Invisible Walls: Avoiding 'Othering' in Your Outreach
This may come as a shock, but creating a digital fundraising program is hard, especially when trying to grow a tight-knit community around that program. One stumbling block we often see from organizations breaking into this space is that their focus can be narrow to the point of becoming “othering.” However, there are some simple adjustments you can make to your branding, messaging and outreach that will open you up to an entire world of new and exciting fundraising partners.
Othering is the act of treating a group so differently from other groups that they feel alienated. This happens in the digital fundraising space often, though almost never intentionally. Typically, this stems from programs, events, or initiatives that focus specifically on subsections of the online community. The most common example being outreach to “Gamers.” This can cause people who may be passionate about your mission, but don’t associate with that identity, to feel like they are not allowed to participate. Even amongst creators who focus on video game related content, the identity of “Gamer” can be contentious.
The online content landscape has completely transformed, even in just the last few years. There is now a diverse world of creators who are actively searching for ways to give back. These wonderful people are making content that makes them happy, whatever form that might take. Be it cooking, running, or even simple slice-of-life content, they are thriving, while also stewarding amazing (and often generous) communities.
Opening your program to include these bright, innovative folks can help you foster relationships you never thought possible. Entirely new varieties of content creators will devote their time and effort to you if they feel like their unique brand of content is welcome and valued. Donors will be excited to share your events with friends and family far outside of those perceived narrow circles. Your ability to engage a broader audience and form a more far-reaching community will in turn be greatly enhanced.
In turn, this will empower you to reach your full fundraising potential. It makes sense that more participation, more views, and a more engaged community would lead to more donations, right? Well, it goes even deeper than that. Even gaming communities that branch out from strictly gameplay-focused content see drastic fundraising increases. Known by some for his YouTube gaming content, Markiplier raised over $400,000 while never touching a video game in his 2017 Save the Children livestream:
This shows the power of diversifying your outreach, even within groups that may appear singular in their interests. Applying this approach to the entire breadth of the online community can lead to not only more fun, but more fundraising.
If your organization has a gaming-centric program, don’t panic! You haven’t committed any sort of mortal sin. There are countless ways of modifying your messaging to be more inclusive and broaden your appeal. Avoiding terms such as “streamer” will let TikTok and YouTube creators know they’re equally invited to create a campaign. Leaning less heavily on “Gamer” branding for your event will help that really cool seamstress on Twitch feel like a valuable part of your community. The sooner you can make these changes, the better. As your reputation grows, it can become more difficult to get past those expectations.
This is all simply to remind you that the online fundraising community is for everyone. People from all walks of life are now doing their fundraising online, and with that comes a limitless potential. Meet these creators where they are, wherever they are. This will lead to a larger, happier, more inclusive community, plus the amazing opportunities that come with them.
Tyler Worthington is a charity success manager at Tiltify with 13 years of experience in digital content creation and livestream fundraising. He is passionate about helping charities better connect with online communities around the world. Tyler resides in the DFW area with his pets, who make frequent cameos on his Twitch streams and Zoom meetings.