The non-profit Harry Potter Alliance (HPA) is known for its charity drives, but at the moment, perhaps the most noteworthy thing about it is not the non-profit fundraising, but the methods. HPA may be one of the most brilliant marketers on the planet—and now that they’ve called on Internet celebrities to help them in their latest campaign, everyone’s winning.
Contributors to HPA’s Equality For the Win campaign, an Indiegogo drive to fund the organization’s work in the areas of economic, educational, and LGBTQ equality, could win signed copies of JK Rowling’s Harry Potter series. But the bigger draw for this charity event indicates just how well the HPA knows its home base: They’re offering free fanfiction written by Young Adult professionals and celebrity YouTubers.
The strategy is working: with just over 36 hours left in the campaign, they’re over their $100,000 goal by $45,000.
HPA came to life when founder Andrew Slack had a vision of using people’s emotional connection to Harry Potter to encourage them to create a better world. HPA has strong ties to John and Hank Green and their Nerdfighters movement, a similar uniting of fandom with social activism. HPA and the Green brothers’ Project for Awesome have collaborated before, but as the Greens’ online family grows, so does the overlap between various interconnected fandoms. This year’s HPA Equality fund drive features contributions from musical theatre star Anthony Rapp, Team Starkid, and Young Adult author Maureen Johnson.
Oh, and what’s Johnson doing? Writing Sherlock fanfiction. Sort of. If the preview she shared on her blog yesterday is any indication, it’s a crossover with John Green as the protagonist and Benedict Cumberbatch as, well, Sherlock, the character he plays on the BBC’s hit series:
The day John Green realized Benedict Cumberbatch was hiding in his house was the day his collection of Nicholas Sparks novels spontaneously fell off the bookcase in his office. This surprised him. What surprised him more was that there was a face, shelf high, now clearly visible in the spot where the books had been.
It was the face of Benedict Cumberbatch.
“Who are you?” Cumberbatch said, Cumberbatchly.
“I’m John Green,” said John Green.
“Clearly an alias. Let’s see who you are really.” Benedict Cumberbatch touched his hands together in prayer formation, and touched them lightly to his lips.
Green’s Vlogbrother, Hank, also makes an appearance (his hot tub is the shape of Science itself). And to get more of this hilarity, of course you have to donate, which makes for pretty savvy marketing.
And Johnson’s not alone—Hank Green is also writing fanfiction, of the Harry Potter variety. Though we haven’t seen a preview, it sounds pretty gutsy for a fanfic.
Titled “The Womb of Requirement,” it’s apparently about a Victorian-age teen mom who gives birth at Hogwarts. Green adds: “It’s about love and comfort and society and isolation and I think it does a great job of explaining the unexplainable mystery of the Room.”
Meanwhile, John Green is writing “fan”-fic of his own acclaimed novel, The Fault in Our Stars. It’s kinda complicated:
John Green will be providing us with an exclusive excerpt from THE PRICE OF DAWN: the book Augustus gives to Hazel in The Fault in Our Stars. THE PRICE OF DAWN is the novelization of a video game starring Staff Sergeant Max Mayhem. That’s right, it’s a fictional novel based on a fictional video game, all of which exists inside John Green’s bestselling work of fiction, The Fault in Our Stars. But now it’s REAL and it will be sent to you as a downloadable PDF.
Okay, so this probably doesn’t count as fanfic, but it’s still really cool.
More than 600 people have snagged copies of the fanfic offerings, and close to 500 more have nabbed the Fault in Our Stars sequel.
The fact that all of this is happening in a charity where JK Rowling herself is also donating perks illustrates how fully the Harry Potter franchise has embraced fanfiction and remix culture, and how comfortable the HPA is drawing on those elements of fandom for support.
It’s not the first time that fandom, specifically Harry Potter fandom, has drawn on fanworks for charity. During the Haiti earthquake disaster, HPA helped run a massively organized fandom charity campaign. One arm of that campaign, help-haiti on LiveJournal, raised $115,000 largely based on fans donating fanworks to each other in exchange for charity donations.
Now, in an era where many fans are still cringing at the thought of their fanwork being out in the open, much less being offered up for monetary exchange, there’s something refreshing about seeing it happening right under the nose of one of the world’s most famous authors, openly and with her consent.
Getting Johnson and the Green brothers involved in the bargain is a happy bonus.
Photo via leeannxlove/deviantART