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The rise of gamification for charity donations

Gamification has been the basis of many everyday processes that we often take for granted. Fundraising examples of these include things like donation thermometers and free prize draws. However, as we become more accustomed to the formats on popular gaming apps such as Candy Crush and Temple Run, this opens much opportunity to consider a more innovative approach to fundraising…

There are two approaches to the gamification of fundraising. The first is the more obvious charity format, ‘the challenge’; sponsors are collected using a digital platform for achieving a sporting goal such as a bike ride, run or hike. Others have a more ‘fun’ elements incorporated, as we saw with the Ice Bucket Challenge back in 2014. Over lockdown we have seen many people take part in the ’5 for 5’ challenge, where people gave a £5 donation to charity for running 5 km, and then passed on the baton to another 5 people. We have all also seen a number of innovative virtual gamified events given the restrictions charities, and indeed the public, have found themselves under.

A successful example of a virtual gamified event was when the London Dynamo Cycling club’s race organiser needed to find an alternative to the race they had planned. He used Zwift to connect 150 cyclists from their back gardens using the hardware and software the platform provides. With a minimum entry fee of £5 the group raised £1900 for the local NHS trust through the activity. Commentary throughout the ‘race’ connected the community of cyclists so it had an authentic feel to it. The benefits for everyone is clear; money is raised for charity, Zwift raises awareness and the cyclist has a goal to aim for.

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David Stroud, of London Dymanos said:

“Faced with lockdown I needed to find a way to replace our race agenda so doing it virtually was a necessity. It was great to raise money for a local NHS trust too, and we found our members to be very generous. We’ll probably do more events like this in the future.”

Using digital platforms, with text and web donation opportunities, charities can easily set up fundraising campaigns to support ongoing fundraisers such as sponsored bike rides, walks and other fun challenges, whilst giving supporters greater flexibility when donating.

A recent notable challenge campaign was The Duckling’s Trust sponsored walk to mark 13 years of Aylesbury United Football Club. All funds went to the Trust which promotes the health, social and psychological needs of women and their families in the Maternity Units at Stoke Mandeville and Wycombe.

Matt Handy from The Duckling’s Trust said “The recent sponsored walk to Berkhamsted raised essential funds for The Duckling’s Trust and saw supporters walk 13.5 miles for our cause. With DONATE we were able to have a personalised SMS fundraising code, DUCKWALK, which was memorable and made for easy donating.”

The other type of gamification in fundraising is to create a game that lives online or as an app that can be downloaded to IoS and Android. This is what Help for Heroes did with its Hero  Bears game. The app cost £1.99 to buy and £1 from each purchase was donated to the charity. It raised thousands for the cause and was backed by both Jeremy Clarkson and Ross Kemp.

The key to creating something successful is to ensure its virality. This means building in opportunities to share to social media and creating healthy competition between friends, providing prizes for milestones reached. It’s easy to add a fundraising element to this type of fundraising by asking for an entry fee that is, in effect, a donation, or by increasing the donation amount with each level reached or the amount of friends it’s shared with.

Over the past few months, the amount of entry fee-led activities on platforms like DONATE has risen with events such as online dog shows where owners donate to enter their pups into a number of categories from ‘best biscuit catcher’ to ‘best rescue dog’ and ‘design our new mascot’ competitions. With competitions like these, small donations work best as it encourages entrants and the £3 and £5 donations soon add up to make it a worthwhile venture.

Bart Leonard, Trustee at the National Funding Scheme, said:

“We’ve seen a rise in gamification in fundraising campaigns with charities taking initiative from mainstream trends and adapting them to support their cause.

“With platforms like DONATE, gamification in fundraising is made easy as charities and charitable organisations can fundraise for both online events and accept entry fee donations. An easy way to encourage donations would be with SMS text and web fundraising platforms which add ease to everyday fundraising.”


See more case studies from DONATE.

About the National Funding Scheme

The National Funding Scheme (NFS), operating under the DONATE™ brand, provides a range of mobile fundraising tools to maximise fundraising campaigns.

Launched in 2013, DONATE™ (www.easydonate.org) is a platform that allows the UK public to conveniently donate via touch, SMS text or online. It is so simple to use that case studies show increases of 17x the amount raised. As a charity itself, all NFS’s costs are covered by the Government's Gift Aid scheme. When no Gift Aid is available NFS charges 4.5% to cover transaction and administration costs.

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