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Let the games begin

by The NonProfit Times - October 10, 2013

Oh the games people play.

People do play a variety of games, sometimes even when they’re playing games. Usually, people think in terms of game playing as being fun. Fundraising is not too many people’s idea of fun.

Maybe that can change.

During the 2013 Bridge to Integrated Marketing conference, Jeremy Ryan of Lipman Hearne offered the idea of making fundraising fun, by applying gamification.

Gamification sounds like one of those words people make up to express some kind of bizarre concept. Actually, the word comes from an Englishman named Nick Pelling, a computer programmer and inventor, and means the use of game thinking and game mechanics in a non-game context to engage users and solve problems. It is used in applications and processes to improve user engagement, return on investment, data quality, timeliness and learning.

Gamification techniques strive to leverage people’s natural desires for competition, achievement, status, self-expression, altruism, and closure. Ryan said gamification in fundraising involves the following:

  • Storyline;
  • Cascading information theory;
  • Rewards: badges and achievements;
  • Challenges and achievements;
  • Leader boards;
  • Progress bars and unlocks;
  • Activity feeds and notifications;
  • Avatars; and,
  • Virtual currency, awards and cred.

He also suggested six steps to make gamification in fundraising successful:

  • Define business objectives;
  • Delineate target behaviors;
  • Describe the players;
  • Devise activity loops;
  • Don’t forget the fun; and,
  • Deploy appropriate tools.


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