Thanks to the millions of eyeballs glued to gaming celebrities like Ninja at any given moment, live gaming streams have become one of the most successful ways for charities to raise money.
“Geek philanthropists” often raise money for causes that align with their personal interests. But, inspired by their successes, big charities like Doctors Without Borders have also begun using Twitch and other platforms to game for good.
Bye-bye, bake sales
Charity has always evolved with technology: Fundraising flyers evolved into fundraising phone calls which eventually evolved into telethons. Now, popular game streaming platforms are growing more than 300% annually,
So the fact that fundraising has followed viewers to this new format isn’t surprising. But what is surprising is the scale of the sudden success: Twitch gamers raised $75m for charity between 2012 and 2017, and the amount raised annually on the platform is on track to hit a new high score.
Live stream philanthropy started out informally among groups of friends.
“Sometimes it’s just one person who streams a little bit, and their friends watch and donate some,” Jeremy Wells, fundraising events manager at Doctors Without Borders, explained to The Guardian. “It’s very grassroots, very reactive.”
But charity-streams soon evolved into larger — and more organized — operations. Now, GoFundMe and Tiltify offer tools specifically for streamers, and major streaming platforms including YouTube, Twitch, and Facebook offer specific tools and metrics for fundraising.
No, seriously — everyone is doing it
Gamers have audiences large enough to generate massive amounts of cash in almost no time at all: Famous Twitch-er Ninja helped St. Jude raise $2.7m in a weekend, and one gamer who goes by “Dr. Lupo” raised $356k in less than 4 hours.
Charities are prioritizing live streams to capitalize on their speed and scale: Last year, Doctors Without Borders relied on Twitch streams for $2.1m of the $4.7m it raised overall.
Charity streams are so popular, even Congress members are getting in on the action: Famously social-media savvy Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez made a cameo in a Donkey Kong 64 charity livestream this past January.