By: Michele Egan
The continued growth of live streaming platforms like Twitch and YouTube has opened up new opportunities for fundraising. Video gaming and eSports have become a global phenomenon. Millennials and Gen Z spend a great deal of time watching or broadcasting livestreaming events. Gaming for Good provides a major avenue for astute nonprofits who are willing to venture beyond the familiar world of runs, walks and bike rides to engage younger donors and participants in new and innovative ways.
The Rise of Gaming in P2P Fundraising
Gaming makes up the largest portion of livestream fundraising but there are other kinds such as art, music, dance, celebrity and food that raise thousands, even millions of dollars, in hours or days. DIY fundraisers who livestream raise more money on average than those who don’t. The idea is to make fundraising more fun by incorporating challenges and silly antics that entertain us as we watch and even learn new skills. Leaderboards and digital badges appeal to our innate competitiveness and heighten engagement as attention spans of younger generations are shrinking. Gamification tied to communities and livestream events represents the future of P2P fundraising.
According to Limelight’s State of Gaming 2018, there is tremendous growth, not only in the amount of time people spend playing video games, but also in the amount of time they spend watching others play online. In fact, gamers 18-35 spend more time watching other people play video games than they spend watching traditional sports. In 2018, nearly 45% of all gamers in the U.S. were women.
Twitch (owned by Amazon) has evolved from a basic video game streaming service to a social network where users connect, share, post updates and donate to causes. Since 2012 over $75 million has been raised globally for charity on Twitch. GameBlast 2018, a gaming event livestreamed on Twitch, raised over $100,000 in 24 hours for SpecialEffect, a UK nonprofit that uses video games and technology to enhance the quality of life of people living with disabilities.
Games Done Quick is a semiannual video game speedrun charity marathon held in the U.S. These events feature high-level gameplay by speedrunners beating various video games in the quickest possible time, sometimes in an unusual or specific way. The events are broadcast live on Twitch and feature commentary from the runner(s) and also from experienced commentators who describe techniques, and an announcer who reads donation messages. Games Done Quick has teamed up with several charities in its seven-year history, including Doctors Without Borders and Prevent Cancer Foundation to raise $19.3 million during 22 marathons.
Gaming Marathons Have Raised Millions
Extra Life unites thousands of players around the world to host fundraising and gaming marathons in support of local Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals. Since it began in 2008, Extra Life has raised more than $50 million dollars. People pledge to play online games on any day they select and using toolkits (or their own designs) recruit friends and family to join their team and/or donate. Game Day photos are posted in the Extra Life Community Hub where users can chat about gaming and fundraising. Digital achievement badges are awarded, and fundraising power ups can be unlocked.
While the big players like Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals focus on major signature events like Extra Life, more and more nonprofits are embracing DIY livestream fundraising. According to Tiltify, livestream fundraising is becoming more effective due to cost, reach, crowd mentality, entertainment and engagement. The interactive platform has 40,000 registered streamers who raise money for more than 400 charities. Over $2.8 million was raised in 2018 for St, Jude’s Children’s Research Foundation through GuardianCon and millions more was raised last year for hundreds of charities including Make-A-Wish Foundation, Direct Relief, Save the Children and the Ellen Fund.
The presence of online influencers, real-time spontaneity and FOMO (fear of missing out) will continue to fuel the rapid growth of livestream fundraising. Engaging Millennials and Gen Z donors, who now make up half of the U.S. population, is crucial. Several other P2P fundraising platforms now support livestream fundraising like Blackbaud’s Just Giving and DonorDrive, making it easier than ever to add livestreaming into your fundraising mix.