an action you want to take to help others, share it with those around you. It’s during these moments of sharing ideas that brilliant projects are born, such as this very successful social media campaign and fundraiser.