How you can establish a library through Room to Read for hundreds of girls… in 33 minutes

Posted on October 01, 2012, by Taylor Conroy, Room to Read

This is the first time in history that it's possible for you to effect so much change, in so little time (as little as 33 minutes to be exact). My hands are shaking with excitement just writing about how the fundraising platform we've been building for the last 18 months will be used. With it, we'll be able to support thousands of girls -- just like the courageous girls featured in Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide.


The campaigns use a simple formula: one person (you) gets 33 friends to give $3.33 a day for 3 months (the price of a coffee a day). To do this, you sign up on, make a list of your friends, and record a 30-second introduction video for each of them. Our website stitches together your introductions with a three-minute animation explaining the project. We send out the message and you raise $10,000. It's that simple.

All of the money raised goes to Room to Read, a featured NGO in Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide.

A group of students pose for a photo outside a Room to Read school. 

We call our platform 'Change Heroes' because we believe everyone has a hero inside them waiting to change the world. In its test phase alone, the platform raised roughly $300,000, which was used to empower over 30,000 children in Nepal, India, Kenya, Sierra Leone, and Tanzania. Going forward, Change Heroes will enable anyone to run a $10,000 campaign.

Preparing the campaign can take as little as 33 minutes, and on the high end, three hours, which is still a small amount of time to make a huge impact. Establishing a library includes filling it with 1000+ books, educational games, child-sized furniture, and creating a fun, colorful space for children to learn to read. Each library will empower roughly 400 children, half of which will be girls. 

The $10,000 total also includes secondary school tuition for 20 girls, and covers the cost of uniforms, shoes, transportation to and from school, books, study guides, and, most importantly, the mentorship and training they need to make key life decisions. The curriculum isn't just some math and science -- it includes vocational training and education in finance. This education initiative can allow these children to move out of the cycle of poverty.

We came up with our formula based on two years of research on what makes people give (in a fun, happy, excited way). We determined the key factors to be:  

  • A strong, personal connection
  • A feeling of group collaboration
  • Micro-donation amounts
  • Peer recognition
  • A solid tangible outcome that donors see with their own eyes 

Once we had the formula, we applied all five motivators of giving into a three-minute animated video. The video tells potential donors (your 33 friends) everything they need to know about the project: where the library will be built, who will build it, who will learn in it, and that it will only cost the price of a large coffe a day for three months. Finally, the video ensures viewers they will receive recognition and see photos of the library when it's complete. 

In your 30-second videos, you tell your friends why you're excited about building a library and supporting the education of girls and ask them to watch the animated video that follows. Our website then sends your intro video and our animated video to each of your friends.

My hands are still shaking and tears well up in my eyes at the sheer thought of being even a small part of this movement. I'm so grateful to be involved in creating a tool for people who are moved by the Half the Sky Movement, and giving them the ability to take action that will result in a real tangible difference that will empower hundreds of children. And… that you can do all of this, today.

Check out and follow them on Twitter (@ChangeHeroes) to learn more.