Author John Green has gotten a lot of attention for his heart-wrenching novel The Fault in Our Stars, the bestselling young-adult-novel-turned-blockbuster-movie about two young cancer patients who meet in a support group. But most fans who only know of Green for this reason aren’t aware of his philanthropic efforts, in which he leverages his large social media following and YouTube fan base. His charitable fundraisers have been geared at everything from cancer to censorship to malaria, but now he’s tackling clean water with the help of Bill Gates.
Green’s biggest fans call themselves “Nerdfighters,” those whose goal in life is to, in Green’s words, “decrease world suck,” and Gates seems to have joined the bandwagon, pledging to match the $100,000 Green hopes to raise through “nerdfighteria.”
Green traveled to Ethiopia with the Gates Foundation earlier this year and documented the trip in his weekly YouTube video, saying that “with 80% of people living in rural areas,” the need for clean water in health care centers was vital. He also raved about the impression that Gates and his foundation’s CEO Susan Desmond-Hellmann left on him.
“To be honest… I kind of assumed that Bill and Sue were visiting Ethiopia for, like, a photo op,” he says in one of his videos. “But they were there to ask questions, and lots of them…and watching Bill and Sue gravitate away from cameras and toward health workers, it became clear to me that the Gates Foundation fundamental principle that all human lives have equal value isn’t just rhetoric.”
Green and Gates seem to be quite the power duo, with Green writing on Gates’ blog: “My visit to Ethiopia wasn’t sad—at least not merely so. It was invigorating and encouraging. And sad. … But we shouldn’t look away or feel discouraged. We should get to work.”
As of Monday afternoon, Green’s donation page was raising more than $1,000 every 30 minutes. Watch one of his videos about his trip below.