By now, you likely are tired of asking people for money and seeking a better way to gain individual supporters. You probably also feel that the need for fundraising keeps you away from carrying out the mission you created for your nonprofit. Imagine, then, shifting the conversation from “can you donate money to my charity?” to “will you play this game with me to help support my charity?” Think about how different it feels to ask for participation rather than money, and for someone to be able to support a cause simply by playing a game.
In this Q&A, we discuss how the power of games is transforming the nonprofit space and providing possible solutions to the daunting challenges of fundraising.
Q: I know nothing about gaming. What is the industry all about?
Amazingly, some 2.5 billion people play games every day--from Candy Rush and Farmville to Fortnite and Minecraft. As a whole, it is roughly a $150 billion industry.* Of that, $367 million is given in charitable contributions, representing only 0.25% of the global gaming market. We can do better.^ What’s more, Esports is the newest craze. Players compete in various gaming tournaments and events that have hundreds of millions of viewers and award millions of dollars in cash prizes to the winning teams.
Q: How are games being used for social impact and nonprofit development?
Games are being used every day to create real change. The two main applications are in learning and engagement. There are serious games that teach about social challenges from animal cruelty to climate action to women’s health by organizations like GRID (Gaming Revolution for International Development) and 4GoodGames. On the other side, sometimes referred to as gamification, are programs strategically designed to motivate behavior change and/or increase community engagement--benefiting users individually and collectively. One example is Pain Squad, an app that allows young cancer patients to track the intensity of their pain, how long it lasts and where it occurs through a crime-fighting game. This helps doctors more-effectively administer pain medication. Another is The Good Cards, a real-life game for doing good. Users receive Good Cards with various kindness missions, input a story once completed and track the individual and community actions as each act creates a ripple effect worldwide.
Q: What about raising funds and awareness?
That’s where Charity Esports comes in. It’s as easy as a mobile game. Groups sign up, create a team and pick a nonprofit to play for--sometimes even their own. FunFunding runs weeklong tournaments where groups invite their friends and community members to join and play. By beating levels and earning points, you also score points for your FunFunding team. At the end of the tournament, the TOP scoring teams win sponsored donations for their nonprofit partner.
Q: Why games? Aren’t they bad for you?
Games aren’t as bad as some people may think, especially because of developments like serious games (as we discussed earlier). A vast majority of young people play video games and this “has the potential to promote social and civic engagement.”`` Interestingly, games actually have a strong engagement factor. People feel a sense of autonomy, contribution and community so much that they’re playing for around six hours a week. That’s six hours of time each person could help make an impact. Even though specific video games may not particularly promote social change or justice (yet), research indicates that it may still have a positive impact on civic engagement.``
Q: What type of nonprofits should be using games for community engagement?
Any nonprofit that needs to raise awareness, engage old and new supporters and increase donations. Some serious games, however, are meant for specific communities. Programs like FunFunding can be used by most any nonprofit. That’s the purpose--make doing good a part of your everyday activity--no matter who you are, what cause you support or your availability. And it works. Take FunFunding, for instance, where various nonprofits have played in national tournaments from youth leadership organizations like Elite Youth Tour to community groups like Spread Goodness Day to University Greek Life chapters and more. Players also can help grow your community reach. One FunFunding tournament started with just 16 individuals, representing 16 nonprofits, and managed to get 1,600 people in attendance and beat 40,000 levels. That’s impact!
Q: What does the future of this industry look like?
Remember the dreaded ask? Never again. With the rise of serious games, Esports and purpose-driven brands, this industry is only going up. More games for good will be created, more Esports teams, programs and tournaments will be organized. That means more sponsored donations will flow. It’s only the beginning. Year over year, brands are increasing cause-related spending. In 2018, $2.2 billion was directed toward social causes, which is only 3% of the $65 billion spent on sponsorship, and there is room to grow.` What’s more, universities around the world are tapping into Esports and implementing varsity college teams, as well as degree programs specific to marketing and management in this industry.+ Now more than ever, nonprofits need new models of community and donor engagement while millennials and Gen-Zers seek innovative ways to engage in community action. People will contribute to a better world through play. It’s happening today.
Q: We’d like to get our nonprofit involved. What are the next steps?
There are many ways to get involved. For starters, sign up to create a FunFunding team . FunFunding regularly runs national tournaments where nonprofits like yours are able to sign up, create a team and play for prize donations. It’s a fun and easy-to-implement program for community engagement that gives your members an engaging way to support your cause and help spread awareness of your nonprofit. The best part is, prize donations go to the winning teams. Secure a spot for the next FunFunding tournament!
If you need additional assistance or have a question, please reach out to Corey Harnish at firstname.lastname@example.org or at https://www.funfunding.org/ to learn more about this space and what might best align with your nonprofit’s focus and needs.