Transforming the World Through Games: Zynga & Save The Children
Zynga’s partnership with Save the Children began in 2010 when Zynga launched a campaign in their Cafe´ World game to benefit Save the Children’s U.S. programs.
Throughout 2011, campaigns benefiting Save the Children were featured in several Zynga games, including hugely popular CityVille and FarmVille. In each game, designers created limited edition virtual items to benefit Save the Children. Zynga’s virtual items were linked to Save the Children’s programmatic areas (e.g. daikon radishes and Kobe cows for Japan emergency relief) or the game’s theme (e.g. mechanical horses and peppermints in FarmVille’s Winter Wonderland). When Zynga players purchased these limited edition virtual items, 100% of the purchase price benefited Save the Children’s programs.
Responding to the disaster in Japan nearly as quickly as emergency workers, Zynga employees hustled to get campaigns up-and-running just 12 hours after the earthquake and tsunami, encouraging players to spring into action and offering them multiple ways to help across ten of its games. Within 24 hours of the campaign launch, Zynga players had contributed more than $1 million to Save the Children through the purchase of in-game virtual items. By the campaign’s end two weeks later, Zynga players contributed almost $3 million to Save the Children’s Japan Earthquake Tsunami Children Emergency Fund. When tornadoes ravaged communities in Tuscaloosa, Alabama and nearby areas, Zynga again responded quickly, launching new virtual social goods across its game platforms to raise relief funds.
In 2011, more than 227 million active Zynga users each month were introduced to cause-focused campaigns across the games, earning social media mentions from celebrities like Britney Spears, Ashton Kutcher, Lady Gaga and Dr. Dre. The campaign also provided a feel-good way to encourage players to purchase virtual goods for the first time. In 2011, Zynga and its players contributed more than $3 million to support Save the Children’s programs benefiting children and families in the United States and around the world.
Judges appreciated that the cause elements of these campaigns fit seamlessly into the games themselves, enabling players to do good within the context of the familiar gaming environment. Of particular note was how quickly the Zynga team jumped to mobilize this effort.