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Special Project

Special Project
From the 8th Annual Shorty Impact Awards

The Climate Translator

Entered in Nonprofit


The majority of Americans (78%) are concerned about climate change (Nature, 2022). But many people feel too overwhelmed to take action. Climate solutions exist – including huge financial incentives to help people switch to clean energy in their homes and communities – but most Americans don’t understand them or know how to access them.  

That’s where the Climate Translator comes in. Comedian David Perdue created this idea for a short-form video series in which a comedian “translates” for a wonky scientist talking about climate – and climate solutions – using language that regular people can understand. Research shows that comedy is uniquely persuasive and attention-getting when it comes to serious issues like the climate crisis; comedy can help evoke feelings of hope, combat climate doom, and boost engagement. David conceived of the Climate Translator idea while participating in the 2022 Climate Comedy Cohort fellowship, a program of Generation180 and GoodLaugh at American University’s Center for Media and Social Impact.

The goals of this video series were to: 1) use humor to garner attention about climate change and the Inflation Reduction Act, sparking people’s interest to learn more, and 2) reach and engage audiences that are most concerned about climate change, but may not be taking action. More specifically, our objectives were to achieve at least 75,000 video views among our target audience (identified as environmentalists, progressive comedy fans, fans of charities and nonprofits, and people with an interest in charity and fundraising) -- with a click-through rate (to our landing page) that met industry standards.

Strategy and Execution

To reach our goals, we used a two-fold strategy: Engaging comedians as unexpected "clean energy ambassadors" and compelling  characters in a video series, and 2) securing a distribution partner to boost our audience reach. 

Comedian David Perdue first described the idea in spring 2022 during a Climate Comedy Cohort workshop, and the Generation180 team offered to co-create and produce it. That summer, the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) was adopted into law – the most important and largest climate investment in U.S. history – and it unlocked millions of dollars in benefits for households and communities. Generation180 and David felt that everyday people would need help understanding these benefits. Research from Potential Energy Coalition confirms that only 10% of Americans know about the IRA. 

Our team brainstormed concepts in the IRA and ways to make them more accessible through humor. The result: a series of 3  videos (plus one "extra" video) about the new federal climate law that “translates” what's important in the law to Americans. Our plan of action was to launch this series of 30-60 second videos in April 2023 via Instagram, where Gen180’s target audience is most active and growing and where they can be shared and promoted easily. David chose two local collaborators: CoolCoolCool Productions – an Atlanta-based video company and majority black-owned business – and Jonathon Pawlowski, a Georgia-based actor, comedian, and editor. 

We wanted to reach as many people as possible, but faced two challenges: 1) a tight budget of $12,000 to spend on both production and promotion; and 2) as a small non-profit and relatively new organization (founded in 2016), Generation180 lacked enough name recognition to attract large audiences. We knew we needed a distribution partner to help boost our reach, but had trouble finding one. 

After a few months of searching, a contact put us in touch with Footprint Coalition, Robert Downey Jr.’s climate-focused nonprofit, which has approximately 114,000 Instagram followers. They offered to co-release the video series with us as collaborators via Instagram. 

Our digital strategy was to maximize exposure of our campaign videos through this partnership as well as social advertising and organic media – while also using this opportunity to drive new email sign ups. On Facebook, we targeted two groups of people: 1) A lookalike audience modeled after our most engaged email list members, and 2) Individuals with an interest in progressive comedy, activism, nonprofits/fundraising/donations, philanthropy, and electric vehicles.  On YouTube, we targeted 3 groups:  people interested in the environment and climate change, people interested in charity and giving, and people interested in progressive comedy.


The Climate Translator video series achieved the following results between April to September 2023:

We consider this effort a success for a few reasons:


Video for The Climate Translator

Entrant Company / Organization Name

Generation180, a joint plan of work with Virginia Organizing


Entry Credits