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.