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Angela Simo Brown – Director of Social Change Strategy and Co-founder
AIR MILES for Social Change, AIR MILES Reward Program/LoyaltyOne
Gamification is here to stay – and charities would do well to use this concept to make giving fun. It is important for charities to capitalize on our human habits and desires in order to grow donations in a shrinking donor base environment. We like games, we like our phones, and we like being winners. We also are looking for purpose and meaning and how we can make a difference. Mobile gamification for charitable causes can give us what we need.
And it doesn’t have to be complicated or expensive either. Instead of building a game from scratch, charities should look to a corporate partner to co-create the solution. One example is mobile game developer XEOPlay who created Tilt World, a game that helps to reforest Madagascar. Points earned in the game translate to tree seeds purchased for and on behalf of the tree-planting charity WeForest. XEOPlay’s goal is to plant 1 million trees in Madagascar, which is suffering from the effects of deforestation. Another example is Games for Good, who donates a fraction of a cent to charity every time you play their games. Or more simply, it can be a voting game, like Fido and Evergreen’s 2011 ‘Share Your Care’ program. Fido donated $100,000 that was divided between 20 different local environmental projects based on Canadians voting online for their favourite project.
AIR MILES for Social Change has been partnering with different charities for the past 4 years by using reward miles as a carrot to increase giving and engagement with nonprofits. We infused gamification and behavioural economics motivational concepts into these initiatives with good success and have learned a lot in the process. Here is a list of top 5 lessons we’ve observed on how charities can best engage with today’s donor:
- People give to be personally recognized, not necessarily because they are emotionally connected to the cause: People like to be seen giving – in fact for many nowadays this is the main reason they give. They want their peers to see the good they have done, and some are defining their giving as a social measure of their personal success. So a tax receipt and thank you letter just aren’t enough anymore. Charities need to make sure that they are giving the types of recognition that people want today, and often social media recognition to the most cost-effective tool to use.
- People give to support their friends vs the cause more than ever: Fundraisers where donors reach out to their network have been around for years. These programs are generally more successful because people like to support their friends. The next evolution of fundraising is in driving more value from peer-to-peer donor networks. Crowdfunding is exploding. See the amazing success of pooling platforms such as Kickstarter, Indiegogo and Causevox. Charities should piggyback off of these platforms and capitalize on their popularity.
- People want frequent touch points of thanks and celebration for their giving: Social media has trained us all to expect frequent virtual hugs and celebration by way of badges, trophies, congratulations and thank yous. We want to be told all the time how good we are. Rightly or wrongly, these are the new table stakes and charities need to give this recognition and appreciation to their donors more frequently. The thanks and recognition can be small, fleeting, and inexpensive to deliver at a regular cadence via social media.
- People want experiences to be social and fun: Gamification is one way to do this, as well as events where donors can be active participants, plus consumer-led social media movements like the Ice Bucket Challenge. Although movements are a fleeting and time-limited way to fundraise, the way that people engaged with the Ice Bucket campaign is different than ever before. Making giving into a game has proven to be a great way to engage a high number of people across multiple demographics and regions, and is an emerging trend that charities can’t afford to ignore.
- Youth want to make a difference hands-on: Youth want to tangibly experience the difference they are making, and just making a donation to an organization to do the work for them doesn’t suffice for this cohort. They want to donate their time, energy, spirit and dollars to grassroots organizations, and the most successful programs are going to be led by youth. See the popularity of giving initiatives such as community Giving Days, or PhilanthroTeens.” In addition to the hands-on experience, youth want to be able to share their experiences with others. Social media and games are the best way to engage the new youth donor segment.
The other key success factor is of course, mobile. People love their phones and the more they can do with their phones the more they will engage with your brand and the cause.
A megatrend of our time is that people are actively looking for new and impactful ways to make a difference. Charities offer up all the things we are looking for but they need to proactively shake up the way giving is done today. Gamification, crowdfunding and behavioural economics will be three key elements for successful, fun and rewarding giving programs of the future.
Angela leads the shared value, cause marketing strategy and program development for the AIR MILES Reward Program, Canada’s premier coalition loyalty program. Under Angela’s leadership, AIR MILES has developed over 25 innovative program partnerships across the public, nonprofit and private sectors that have driven record increases in positive behavior change in healthy living, energy conservation and increased transit use. An engaging speaker, Angela has spoken at many conferences about the power of creating shared value using social change and cause marketing strategies.
President and Creative Director, Barefoot Creative
I am a storyteller.
I personally write hundreds of appeals and newsletters every year. I love crafting a fundraising offer – it is personal, attention-gripping and, yes, it can be transformational. But let me share a tiny insight – a challenge I run into almost every day.
Fundraising organizations exchange organizational information for the power of a story. I have no idea why. We know that a story engages far more centres in the brain. We know that a story invites the readers to read more. We know that stories motivate compassion and response.
It seems to me fundraising organizations should be champions of storytelling.
Perhaps it comes from the misnomer that education happens in a lecture. I’m not sure who started that myth. I know that educators world-wide perpetuate it. But it is simply not true. Current studies in brain response to story affirm the power of storytelling
As a young student I attended two graduation exercises. The same speaker spoke at both of them. Idealist that I am, and the fact that there was significant overlap in the audience, I expected him to deliver 2 different speeches.
But he didn’t.
Fascinatingly, I didn’t catch on until his first story. Then, as I listened more attentively, I realized that he hadn’t bothered to change anything. I only remembered the story. It seemed to me that he would have been brilliant if he had simply replaced the story – no one would have known. The most poignant memory of his speech was the story.
The story challenges the listener or reader to link analogies, discover the journey, build the bridges between characters. Most of all, the story introduces us to people who are like us and not like us – but just enough like us to make us interested in their lives. Listeners and readers immediately begin to solve the story’s core problems, cheering for the hero and booing the villain. The brain imagines the scene, the character, the problem and the solution.
The great storyteller begins with an innate sense of curiosity. The storyteller is on a quest to understand why and who and how and what and where. They want to understand the poignant details. (Join me at the national AFP conference…. I’ll share concrete examples there)
My husband just doesn’t get it. Seriously (but then, he’s not a story teller). When he gets off the phone with his mother – I have about 57 questions. Did he think to ask one of them? Curiosity didn’t kill the cat – it got the story. (More at the conference… )
Your depiction of the people in the story must be human – even if they live in another country, there are thousands of ways they can relate to your audience. You need to find them in your neighbourhood, down your street, in the mall… you can make them human by the way you describe them. As the longevity and universal appeal of Shakespeare has illustrated many. Many times – the human story has not changed all that much.
As a writer/fundraiser/ storyteller you tell some extremely difficult stories. That is a distinct gift. Hone it!
Gayle is the founder and president of Barefoot Creative. For more than 20 years she has been walking alongside nonprofits, helping to develop and implement fund raising strategies that inspire donors to engage and contribute. Her academic background and graduate degree in Canadian Literature and Post-Modern Critical Theory inspire a unique approach to applying foundational fund development and marketing strategies to help non-profits grow. She will be presenting at Congress 2014 in Toronto.