Collectively, humanity has spent more time watching Gangnam Style than it would take to build more than 20 Empire State buildings, four Great Pyramids of Giza, or another Wikipedia. If we’re going to be online anyway–the average American spends 20 hours a month watching videos on sites like YouTube–how much of that addiction can be channeled into doing good?
The annual DoGooder Awards, open for voting through March 3, honors the funniest or most tear-jerking videos made to raise money or awareness for social causes. Some are educational, like this compilation of history’s worst contraceptives (sorry, ladies, strapping weasel testicles to your thigh won’t help you avoid pregnancy):
This video shows Syrian volunteers as they rescue a newborn from a bombed-out building:
Most of the nonprofit finalists aren’t particularly creative, like this lengthy Between Two Ferns homage. An animal rights video started in a provocative way, inviting humans to step in cramped cages on the street, but ended with sad-but-predictable photos of factory farms. If anything, the contest points out the fact that social causes need more creative talent (to be fair, last year’s winners were pretty good).
But the contest also makes it clear how much power the biggest YouTube stars really have. This year, a new award category honors successful video creators who’ve used their popularity for good. When someone like Felix Kjellberg–a.k.a. PewDiePie, the Swedish 25-year-old with more YouTube subscribers than anyone else on the planet–makes a video to support a cause, it works. Last year, Kjellberg raised $600,000 for Save the Children with a single video. Others, like finalist Francesca Ramsey, who is behind Shit White Girls Say…To Black Girls, make social issues a fundamental part of their work.
Instead of struggling to make viral videos themselves, maybe more nonprofits should be partnering with video creators who already know how to get it right.