Giving through gaming – a cutting edge initiative?

10 July 2017 | By Cause4 staff

Successful fundraising is key to any charity’s success, yet recently I have found that it is the operational aspects that many struggle with. This could be due to several factors, yet the increasing competition from the growing amount of charities[1] is undoubtedly an issue in securing both funding and the public’s attention. Innovation and creativity are therefore vital in fundraising.

From better established initiatives such as Justgiving and Crowdfunding pages, to Facebook’s more recent development allowing non-profits to accept donations via the network, it is clear that digital fundraising is becoming more prominent. According to research conducted by Dunham + Company, 93% of people said they used a mobile phone or tablet to donate, meaning the incentive for charities to have mobile friendly forums is incredibly high[2], and organisations are being encouraged to be “Digital First”, making digital core to their strategy[3].

Charities who are likely to be the most successful are the those most willing to innovate and adapt, and embrace the power of digital. This is reiterated in “Stronger charities for a stronger society”, a new report by the House of Lords Select Committee on Charities. This insightful paper argues that digital communication and technology has significantly changed how charities operate, but also that it can be incredibly beneficial for charities to embrace digital innovation[4].

One creative digital approach to fundraising that has emerged in recent years is giving through gaming, and as an estimated 1.5 billion people play video games worldwide and the market is set to reach over £100bn next year, it would seem to be an auspicious market to explore[5].

Gamers can get involved in philanthropy in several ways, from buying games through initiatives such as HumbleBundle, which allows the players to donate part of the proceeds to charity, to taking part in gaming marathons such as Extra Life or Games Done Quick to raise money for charity, or even by making in-game purchases‰¦.

Whilst many publishers and developers help charities through their CSR programmes, and mass gaming fundraising events are gaining in popularity,[6][7] giving directly through gaming remains a largely untapped source of funding. However, according to research conducted by the Charities Aid Foundation with support from the Gamer Network and Gamestatix, this is not due to a lack of interest. They found that 55% of respondents said that they would make in game purchases and/or would upgrade if some of the cost went to charity. Similarly, 59% said that they would be more likely to pay to remove advertisements if some of the profits went to charity and 63% would use funds from online wallets to donate.[8]

Naturally these statistics only apply to those who spend money on or in games, however there are several reasons why gaming could be a very promising avenue for charities to pursue. In addition to the amount of people who play, and how much the industry is worth, there is a clear interest in giving through gaming, with 88% of gamers having given to charity in the past 12 months.

Whilst I am not encouraging organisations to invest all their fundraising income into games, this, as a relatively untapped market could offer a high return on investment, a key priority in charity fundraising. I hope organisations in the charity sector embrace the potential opportunities the gaming industry has to bring, and look forward to seeing what the next digital fundraising innovation will be.

Do you think fundraising through gaming could work? Tweet us @OfficialCause4 and let us know your thoughts.












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“We are pleased to support the development of these materials, through Arts Fundraising & Philanthropy, to provide a comprehensive bank of knowledge and experience that can be easily accessed by leaders of arts organisations and practitioners, both in the UK and internationally. One of our priorities at the Arts Council is to help arts and cultural organisations become more resilient and sustainable as they explore new revenue streams.”

Sir Nicholas Serota, Chair of ACE

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