People of all ages and backgrounds around the world enjoy gaming, and more and more are tuning in to watch their favourite streamers enjoy games too. Now a growing number of charities are using these channels to engage with prospective supporters, build online communities, and drive donations.
If you haven’t yet harnessed the power of livestreaming at your own charity, we are here to help! Read our guide to learn everything you need to know, and don’t forget to check out the glossary at the end for any unfamiliar gaming terms.
What is gaming?
A gamer is someone who plays interactive games – usually video games, tabletop role-playing games or skill-based board or card games – and who frequently plays for long periods of time. Games are usually played for fun, but they’re also big business. Competitive games like League of Legends, Fortnite and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive now support global competition circuits, teams of professional players and multi-million dollar prize pools.
What is livestreaming?
In the world of gaming, anyone can broadcast themselves and their screen while playing their favourite video game for a live audience. Many gamers have built large audiences on livestreaming platforms like Twitch. Viewers watch the actions and send in comments and questions through a chat box and the streamer responds through a microphone while they play.
Viewers can tip their favourite streamers, sending them money as a way of showing support or enjoyment. The most dedicated fans can also buy subscriptions, receiving exclusive emotes, unique badges next to their name and, best of all, a live shout-out from the streamer.
Charities are using gaming to engage with tech-savvy millennial and Gen Z donors, who have proved increasingly hard to reach through traditional channels.
Livestreaming on Twitch and YouTube has become a common way for savvy charities to harness the fundraising power of gaming. World-famous non-profits such as CALM and Amnesty International now list streaming as a viable virtual alternative to traditional fundraising events like charity runs.
During a fundraising livestream, the gamer promotes their chosen charity and asks for donations to charity as opposed to tips for themselves.
Livestreaming doesn’t just make donating easier, it also encourages viewers to donate more. For many donors, the most powerful type of motivation is recognition – and the quicker it comes, the better. Livestreaming platforms display donations on-screen in real time, allowing the streamer and viewers to thank donors instantly.
More than just gaming
Livestreaming isn’t just for pro gamers and their fans. You can livestream almost anything to raise money for a cause close to your heart. Here are some other examples:
- Cooking, knitting or painting tutorials
- Virtual quizzes
- Musical or drama performances
- Challenges or dares like shaving your head
For a perfect example, look at the musicians putting their talent to work helping the Solidarity Response Fund in South Africa. Electronic band GoodLuck have been hosting “The Luck Down”, a regular livestream on Facebook Live, YouTube and Twitch. As well as music and interviews with special guests, the band shared their online fundraising project with their loyal followers to ask for donations.
How can my charity get involved?
First, it’s important to do your research to learn how the gaming community works and the best way to get involved. Make use of your existing resources by asking colleagues if anyone is a keen gamer.
There may also be popular streamers who are willing to raise money for your charity if you reach out. UK-based streamer Harry Brewis raised more than £275,000 for the charity Mermaids in 2019 with a 57-hour marathon stream of his attempt to complete Donkey Kong 64. This year, popular South African gamer Grant Hinds hosted a birthday fundraiser on GivenGain, livestreaming a 24 hour gaming marathon to raise money for homelessness charity New Hope.
Personality-led appeals like these tap into the streamer’s pre-existing base of followers and can be very successful. However, some gamers might not fit with your charity’s brand, so it’s important to do your homework.
Going it alone
You don’t necessarily need to team up with a famous streamer to have a great livestreamed event. Every year, the American not-for-profit Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals organises a 24-hour gaming marathon. Gamers are encouraged to play games for 24 hours straight – and get sponsors to pay them to do so. Each participant chooses a hospital to play for and all the pledges that the gamer collects are donated to that institution.
For bonus points, tailor your gaming challenge to align with your message. For example, UK housing charity Shelter’s Level Up gaming challenge encourages participants to play for at least 135 minutes – one minute for each family that becomes homeless every day in the UK.
Once you have decided on your challenge, it’s time to recruit some challengers. Gamers are massively present on Twitter so use a specific hashtag to boost engagement. Many charities also offer exclusive content in exchange for the gamer’s fundraising efforts.
Make streaming work for you
With GivenGain’s streaming widget, fundraising and livestreaming can be combined with ease.
Our Fundraising Campaign Manager, Clara Miret Carbonell, livestreamed a home workout in aid of charity Asociación Pie Alado. “I’m not particularly tech savvy, but using the livestream widget was very easy,” explained Clara.
“The first thing you need to do is download Open Broadcaster Software (OBS), a free software program for livestreaming, and then you can choose which platform you’d like to use. Twitch, YouTube, Facebook Live, Twitter and Instagram all have simple tutorials for connecting with OBS. I decided to stream a yoga class via Instagram as that’s where I have the most followers, so after watching the tutorial I added the donation alert and progress bar widget code provided on my GivenGain fundraiser profile. It was very cool for everyone to see the donations made in real-time!”
To see how to add the GivenGain livestreaming widget to your own livestream, visit our support page. Alternatively, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org for more information and live-streaming fundraising advice.
Livestream: Recording and broadcasting live video to an audience over the Internet.
Streamer: An individual who broadcasts video of themselves (or others) to an online audience.
Open Broadcasting Software: a free and open-source cross-platform streaming and video recording program. To find out more and download the software visit https://obsproject.com/. To learn how to connect popular streaming platforms with OBS, watch the tutorials below:
Facebook Live: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IBNffU4qHuw
Twitch: The world’s most popular livestreaming website. Users can watch playbacks of games being played by other people, livestream their own games, chat to other gamers and follow their favourite streamers.
Widget: Transparent Web pages designed to be overlayed onto a livestream. They typically include dynamic content such as alerts and chat windows.
Speed-run: A type of game play where an individual attempts to complete a game as fast as they can.
Gaming marathon: An individual or group of friends committing to playing a game for a long time (usually 24 hours) and asking their network to support them by making donations to charity.
Emote: An emoticon, short for “emotion icon”, also known simply as an emote, is a pictorial representation of a facial expression using characters to express a person’s feelings or mood.