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Published by Woods Group

Why Gaming will take fundraising by storm in 2015

With the UK’s gambling sector now worth an estimated £2 billion, what can charities learn from the gaming industry? Quite a lot actually…

Tombolas and raffles are synonymous with local charities and fundraising, both being used to fund improvements and social support long before charities could enjoy the support they do today. But the days of cucumber sandwiches on the village green and a jolly tombola are (for most) a distant memory, and quite far remove from the gaming landscape of modern times.

With the rise of lotteries, casinos, bingo, gambling sites and more, there are plenty of companies out there turning ‘a bit of fun’ into big business. In fact, the UK’s gambling sector is currently worth over £2billion annually. Whatever your moral view on the gambling industry, there is no doubt that charities can benefit greatly by looking at the current model of gamification for increased donations.
In fact, there are already several charitable organisations that are giving money raising methods a modern-day twist, and are enjoying a huge upswing in donations for their efforts.

A key example is the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB), who have succeeded in raising more than £8 million since adopting a digital, gamified approach to fundraising. Customers can quickly and easily sign up for their weekly lottery and seasonal raffle via direct debit, with the opportunity for multiple entries over a given month. RNIB takes the familiar, the national lottery has been around in the UK since 1994, and applies it to charity to great effect.

This kind of ‘incentivised giving’ brings a new angle to charity and actually encourages a new demographic to give. This is the kind of evolution that other charities in the UK should be aiming for if they want to properly utilise gaming within their fundraising.

Gaming In The UK

The increase in the UK’s gaming sector can be attributed to a number of things – relaxed gambling laws, online and app gaming, plus the resurgence of games like bingo across all demographics. Whilst these events were closely associated with mature age group, times are changing, with Channel 4 even claiming that ‘new rebels are ditching bingeing for bingo.’

And the demographics are changing at the other end of the spectrum too. With smartphone usage amongst over 50s increasing faster than any other demographic, it’s more important than ever before to think about digital gaming activity as a charity. Gaming has moved further into the digital age than ever before. Apps, online draws and games of chance can now be played without ever leaving the comfort of the home.

Whilst the initial outlay of going digital may seem intimidating for some charities, once the groundwork has been laid then online games are far more self-sufficient than organising real-world events. Apps and online games, when done well, can emphasise, reinforce and compliment your brand and reach audiences you may not normally have access to, both nationally and internationally. And, as we saw with RINB, you can encourage loyalty and repeated entries to your games, increasing the amount each individual donor puts in.

It’s tempting to look at digital and see it as the future of everything, but gamifying can still work offline too. There have even been surprisingly successful campaigns like charity lottery ticket machines, which have successfully replaced cigarette machines in pubs across the UK. Although it was seen as an unlikely gamble, offering charity lottery tickets in this way made the act of giving (with the chance of receiving) all the more accessible to the public.

Making Use Of Charity Fundraising Through Gaming

It’s worth noting the EU definitions of a charity lottery which state that running costs should not exceed 20% and that the remaining 80% ideally be split equally between the prizes entrants can win and direct funds for the charity. A charity will also need to register with the local authority in order to proceed, so check with your local council with how you apply. If you’re planning gamification of your fundraising with the promise of a prize, the 80/20 split is a good framework to work from in general, not just for lotteries.

There is also a greater level of support for those looking for assistance in their fundraising, particularly when attached with gaming. There are specialist fundraising services that can arrange the infrastructure of such efforts, drawing from past experiences. If you are aiming to create a mobile app to encourage repeated entries from your users then it would be worth hiring someone with experience in multi-platform apps to ensure a wide user base.

The Changing World of Charity Fundraising

In an industry that can be intensely competitive it would be foolhardy for any charity to ignore the increasing presence of gaming. Organisations like RNIB are certainly the most high-profile and successful, but there are now hundreds of smaller charitable organisations taking up arms online, and with good reason. 2015 will see the landscape get even busier; it’s imperative not to get left behind.

Charities that aren’t utilising these modern ways to incentivise giving may find themselves losing out on much-needed funds. Ensure that you’re not left behind and consider how you can take traditional fundraising methods and blend them with the digital age.

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