When imagining people pushing themselves to the limit as part of a fundraising campaign, this would have traditionally involved some sort of physical feat—like the climbing of a mountain or the completion of a marathon.
In the digital age of 2022, however, endurance feats can look very different.
Gaming has forged its own little niche within the world of charity fundraising, and players of all ages and abilities run fundraising campaigns on behalf of their favourite charities.
Commonly, the person raising money pledges to play a particular game for a period of time—this can, sometimes, be days at a time. They livestream their game play and actively comment on their actions as they tackle virtual bad guys, or whatever other premise their chosen video game involves. Alternatively, funds raised may be connected to the scores players achieve…for every 1000 points, donors pledge £25, for example.
Donors tune in and out of the livestreamed game play at their leisure and they can give their money at any time. Some of the people within the gaming community that run fundraisers have large followings; their fans are often happy to donate to the cause their ‘hero’ is supporting, even if they may know nothing about the recipient charity.
GuardianCon is a two-day convention for gamers that takes place in Florida. The week before the convention, a seven-day gaming marathon occurs, which raises money for a local cause: St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital. In 2019, through the gaming marathon and the convention, a total of $3.7m was raised, and the campaign runs every year.
Another significant gaming fundraiser is Jingle Jam, which takes place over a fortnight in various different countries. Twelve different charities are chosen, and donors can choose which one they wish to support. More than £2m was raised through the event in 2020, and it has raised more than $20m overall since its incarnation. GameBlast is one of the UK’s biggest annual fundraisers. The money it raises over its active weekend supports people with disabilities to play games. GameBlast is not one event but a collection of smaller events held across the UK that raise money through gaming under its umbrella. In 2020 it raised more than £150,000.
It doesn’t matter if your cause is nothing at all to do with gaming or technology, you can still collaborate with this community to hold a fundraiser. Typical donors engaging with a gaming fundraiser/tournament are fans of video games and the people playing them—in some ways, the chosen charity is irrelevant. It makes financial sense to engage one of the better-known gamers to raise funds on your behalf if you’re able to—simply because they have larger followings and networks, which will likely maximise the amount raised.
Alternatively, you could focus on your own network and staff and encourage them to use gaming in their fundraising plans. Plenty of people, old and young, enjoy playing video games, and it’s no less of a creative idea than any other fundraising suggestion. Even if the gamers you enlist from your circle are all amateurs, if you emphasise that it’s just a bit of fun, that it’s something different, and that you’re simply focused on getting people involved, you will likely still raise money and have a lot of fun in the process. Remember: the livestream element is essential with this sort of activity, so employ a videographer to capture the event as it unfolds.
Some smaller charities can find it difficult to engage the next generation. It’s vital that the cog keeps turning in charities and that all the hard work and dedication of the founder doesn’t simply die out with them; ensuring an organisation’s longevity should be part of its overall strategy and long-term planning. Hosting a gaming marathon or similar challenge is a fantastic way to close the gap between young and old and to reduce the disconnect between your charity and the next generation of donors/fundraisers/volunteers.
Digital fundraising campaigns and ideas have proved more popular over the last couple of years, even by good causes that never thought they’d entertain them—due to the pandemic and its lockdowns. When it was against social distancing regulations to get together in person, fundraisers turned to the online world to drum up donor income. Digital fundraising events and campaigns also have the potential to reach a much wider audience than offline events; people from all over the world can get involved and donate their money.
If gaming fundraisers have not been on your radar before, in terms of your fundraising strategy, perhaps you should begin to consider them. As a way of introducing your cause to the next generation and engaging a growing community (gamers) across the world, it’s difficult to see a downside to running such an event.
If you’d like help forming a fundraising strategy, give me a call on 0114 350 3354 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.