Two Ways Charities Use Social Games Successfully

By: Guest | August 25, 2011 | 

Today’s guest post is written by Yasin Akgun.

Traditional marketing methods of charities have, for a long time, been offline based activities. For instance, door to door sales, leafleting, street vendors, and tele-sales.

Of course, we’ve all seen this changing as more and more charities turn to digital marketing strategies to raise awareness and increase profitability.

In the U.K., the BBC published a report showing that millions of pounds intended for charities, in fact, go to the companies managing and implementing the fundraising on their behalf.

The report even concluded that:

Fees paid to fundraising companies by UK charities for recruiting new donors often effectively wipe out the amount a person gives.

They cited, as an example, that many organizations effectively pay sub-contracted fundraisers MORE than they raise in the first year, just to cover the initial costs. These fundraisers, also known as “chuggers,”  or charity muggers, may get 750,000 signatures raising 90 pounds per signature, but the charities are paying 100 pounds per signature.

The result of this story has been detrimental to charities who were already struggling with the perception that donors’ money lines the pockets of others, and not the intended beneficiaries of charities.

This has left them in a difficult situation. Traditional marketing methods, where their experience lies, are becoming more and more ineffective.

Of course, now they realize the strategy they must take next is to dip their toes in to previously unknown frontiers: Digital marketing.

It would be wrong to suggest that charities have only now used the Internet for fundraising activities but it is a valid statement that some have been reluctant to make that transition.

Those that have made this giant leap are doing very well. In fact, the partnership of online game publishers and charities has been consistently successful in bringing in never before seen ROI for charities.

  1. The charity Save The Children (for victims of this year’s earthquake in Japan) partnered with Zynga via branded virtual goods. Within 36 hours of the campaign going online, more than $1 million in funds were raised.In fact, the partnership of game publishers and charities have been consistently successful in bringing in never before seen ROI for charities, including outside of the BVG business model.
  2. The game developer Backstage raised more than $172,000 for charities around the world, primarily through their innovative ‘Scratch & Win‘ online games. Special tickets could only be purchased via Spare Change for $0.10 with net proceeds going directly to charity.

The success rate of the partnership between charities and social game developers should be of no surprise when we consider the market value of virtual goods.

According to eMarketer, the branded virtual goods revenues this year have increased by more than 156 percent since 2010 and has an estimated worldwide value of $41 million. The projections for 2015 show that this will increase by a staggering 775 percent to a worldwide value of no less than $318 million.

Charitable causes and social media are surely a perfect match particularly when you see the symbiotic nature of the core values of each. Social media is a platform to provide people a way of connecting with others around common interests; concordant with the core values of charities which is to raise awareness, bring people together and create communities around causes.

Charities have the potential to reach more donors than ever before for their project by utilising new media in an ethical, profitable and engaging environment; online gaming. Do you have a success story you’d like to share?

Yasin Akgun is a marketing executive with PlayMob, a UK based company offering offering relationship management solutions for game developers, charities and brands together. He blogs for them here.

  • Ok! I’ll be the first! Yasin, thanks for this. I have to say, I always wonder about the integrity of the organizations to which I donate. We want to do the right thing and give, yet how many of us really have the time to do the homework to make sure our money is being put to the best use.

    Glad to see some solutions and more discussion on the topic.

  • ps. your puppy is so precious.

  • I think the idea that a lot of money that goes to charities goes to management and those that run the fundraisers is the same here in the states as it is there. Too much goes to those who raise the money. A proper use of online social platforms can cut those costs dramatically and reach a wider audience more rapidly. I don’t have the numbers handy, but i know that Union Rescue Mission in LA does a great job of raising very large sums of money to keep themselves going, and a lot of that is via Social Media.

  • OnlineBusinesVA

    I think the best way to build your brand awareness is to continuously advertise on one place or to one group of people. Because we all have limited advertising dollars, we cannot advertise every where. Hence we need to focus building brand awareness on one place, and then really engage with the people/customers there.Social media is the best way to do it.

  • thank you!

  • Hey Yasin,

    I didn’t realize social gaming could contribute to charity! When I was volunteering for a school for blind, we found out that it needed financial help desperately, the children basically came from homes that couldn’t afford education. One of my seniors came up with this idea of involving social gaming to raise money. But nobody believed him them. And we went for asking for charity the old way. Most should have trusted him then…

  • @KenMueller It’s a shame that a few poorly run charities spoil it for other far better run charities. I personally never give to a charity until I find out what percentage goes to the intended beneficiaries. From my experience and biased passion, social media should be seen as the finest way for a charity to raise funds and awareness.

  • @Hajra Hi Hajra, how long ago was this? Admittedly before I started working for PlayMob I always assumed that people simply wouldn’t give to charity online, that it was too cumbersome and needed the face 2 face marketing pressure.

    But, now that I’ve seen it in action it just makes sense

  • @Hajra Hi Hajra, how long ago was this? Admittedly before I started working for PlayMob I always assumed that people simply wouldn’t give to charity online, that it was too cumbersome and needed the face 2 face marketing pressure.

    But, now that I’ve seen it in action it just makes sense

  • @YasinAkgun This was about 2 years back. And in college, we had this huge “virtual gaming section” in the technology department; so the plan was to have entry tickets and online gaming and all the proceeds going there. Would it have had made sense two years back?

  • Wow, I never would have put social good and social games together. One thing I’d love to see the organizations I give to do more often is subscription-based giving. Instead of starting from zero each month, wouldn’t it be great if the “chugger” was only a loss the first cycle?