First Nations Development Institute President Michael Roberts found out the organization was getting $36,000 from a well-known TikTok creator when his 17-year-old daughter came running down the hallway with her phone in hand.

“She said, ‘Have you seen this? This is the coolest thing!’” Roberts said.

The video she showed him was from Hank Green’s TikTok account.

Green is an author, video creator, science communicator and musician who has amassed more than 4 million followers on TikTok, where he posts videos about the origin of chin dimples, why ice cubes can form spikes and whether the ocean is soup.

TikTok creators can make money through the app’s creator fund, and Green initially asked his followers to vote on which charity should receive his first $1,000 in earnings. Green’s followers chose the Longmont-based First Nations Development Institute, which works to better Native American communities through economic development, grant-making and programs that focus on health, land stewardship, tribal and community institutions, young people, financial empowerment and asset-building.

On April 4, Green posted a video announcing that by watching his videos, his followers had raised nearly $36,000 for the First Nations Development Institute.

“We have a few thousand individual donors who make up about 15 to 20% of our annual budget. To have a donor that gives us more than a few hundred dollars is a little bit unusual,” Roberts said.

While First Nations has granted more than $50 million to over 2,000 organizations since it began in 1993, Roberts said Green’s philanthropy serves as a much-needed spotlight on Native causes. In the United States, a small fraction of private philanthropy is directed toward Native American organizations.

It’s also gratifying for Roberts to see the connection between his family, their culture and a celebrity — and it’s earned him a few cool points with his daughter.

“She very much identifies with the work we do for Native folks because she’s Native herself, and for her to have one of her favorite influencers acknowledge that we’re doing cool work and sharing that with his fanbase is pretty great,” he said.

First Nations staff haven’t decided yet how to use the TikTok donation, Roberts said, but it will likely go to a Native youth and culture program.

“It feels like a natural fit for this,” Roberts said.