News and analysis
November 23, 2015

Backed by Huge Audiences, Video-Game Stars Get Into Giving Tuesday

Jimmy Kets, Reporters, ZUMAPRESS, Newscom

During Save the Children's #GamingTuesday, gamers and YouTube stars, such as Athene, will encourage followers to make donations for children around the world.

A new Save the Children campaign kicking off Dec. 1 aims to tap into the passion of a new, younger audience: video-game players.

On what the nonprofit has dubbed #GamingTuesday, gamers and YouTube stars will encourage their followers — which sometimes number in the millions — to make donations and serve as a "life force" for vulnerable children around the world.

"We’re taking the ‘d’ out of fundraising and making it fun-raising," said Ettore Rossetti, Save the Children’s senior director of social business strategy and innovation.

The gamer community has previously proven its charitable fundraising prowess. In January, for example, the Prevent Cancer Foundation raised $1.5 million through a video-game marathon.

$20 Million Raised

Save the Children has already benefited from the gamer community: During a four-year span, Athene, a popular player and YouTube star, raised more than $4 million for the nonprofit through his online platform, Gaming for Good. Matching grants from institutions brought the total amount raised to $20 million.

"That’s why we think creating a gaming holiday is something worth doing," Mr. Rossetti said.

#GamingTuesday also has the potential to attract new donors, Save the Children executives said. On past Giving Tuesdays, most donations to the group came from existing donors, Mr. Rossetti said. They tend to be middle-aged women. He hopes that Gaming Tuesday will reach young people of both sexes who may never have heard of the nonprofit.

"They will hear about the brand through their friends, through the gamers they follow," he said. "We view this generation of younger gamers as the next generation of donors and philanthropists."

Each donation will likely be less than $25, Mr. Rossetti said, but an anonymous foundation has agreed to give double the amount raised from gamers.

Thanking Donors, Gamer Style

Save the Children created a new website for the event, which will serve as a crowdfunding platform. Gamers can use it to create personal fundraising pages and pledge to play for periods up to 24 hours. The website will show a 24-hour livestream of participants playing video games.

As the gaming continues, staff members of Save the Children will use the page to answer questions about the nonprofit and tell stories about its work.

While learning about Save the Children’s mission may encourage some people to donate, the biggest draw, Mr. Rossetti said, is the chance to hear Athene and other big gamers personally thank each donor by name. "That type of interaction is why so many people are passionate when they follow him."

Send an email to Rebecca Koenig.