Nonprofit cause marketers often grow weary of being approached by unknown companies wielding shiny partnership offers that end up being more hype than substance. Clearly, there aren’t enough hours in the day to evaluate every potential partnership opportunity. But can you be sure you’re not turning away a donation gold mine?
We all know the power of gaming for good. In 2011 after a tsunami and earthquake rocked Japan, Zynga online social gamers purchased $2.8 million in virtual goods within 5 days with all monies raised going to Save the Children for relief efforts. Gamers are accustomed to forking over money to enhance their gaming experience – if those dollars go to a charitable beneficiary, particularly if gamers still reap the benefit, all the better.
Such is the model for a gaming event called “Awesome Games Done Quick”, organized by Speed Demos Archive. In this 100+hour live gaming marathon “Speed runners” try their hand at whizzing through various video games as quickly as possible while their attempts are live streamed out across the world to tens of thousands of viewers. Donations are exchanged for prizes like game-related plushies or art or for in-game benefits such as naming a character or making a level more challenging for a player to beat.
The last ‘Awesome Games Done Quick’ event hosted in January of 2013, 9600 donors from around the world made over 11,000 donations with an average gift of $28.00. The largest donation was $10,000. To date, the event has raised over $650,000 for Prevent Cancer Foundation (in addition, Speed Demos Archive hosts multiple events each year and includes other charitable partners).
Getting To Know You
Initially, Prevent Cancer Foundation (PCF) staffers were unsure what they were getting themselves into. They were approached by Speed Demos Archive whose players wanted to donate to a cancer charity and whose calls had gone unanswered to another cancer charity. Intrigued, PCF agreed to partner with Speed Demos Archive for the next year’s event. They took their responsibility seriously, ensuring there was a staff or Board member present around the clock for the gaming marathon. “Awesome Games Done Quick” raised over $50,000 for PCF in that first formal year of collaboration. Over time, both organizations have grown to know more about the other and as the “Awesome Games Done Quick” event has grown each year, so have the donations. Last year the event raised $448,000 of unrestricted funds in 7 days.
A Major Donor
PCF doesn’t take the relationship with Speed Demos Archive for granted. “We’re incredibly fortunate to have a dedicated group of people who are doing something that they love to save lives through cancer prevention and early detection.” said Jim Wood, PCF’s managing director of external affairs.
The charity communicates with Speed Demos Archive regularly throughout the year, honoring organizers at their annual event. In addition, PCF also provides meals, pizza and giveaways during the event.
Continuing the Conversation
The charity has just recently started to reach out to individual donors directly and isn’t yet sure how continued engagement will fare. Smaller speed runs are beginning to pop up on college campuses. With a referral to PCF by event organizers, these smaller events also have the potential to generate additional donor funds. As sponsorship of the “Awesome Games Done Quick” event continues to grow, there may be room for additional collaboration between the two organizations.
Prevent Cancer Foundation took the time to explore a potential partnership opportunity that, on the surface, appeared insignificant. While certainly not every partnership ask will turn out this successfully, who knows when a short, exploratory conversations may open the door to a whole new world of profit, partnership and possibility?