Three Ways to Gamify Your Nonprofit Fundraising

26 Feb 2016 Photo Credit: Nintendo

With spring event season just around the corner, the conversations of how to keep your event fresh and your fundraising audience engaged are top of mind for most organizations. "Gamification" is the nonprofit buzzword of the year. 

Gamification is turning normal, everyday tasks into games—with game elements like collecting points for prizes, tracking results in progress meters, etc. Your local coffee bar and sandwich shop have been doing it for years. You have a reward account; each purchase is tracked; and before you know it, you have WON! (Or at least received a discount or free soda with purchase.)  If you own a Fitbit, you have experienced how gaming elements make daily movement more rewarding.

Many researchers, sociologists and game designers have been studying how and why gamification is so effective in helping us maintain good habits. It is why you are now obsessed with hitting all your Fitbit goals, or getting that next half-off coffee. Games aren’t just for entertainment anymore. They can be vital to helping us reach our goals.

In the world of nonprofit runs and walks, the framework for each event is pretty much the same; you ask people to raise money as an individual or as a team. And when someone joins, the triggered emails for fundraising begin! Emails with tips and tricks on how to ask your friends to help reach your fundraising goal, now need to do more. They need to motivate and provide tracking. Allowing supporters to reach new levels in their donations.

Now more than ever, supporters of an organization are going beyond just making a donation. Instead, they are becoming cause advocates and leveraging their own social network to make a larger financial impact. With easy-to-use fundraising software and the power of social media, peer-to-peer fundraising is continuing to grow among nonprofits. And gamification is playing an important role.

Some peer-to-peer third-party fundraising campaigns like Brackets for Good are already taking advantage of game elements to help nonprofits raise money. Imagine your donor has insight to their own donation history and can compare that to other individuals fundraising for the same event. And what if they could see, in real-time, the impact of their donations and be challenged to give more in order to unlock an achievement or help reach a milestone. Then raising funds for an event becomes a game as your supporters try to reach the next level.

Three Ways to Gamify Your Fundraising

1. Fundraising Progress Meters

The National Kidney Association has you set your goal and they track it with a progress bar on your fundraising page:

2. Create an Online Participant Center 

This will be your volunteers' online hub—where they can check in, trade messages, collect "badges," and check on the progress of their team fundraising efforts. Design is critical to the success of your digital participant center.

3. Send "Coaching" Emails

Send messages like "...with $25 more dollars, your team has reached the Bronze Level—and will all receive a thank you goodie bag on event day!”  Let people know how close they are to that next fundraising milestone.

Setting your event apart can be as simple as starting to think like a “gamer.” Gamers are a great fit for online fundraising because many are comfortable with online transactions and are active on social platforms like Facebook and YouTube. With a couple of user-friendly experiences, you can spice up your fundraising efforts and set your event apart while maximizing fundraising dollars.