How charities are using gamification to research, to fundraise and to campaign

Gamification is about using game mechanics, such as rewarding behaviour through badges and creating competition through leader boards, to influence the player’s behaviour. It’s less about game play but rather about the psychology of people’s motivations to act in certain ways. Once we understand how people behave and what motivates them to act, we can create something meaningful to influence their behaviour in a way that is beneficial to us.

Here is a post I recently wrote for the Guardian Voluntary Sector on five gamification campaigns by Depaul, Save the Children, The Children’s Society and Cancer Research UK.

I’m currently working with social innovation company Loop Labs, who are developing a game to inspire adults to drive less and walk more, through the use of pester power, in order to create happier, healthier, safer and more sustainable cities to live in. We’re looking for kids aged 7-11 to give us feedback on designs for the game, Badgerscape.

Please spread the word, or if you can help then please tweet #meandmykidarein to @L00plabs


Just what is Gamification and could it work for you?

Last week I attended NFPtweetup where the topic was on gamification. Although the term was coined in 2002 by Nick Pelling, it’s only since 2010 that it started to become popular.

So just what is ‘gamification’?

According to WikipediaGamification is the use of game thinking and game mechanics in a non-game context in order to engage users and solve problems. Gamification is used in applications and processes to improve user engagement, ROI, data quality, timeliness, and learning.

Basically, gamification is about rewarding behaviour  through incentives using elements such as points, badges and leader boards. It’s not really all that new either, if you think about it….we’ve been doing it for years through raffles, tombola’s and off-line competitions.

David Whitney, Coding Technical Architect at JustGiving, who was on the discussion panel at NFPtweetup recommends reading Gamestorming: A Playbook for Innovators, Rulebreakers, and Changemakers.

So who, in the charity sector, is using gamification well?

Dryathalon medal

Dryathalon medal

Cancer Research UK – Ed Cervantes-Watson, Senior Innovation Delivery Manager at CRUK, spoke about Dryathalon at NFPtweetup and how successful it has been for them. They spent six months researching their target audience (young men) and came up with a concept that would work for them: giving up alcohol for January and rewarding them along the way with badges and a leader board. The result, to date, is 35,000 Dryalthletes and £3 million and counting.

Also take a look at their new project Cell Slider.

VinspiredBig Society’s Big Mouth project, powered by the volunteering charity, Vinspired asks young people to discuss the problems they face in their community then share ideas to make it better. Points are awarded for return log-ins, starting projects and polls, voting on polls and commenting on discussions etc. The more you interact, the more points you get and the higher you move up the leader board.

Greenpeace – you have probably already heard of the hugely successful VW: The Dark Side campaign where Greenpeace used gamification to pressure VW to drop their opposition of key environmental laws. Those who signed up to the campaign embarked on ‘Jedi Training’  and earned points for referring the campaign to friends. The more friends they referred who signed up , the more points they earned. They also earned points from views of their personal URL. The result was over 500,000 people campaigned, forcing VW to commit to making cleaner and more efficient cars.

Do you have examples of other charities using gamification well? Leave a comment below.

So, taking the elements of gamification, do you think it would work for your charity?

You can read the Storify of the NFPtweetup here and also an excellent ‘Best Bits‘ from a Live Q & A discussion on Gamification from Guardian Voluntary Sector Network.