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Donor Participation Project

Building Virtual Connections: How Nonprofits Can Use Gaming to Engage Supporters

The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the growth of gaming as a way for people to connect virtually. This trend presents an opportunity for nonprofits to engage supporters through online gaming communities and fundraising events.

According to Diego Shanaker, Gaming Partnerships Manager at the USO, the average age of a gamer is 33 and nearly two-thirds of gamers are adults over 18. These gamers want to connect with others, not isolate themselves. The USO has built a gaming program around this desire for connection, enabling military service members to connect with each other and their loved ones back home through gaming.

For nonprofits looking to get started with gaming, Shanaker recommends connecting gaming to your mission. Identify how gaming can help you achieve your goals, whether it’s raising awareness, building community, or fundraising. Then, survey your supporters to determine what kinds of games they like to play.

Build your gaming program around the interests of your community.

To fundraise through gaming, empower supporters to organize events on your behalf. Provide incentives for people to participate and donate, such as gaming gear or the opportunity to play with celebrities and influencers. However, the incentives don’t have to be expensive. get creative by offering experiences like face painting or drinking creamed corn on camera in exchange for donations.

Steward gaming influencers the same way you would major donors. Keep the lines of communication open, share updates about how their contributions made an impact, and invite them to participate in future events. While some gaming audiences prefer to remain anonymous, work to collect contact information from as many donors as possible so you can cultivate long-term relationships.

Tap into the expertise of the gaming industry by creating an advisory council. Work with gaming companies, e-sports organizations and influencers to ensure your program remains relevant and impactful for supporters. Gaming, like any new initiative, requires an investment of time and resources to be successful. But by connecting gaming to your mission and supporters’ interests, nonprofits can build virtual communities and drive fundraising through this fast-growing channel.

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

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