It's All in the Game
This may come as a shock, but from the donor's point of view the act of supporting a charity can be a little dry. Corporate-looking websites, payment gateways and shopping carts are the norm, but maybe they lack something to really engage today's audience. Fear not, the technology industry has another concept to save the day: gamification -- the application of game-design to an otherwise dry process -- could be the thing that keeps your donors engaged with your cause.
You may be a gamer -- in which case you probably see the role that gaming could play for charities. But if you're not, and perhaps your teenage son or daughter is, you would be forgiven for wondering how the frivolity of the gaming world might be relevant to the noble art of donor engagement.
First, let's acknowledge the importance of the gaming industry. In 2011 the global video game market was valued at $65 billion (source: Reuters). By comparison, the global music industry -- that's everything: sales of recorded music, music publishing and live performance -- was $68 billion and has been relatively flat for a few years (source: eMarketer). Gaming is a huge and still rapidly growing sector of the entertainment industry.
Now consider the gamers. Research shows that gamers exhibit many qualities that charities look for in a donor. They are super-engaged and they work hard -- see how many hours they put in (apparently the average gamer in a country with a game-playing culture puts in as many hours gaming as he or she did attending school from the age of 9 to 17 -- around 10,080 hours - source: Carnegie Mellon University).
Gamers respond to a challenge -- whether it's the "next level" or uncovering what's called an epic win in the gaming world, a gamer will aspire to reach it. They exhibit high levels of trust to other gamers -- they will often partner with other gamers online to achieve their goals. They love recognition -- whether it's a badge, a ribbon or their name on a leader-board, they are motivated by achievement and the recognition that comes with it. They are innately optimistic -- they expect benefits so they invest the time and energy into the games. They are social -- they form relationships and identify with a community of like-minded gamers.