Giving Can Be Engaging and Fun During a Pandemic
With galas, golf tournaments and even product-based fundraising on hiatus while COVID-19 drags on, nonprofits shouldn’t just wait for the world to get back to normal. Many nonprofits are urgently shifting to online forms seeking donations, which, for most donors, is neither engaging nor fun. Millennial donors do not respond in the same way as the “ask” of Generation X and Baby Boomers — being mindful of the difference is paramount to non-
profits reestablishing a successful fundraising strategy.
A silver lining for nonprofits enduring this difficult fundraising environment is that it is forcing many causes to reevaluate the “how” rather than the “why.” The “why” is the importance of sharing the impact of the cause, and nonprofits know they must articulate the work they do to reach donors and drive engagement toward giving. The “how” on the other hand can be more difficult to embrace for a variety of reasons:
- Tradition: Events and/or product sales are how supporters think about the organization and expect to either get involved through volunteering and/or
- Perception of Technology: As tools have emerged that understand how to reach supporters digitally, anxiety over data security, the learning curve with donors and staff, and wondering “if it will actually work.”
- Change: Doing something new takes a leap of faith, but it also can be healthy for an organization where donors/supporters may have “fatigue” either from the ongoing pandemic or from the lack of evolving with the times.
- There is a solution that can address the how in a new way — and the pandemic has just accelerated the need for nonprofits to reimagine the ways they engage with donors and supporters virtually: gamification.
Using elements of gamification, your virtual fundraising can benefit your cause in a variety of new ways:
- Leaderboard: Show both overall progress in working toward a collective goal by highlighting the individual/team contributions of your most active donors. This method can work as a way to create friendly competition that both highlights successes and motivates for the goal that has yet to be accomplished.
- Achievements/Points: As a donor, what can I get in return for having supported the cause? For the next generation of donors, connecting with them where they are with mobile gaming can really make your cause stand out over others competing for donor support. Not to mention, establishing a “currency” of earned value could be exchanged for branded apparel or other items that help market the cause and make for low-cost publicity.
- Gamifying Sports and Pop Culture Events: By leveraging the major sports, Hollywood award shows and reality TV shows that people watch anyways, why not tie giving to supporters choosing who might win an event? It isn’t gambling if there is no prize for a donor — it just is a more fun way to support a cause that creates competition for bragging rights with fellow supporters. What started with office pools at March Madness and other major sports can be extended throughout the year in a way that supports the cause (without any of the negative connotations of gambling).
- The Ask Without the Ask: This might be one of the best reasons to incorporate gamification: Donors and supporters won’t feel as much like they are being approached for the “upteenth” time for money if there are fun elements offered in a way they can engage with the cause. Asking for money the same way every time isn’t going to boost giving — getting creative with engagement that differentiates your cause reduces that friction with donors.
Regardless of what your cause does, the combination of the current pandemic and end-of-year giving means that now is the time to reevaluate how to better engage (and fundraise) going into 2021. We all are looking forward to a better 2021 — let’s make it fun, and the generosity will follow.
Editor's Note: This "Fundraising Connection" column was originally published in the November/December 2020 print edition of NonProfit PRO. Click here to subscribe.
Matt Golis is the founder and CEO of GiveGame, an online fundraising platform that makes giving fun by leveraging major sports, Hollywood award shows and reality TV shows to drive engagement and donations to 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations. Matt is a serial entrepreneur who is passionate about tech-enabled payment processing that leads to more generosity to benefit causes, schools, and people/companies that raise money for nonprofits. After a 20+ year career in Silicon Valley, Matt resides near Columbus in New Albany, Ohio.