It started out, author Patrick Ness said, as a small thing on his fundraising page.
In fact, it started out as quite a big thing: on Thursday morning U.K. author Ness (A Monster Calls) offered to match up to £10,000 in donations to Save the Children for its Syrian Refugee Crisis Appeal, because he was “tired of just tweeting my despair about the current refugee crisis that the U.K. government is responding to with inhumane feebleness." His generosity--and his dismay--struck a chord.
Within two hours, donations had reached £10,000. John Green stepped in and offered to match the next £10,000. Half way to that goal, Derek Landy did the same. As the £20,000 was reached U.K. news outlets reported that an anonymous donor, simply named Marie, gave £10,000, bringing the total to £30,000, and calling in Landy's promise. "Marie" has now revealed herself as author Marie Lu. For the next £10,000 of matchfunding, Jojo Moyes came forward.
With £40,000 pledged, and matchfunding to double it, things got complicated. As the total continued to climb, two more anonymous donors each paid in £10,000 ("Russell"--known to Ness--and an unnamed giver). U.S. author Hank Green offered another £10,000 of matchfunding. And his compatriot Rainbow Rowell, with the help of Jenny Han, mustered a consortium of fellow writers to match another £10,000. They were: Brendan Reichs, Ally Carter, Margaret Stohl, Shannon Hale, Siobhan Vivian, Richelle Mead, Gayle Forman, Ransom Riggs and Tahereh Mafi. For every $1,000 raised, Rowell sorted each of the characters in her books into a Hogwarts house.
Then a group of mostly U.S. West Coast writers banded together to match another £10,000. They were Margaret Stohl, Melissa de la Cruz, Sabaa Tahir, Leigh Bardugo, Lauren DeStefano, Pseudonymous Bosch, David Levithan, Libba Bray, Lauren Oliver, Jacqueline Woodson, Alexandra Bracken, I.W. Gregorio, and Stacey Lee. And Maureen Johnson, who gave bespoke nicknames to everyone who donated on her timeline.
Louisa Young has now volunteered to make the total up to £200,000 if it reaches £195,000. And Virgin Money Giving, a non-profit which normally takes a 2% cut to cover costs, will waive the fee (worth £5,000) if the total reaches £250,000.
A version of this story originally appeared in the U.K. publication, BookBrunch.