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Donor Participation Project

Building Community is Key to Gamification Success

Gaming and gamification are popular new tools that nonprofits are leveraging for fundraising and engagement. But for these strategies to be successful, building an active community is essential. According to fundraising experts Diego Sherefker and Dan Long, community is the “meat on the bones” that allows nonprofits to connect gaming partnerships and sponsorships to real impact.

Sherefker, former corporate development officer for the USO, and Long, community manager for the St. Baldwin Foundation, shared insights from their experience building the USO’s gaming program and the Foundation’s partnership with content creators. They emphasized that buy-in from leadership is important but means little without community support.

“Cash is king, but you can really leverage in-kind support to help build that community,” said Sherefker. In-kind donations of gaming equipment or experiences can motivate community members to fundraise or participate in events.

Long also highlighted the importance of a dedicated community manager to cultivate relationships. “Have a community manager that is gonna engage in a very professional and positive but yet intimate way with the community,” he advised. For the St. Baldwin Foundation, Long monitors their Discord server daily, organizes casual community meetups, and designs an ambassador program to strengthen ties with key influencers.

While big names may attract sponsorship, a loyal community base is key to fundraising success. “We’ve gotten some outside help…But it didn’t translate to community members that interact regularly,” Long noted. In contrast, smaller influencers with a genuine connection to the cause tend to motivate their audiences to donate more. For the USO, military veteran streamers sharing personal stories raised significantly more than prominent influencers.

In the end, gaming partnerships and events are a means to an end: strengthening community. By focusing on community building, nonprofits can develop a fundraising strategy with real longevity and impact. Community members that interact regularly become the best ambassadors to spread your mission to new audiences in an authentic way.

View the full recording of this session in our Resource Library.

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