One of YouTube’s biggest influencers, Sean “Jacksepticeye” McLoughlin, is taking on one of the world’s biggest problems, homelessness, in this year’s edition of what’s becoming an annual charity fundraiser he calls Thankmas.
“It’s a new story (for Thankmas) this year, (helping) people facing homelessness,” said McLoughlin. “It’s one of those topics I always wanted to try to tackle. It’s not like (solutions are) one size fits all. At the end of this year and last year, there’s been a lot of turmoil in people’s lives. The people who are going through it are being hit even harder by the pandemic. So we’re trying to open that door.”
The campaign will benefit New Story, an organization that’s using new approaches such as 3D-printed houses and micro mortgages to provide low-cost shelter to the needy around the world.
New Story already has built more than 2,300 houses in 21 communities in El Salvador, Haiti, Bolivia, and Mexico, provided to families surviving with less than $10 a day. The organization estimates more than 1.6 billion people worldwide lack adequate housing.
The actual fundraising campaign will run between Dec. 1 and Dec. 13 for anyone who streams content on YouTube, Twitch, Facebook or TikTok. McLoughlin’s own campaign will begin Dec. 11, with a goal to raise up to $10 million, enough to build homes for 1,000 families in 10 communities.
“My father passed earlier this year, and it got me thinking about what’s important, what I’m spending my life on,” McLoughlin said. “I think a lot of creators get lost in that treadmill of what YouTube is. They feel they’re constantly treading water (posting content to keep up with algorithm demands). I’ve been taking time away to test those waters” for the fundraiser.
As he did last year in a Thankmas campaign that raised nearly $5 million for the U.K.’s Red Nose Day charity, McLoughlin is working with Tiltify, a site that provides tools for create and administer fundraisers, ensure money goes where it supposed to, and allow participants to create their own mini-campaigns within a bigger effort. The campaign is being co-produced by Real Good Touring, which runs large digital events.
For his own part of the campaign, McLoughlin will provide tiers of rewards, such as special quarterly videos, to donors to the campaign. The top five fundraisers will be invited on an expenses-paid “vision trip” to visit one of the communities being built in Latin America.
“Heading into the holidays, following the aftermath of a global pandemic, I wanted to set high, yet achievable goals for my annual Thankmas event to encourage everyone to get involved with New Story to help end global homelessness,” McLoughlin said. “This organization allows us to give back to families around the world who cannot secure adequate housing. Working with Tiltify makes it possible for us to bring together the global community to spread awareness and make the biggest impact possible for those in need.”
The Irish-born, London-based McLoughlin has more than 27 million followers on YouTube after nearly a decade of posting content on the platform and working as an esports and game commentator. In recent years, McLoughlin has been taking part in various charity efforts, including a big fundraiser early in the pandemic to support people initially hurt by its impacts. He eventually evolved what he now calls Thankmas as a way to create an annual holiday giving tradition with his followers.
McLoughlin also has been reaching out to get other notable influencers involved in the effort, tapping his own relationships in the industry and beyond. That started to pay dividends last year as a few dozen more influencers take the Thankmas idea and run their own charity efforts. He hopes even more influencers will join in this year.
“The moniker of Thankmas has been around for three or four years, but last year people got it,” McLoughlin said. “Other creators have started to take up the mantle separate from me, which is wonderful.”