We all have something in common – we don’t want to be bored. In fact, while I know this blog post I’m writing will be filled with useful information, I have rewritten the first sentence a dozen times to make sure it wasn’t boring. But surprise! It is.

(Let’s just move on, shall we?)

A common thread among all nonprofits is that they need to raise money in order to do their good work. Now, combine that with the above fact about not wanting to be bored and gamification was born.

What is Gamification?

Gamification is using game-like designs or strategies in a non-game context. It started to pick up speed in 2010, and now it is a staple of both the for-profit and nonprofit world. It adds creativity and competition to something that might be, ahem, boring.

This is especially relevant for the younger generation. They are donating. They want to do good in the world. But they, like everyone else, want to be engaged. Gamification is a way to transform old-fashioned donating into an interactive experience.

The Benefits of Gamification

Inspires Healthy Competition

Friendly competition can boost how much and how often people donate, especially in men. According to Science Daily, men will donate four times as much if they are involved in a competition. By using progress meters, points and teams, you can inspire some competition that will ultimately name the winner the nonprofit.

Creates User-Generated Content

This is invaluable to nonprofits. Every picture, post and comment from the participants are marketing your fundraiser. Remember the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge? Those videos were all over social media bringing awareness to the cause, and the result was a 187% increase in donations. Nothing the organization created on their own could have resulted in that kind of donation spike.

Increases Engagement

Nonprofits depend on engagement from their members and donors. This is nothing new. Sometimes engagement comes in the form of reading a newsletter or attending an event. But gamification offers a form of engagement that reaches the audience that maybe would let that newsletter sit unopened in their inbox or those that can’t attend an event.

Better Search Engine Ranking

Increased engagement on your website will also help your Google rankings. One of the many ways Google judges your site is by how long a visitor spends on it. If someone stays for a while, Google reads that as “the user found what they were looking for” and moves your site up in the rankings. If a visitor bounces, or leaves almost immediately, Google assumes your page didn’t have quality content and pushes you lower.

The Psychology of Gamification

How does it inspire giving?

Puts People in Control

Sometimes it can feel like you are convincing people to donate. With gamification, they want to be involved because it is fun and for a good cause.

Lets Them “Win”

Seeing their name on a leaderboard or earning a badge gives people that “feel good” energy (and bragging rights).

Creates a Community

You likely already have a community, but gamification is a great way to grow your community and get people to feel more personally connected than if they were simply writing a check.

What should you be careful of?

There is no denying the benefits of gamification, but there are a few things to keep in mind when launching this type of campaign:

Don't water down the message.

While gamification techniques can motivate people to take action, the ultimate goal is to shine a spotlight on the cause. Make sure that you don’t undermine your own message.

Don't just jump on the bandwagon

Sure, it is trendy and fun and effective. But only if it is done right. Make sure you are intentional and strategic about how you implement it.

Now let's see it in action.

Mittun has helped countless nonprofits update and gamify their fundraising efforts. Here are a just a few recent examples of nonprofit gamification websites.

Home Run Challenge

The MLB-PCF Home Run Challenge encourages everyone to join the fight against prostate cancer through America’s favorite pastime – baseball.

Mittun helped “gamify” the fundraiser that generally asked donors to pledge a certain amount for each home run hit from June 1 to Father’s Day. When COVID prevented players from taking the field, donors took to the new site. This year, they donated in the name of their favorite team to prompt a national competition to see which MLB team had the most donors.

The result was an extremely generous campaign – during a year that didn’t even have baseball.

Multiple Leaderboards

Donors could track which player hit the most home runs, as well as which team. This allowed donors to enjoy the healthy competition from two angles.

Free the Ocean

Free the Ocean is on a mission to remove plastic from the ocean, once click at a time.

Mittun helped them create an interactive gamified website that prompts users to answer fun and educational trivia questions about the ocean. Each time a user answers a question, Free the Ocean funds the removal of a piece of plastic through ad revenue generated on the site.

With personalized accounts, invitations to friends and an interactive map, FTO gamers feel a sense of community they wouldn’t have by simply donating.

Counter

The goal is to remove plastic from the ocean. Using conditional logic, visitors on any page of the site can get the current estimate of pieces of plastic removed. It’s not a small number, and people want to be part of something big.

Quiz/Trivia Feature

People also want to be entertained. By creating a game of trivia, they are engaging visitors and inviting them to be a part of the solution.

Badges/Ranking

Visitors who make a profile can then earn badges and level up based on how many questions they answer. By using the icons of the badges to reflect their cause, Free the Ocean is weaving their mission into the whole experience.
(Insider Tip: If you answer 25+ questions, you become a Seabird!)

How to Get Started with Gamification

Free the Ocean and the Home Run Challenge are certainly not the only two non-profits utilizing gamification, and their methods aren’t the only ones out there.

Here’s a few more ideas for inspiration:

Digital Raffle

Asking users to answer trivia questions for a ticket into a raffle has many benefits – engages users, captures email addresses and keeps people coming back. 

...and Animation

While the game will keep users engaged, a little bit of razzle dazzle will make them smile. Adding some confetti (where appropriate) is an easy pop of excitement to celebrate a win or a met goal.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6vzvGBIWi3E

Other Gamification Ideas

By combining incentives and enjoyment with the importance of your mission, you can create a unique opportunity for engagement. But you don’t need to reinvent the wheel to see results.

Progress Bar

Let your donors know how close you are to the goal and how they can help you get there.

Shoutouts

All your donors deserve to be recognized. Give an occasional shout out to help strengthen the relationship.

Countdown Timer

If your goal is time sensitive, you’re absolutely going to want to slap a countdown timer on it.

Measuring Success with Metrics

There are many abstract benefits of gamification, like the fun and community that are created. But in order to truly determine if your strategy is a success, you need to look at other metrics. Donations, of course, are one measurement.

But there are other engagement metrics you should factor in as well:

  • Unique visitors
  • Time spent on site
  • New users
  • User-generated content

Are you looking for help getting started with gamification?

Contact Mittun for a free assessment today.

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