People will question your credibility, even if you know how good your intentions are: We have gotten a swarm of messages from Instagram followers asking us to prove to them we have donated or ask if we are legitimate. This is understandable, so now we know that proof is something our followers and supporters want to see, which we have been doing.
As part of my series about young people who are making an important social impact”, I had the pleasure of interviewing twins Jack and Kate Adler, founders of the 3 Dollar Challenge.
Jack and Kate Adler are 19-year-old twins from Villanova, Pennsylvania who founded the 3 Dollar Challenge (3DC) in summer 2020. 3DC is a grassroots philanthropic initiative that aims to raise money for various causes through small monetary donations (3 dollars), making it possible and accessible for anyone to help support charitable causes, and be part of a community of social change agents who are making a difference.
The twins leverage their entrepreneurial spirit and online social networks to reach an extended audience of like-minded emerging leaders who care about supporting important, timely charitable causes. Jack is currently a student at Syracuse University’s Whitman School of Management, and Kate is a student at University of Miami’s Herbert Business School.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would like to get to know you a bit. Can you tell us a bit how you grew up?
We grew up in Blue Bell, Pennsylvania, a suburb of Philadelphia. We went to school in the Wissahickon School District until 9th grade. After our parents divorced, we moved in with our mom and stepfather’s family in Villanova, PA, where we attended Harriton High School. We had an amazing academic experience and loving family and friends that led us to where we are today. Currently, Jack is a sophomore at Syracuse University and Kate is a sophomore at the University of Miami. We’re both in the business school!
You are currently leading an organization that aims to make a social impact. Can you tell us a bit about what you and your organization are trying to change in our world today?
The 3 Dollar Challenge aims to assist causes that need more attention from our community. We strive to engage our generation and beyond through social media by collecting 3 dollars donations from as many people as possible. Our goal is to show that a little amount of good from a lot of people makes a huge difference. We unite people through social media to spread awareness and raise money for causes such as COVID-19, Racial Justice, and most recently, Mental Wellness/Suicide Prevention.
Can you tell us the backstory about what inspired you to originally feel passionate about this cause?
Now, more than ever, suicide is an extremely prevalent cause in society. We were inspired to start this campaign after learning that one in four people between ages 18–24 reported experiencing serious suicidal thoughts during the pandemic. Most of our generation is struggling and few are openly talking about it. We started talking with hopes of spreading awareness for this cause. Based on our first campaign, we knew that we could make a difference and maybe through raising awareness and money, we could save just one person.
Many of us have ideas, dreams, and passions, but never manifest it. They don’t get up and just do it. But you did. Was there an “Aha Moment” that made you decide that you were actually going to step up and do it? What was that final trigger?
Our “Aha Moment” was seeing celebrities from all around the nation come together for Michael Rubin’s “All-In Challenge”. It was inspiring to see these influencers use their platforms to support a good cause. It made us question the way in which ordinary people can make a difference. The answer was by uniting a large number of people to contribute to one goal. The rest is “our” history!
Many young people don’t know the steps to take to start a new organization. But you did. What are some of the things or steps you took to get your project started?
The main thing we did to get the 3 Dollar Challenge started was we shared the idea with some friends to make sure it was feasible, then we spoke with some advisers that offered insight into how we could execute the plan. From there, we enlisted college ambassadors to create a network. That gave us the mass we needed to launch the movement. We created a video explaining the purpose of the 3 Dollar Challenge along with the steps to participate. We announced the launch time and date to our team so that they would be ready to participate right when we launched. The 3 Dollar Challenge went viral on social media, bringing in hundreds of donations and posts by the minute.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company or organization?
About one week into the original Challenge, we received an Instagram direct message from Keith Williams, one of the child actors in the movie Good Boys. He asked if he could get involved in the challenge and help spread awareness to his 62,000 followers. We asked him how he heard about the 3 Dollar Challenge, and he told us he saw it on the explore page on Instagram! It was fascinating to see the reach our challenge had on social media. Keith and his brother worked closely with us throughout the remainder of the COVID-19 campaign and were extremely helpful and supportive.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson or take away you learned from that?
In our original campaign, we collected donations through Venmo. Although it was not funny, we ran into an issue when someone attempted to create a duplicate Venmo account to steal donations from us. While this wasn’t necessarily a mistake on our part, we did take away a valuable lesson from it — it is important to stay on top of all donations and any suspicion that someone is trying to impersonate us.
None of us can be successful without some help along the way. Did you have mentors or cheerleaders who helped you to succeed? Can you tell us a story about their influence?
We have many mentors and cheerleaders who help us succeed every day. Our mom and stepdad, our friends, classmates, and professors help us on a daily basis. They help us keep up the momentum by sharing our successes, giving us new ideas, and spreading the word. Our professors at Syracuse University and University of Miami provide advice about how to market the challenge and expand it to new demographics.
Can you tell us a story about a particular individual who was impacted or helped by your cause?
For our suicide prevention and mental wellness challenge, we were met with many stories of people directly impacted by this cause. When we reached out to fraternities and sororities around the country, a few of them responded saying they had recently lost a member to suicide and they were grateful that we were raising money for the cause. In fact, one person who participated in the challenge thanked us, saying he was on the brink of committing suicide a couple years ago, and knows it is something that needs to be spoken about more. The 3 Dollar Challenge has the potential to impact hundreds of thousands of people which is what inspires us to continue to grow.
Are there three things the community/society/politicians can do to help you address the root of the problem you are trying to solve?
The one important thing people can do is care for each other. We’ve learned a lot while working with The Reflect Organization, and one of those things is that just one caring person can help change or even save a life. Make sure to always check in on your loved ones because you never know what’s going on inside their heads. Make sure they know how loved they are. Another thing the community can do to address the root of the problem is learn about mental health. Education will cause the community to understand what people are going through and how to help. Lastly, get involved in your community and extracurriculars because this will help expand your network and support system and make lasting connections.
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.
Going into this, we were inexperienced in philanthropy and did not know what it was like raising money for charity. Our little knowledge made the experience that much more special for us, as we’ve been able to learn so much and grow along the way. Here are the 5 things we wish someone had told us when we first started:
- People will question your credibility, even if you know how good your intentions are: We have gotten a swarm of messages from Instagram followers asking us to prove to them we have donated or ask if we are legitimate. This is understandable, so now we know that proof is something our followers and supporters want to see, which we have been doing.
- Fundraisers last a long time, and sustainability is challenging: we thought we could keep the momentum going by just having everyone tag 3 people, but the challenge is that some people are reluctant to keep it going, which breaks the chain. Eventually, we needed to keep reaching out to more people to participate instead of relying on the exponential chain.
- The number of people who will support you on your endeavor is endless! We are in awe of the number of friends, professors, mentors, and individuals who have stepped up to the challenge and have grown the 3 Dollar Challenge to what it has become.
- Givebutter is an amazing platform to use for small donations: After originally using Venmo, we began using Givebutter (Givebutter.com/3dc) which is easy to use, accessible, and efficient for the donations coming in.
- Everyone can make a difference: A single 3 dollars can change the world when an entire community and generation is coming together for a cause. It does not take a large amount of money or a strenuous task to do good.
If you could tell other young people one thing about why they should consider making a positive impact on our environment or society, like you, what would you tell them?
You’re never too young to help change the world. It’s easy to feel like a lot of the people making a difference in the world have an influential status or a lot of money to spend, but realistically, anyone has the power to use their voice and make an impact.
Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would like to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. 🙂
Gary Vaynerchuk was our main inspiration to start the 3 Dollar Challenge. He was constantly putting out content urging his audience to do something with their time in quarantine. We took this to heart and knew we wanted to find a way to make a difference in some way. We would love to have a private meal with Gary V to thank him for his inspiration and hear if he has any ideas for ways we can continue to expand on the 3 Dollar Challenge.
How can our readers follow you online?
You can follow us on Instagram at @3dollarchallenge and you can donate at givebutter.com/3dc
This was very meaningful, thank you so much. We wish you only continued success on your great work!