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Gamers Compete, Direct Relief The Big Winner – $410,000
Gamers Compete, Direct Relief The Big Winner -- $410,000

A livestreamed weekend fundraising event that included video game streams, live music, skits and banter raised more than $410,000 for Santa Barbara, Calif.-based medical resources and humanitarian aid organization Direct Relief. The event, which showcased members of The Runaway Guys, a collective of gaming content producers, featured 12 hours of programming every day between February 26 and February 28.

In response to the programming, 6,887 funders ponied up $382,754 in donations, with the rest coming from sale of shirts. The Runaway Guys have raised more than $1.3 million since they began working with Direct Relief in 2018.

“The relationship came about due to one of our now-staff members, MC Moffitt, reaching out to the co-founders of The Runaway Guys with the idea of a weekend where they all got together and played games for charity,” Direct Relief spokesperson Noah Smith wrote in an email to The NonProfit Times.

The marriage of an online event – the weekend’s festivities were featured on Twitch, an interactive livestreaming platform – and Direct Relief is a natural fit. Direct Relief does not host in-person fundraising events or galas, according to Smith.

A livestreamed event focused around gaming also provides access to a relatively youthful funder audience most nonprofits would love to embrace. “There are younger viewers, but also those who have been fans of the group for over a decade and are now in their mid to late 30s,” Smith wrote. “Certainly, these gaming events help introduce Direct Relief to new audiences and for that, we are extremely grateful.”

The gaming community’s support of Direct Relief goes beyond The Runaway Guys’ events. Over the years the organization has received more than $15 million from gamers. Smith believes the keys to stimulating response among this audience reflect its nature.

“Gaming has traditionally had a very grassroots ethic, and authenticity is seen as critical, so when a top streamer participates in a charity stream, their audience tends to feel the charity in question — and the streamers affinity towards it — is more trustworthy,” Smith wrote. “The format of Twitch creates a feeling of familiarity that enables fans to feel closer to the talent than, say, professional sports or Hollywood. Brad Pitt is famous, but you probably don’t know him and if he asked you to do something, you probably wouldn’t do it. Whereas if your friend asked you, you’d be more likely. Fans feel like streamers are more like their friends than celebrities.”