I had a very worthwhile trip down to Exeter on Friday for the second Like Minds events. It was a social media conference and they had some excellent speakers lined up. Tickets for the afternoon were a bargain compared to London based events and the whole format of the day was excellent.
I'll write up some general notes and how they relate to fundraising in the next few days, but one of the big ideas I took away from the day was how can we use computer games and augmented reality in fundraising.
Games in Fundraising
There are quite a lot of viral games that charities use to promote an event or campaign (see these from Comic Relief), but these are usually pretty superficial. The only game I'd seen by a charity that was massively linked to it's work was 'Darfur is Dying'.
In it you have to do a series of tasks with refugees in a camp, such as gathering water from the well and avoiding the militia. As well as demostrating the problems faced by refugees through the game, it also has an impressive call to action section as well. I'd guess it would be hard to ignore this once you'd played the game and it directly connected the game, the cause and what you can do about it.
Launched in 2006 the game was a first and has attracted academic attention and a write up from the mainstream media, including the Washington Post.
A quick search on google also turned up Games for Change and the Serious Games Initiative.
These sites try to use games to bring about change in a variety of areas and to improve management and leadership. It's really interesting stuff and although you might think it's not going to help you raise any money any time soon, I wouldn't completely write it off.
The cost of producing such games is coming down and if you can come up with a compelling concept that is tied closely to your mission and engages your audience then it will naturally lead them to want to do more for you and give support.
I quickly jotted down a few ideas that you could possibly turn into games that could help you fundraise:
- An environmental activist game where you have to keep the developers away from a number of protected sites (think Swampy!)
- A strategy game (such as theme park) where you have to manage the
resources of a charity that shows the difference fundraing makes to
- A wildlife charity where you have to protect the animals from poachers or keep the whales safe (actually I've just found out that Greenpeace already do this).
- A series of lab based tasks to show the importance of research for a medical research charity.
Unsurprisingly, there are also a series of interesting articles over at Beth Kanter's blog on games and non-profits.
Augmented Reality, Geo-Tagging & Fundraising
'Augmented what?' I hear you cry!
Don't worry, I was the same and you can find a full explanation at How Stuff Works and a good list of it working in practice at the Guardian.
It means using applications to add additional information when viewing normal objects through smart phones or webcams.
Now it's probably going to be 3-5 years before this stuff becomes really mainstream, but the barriers to entry are low and there are probably a few 'toe in the water' things you can be doing with this sort of thing:
- Make sure your locations (head office, projects, retail shops etc) are marked on Google Maps/Earth and have your contact details on them. If you're being really fancy, you could ask your IT team to develop some simple scripts to update the tags with a key message or promotion on rotation.
- Adding information for participants at an event to enhance their experience.
- Giving a 3-D virtual tour of a project when it's impractical to visit.
The presentation these ideas came from
One of the great ideas from the conference was to get each of the speakers to host lunch at a local restaurant and to talk about a specific topic. I chose Joanne Jacobs' lunch where we discussed the use of games.
She was then one of the keynote speakers for the afternoon and went into more detail about augmented reality, geotagging etc. You can watch her presentation (it starts 5 minutes in) or read a review over at the Guardian. It was certainly thought provoking stuff.