Gamifying the donation process

Nathan Baranowski


Peer-to-peer fundraising can be transformational for a non-profit seeking to engage supporters and secure the resources necessary to scale their social impact. However, as powerful as this strategy can be, the success of any campaign hinges on a charity’s ability to get people excited about parting with their hard-earned money. 

Fortunately, charities have an ace up their sleeve in the form of gamification, a concept which is changing the way charities are able to boost participation and encourage donations from their supporters. In order to play this card, however, they must fully explore the avenues available to them.  

We’ve first-hand experience of working with gamification, including our current work with Wiltshire Air Ambulance to create a new mobile app. The aim is to raise awareness of the costs of flying their helicopter just over £10,000 a day - and inspire people to support the cause. We’ve built an engaging platform game in which users are tasked with keeping the helicopter flying for as long as possible, avoiding obstacles along the way. 

Far more than your standard helicopter platformer, the game incorporates famous South-West scenery – hot air balloons, Stonehenge and the Bath Half Marathon, making it hit home with potential donators. Once they’ve tried their hand at powering the helicopter, users are prompted to donate to Wiltshire Air Ambulance Charitable Trust.  

We think the app will prove a success – we wouldn’t be making it otherwise. By including game mechanics into a peer-to-peer fundraising campaign, charities can capitalise on the enjoyment and competitive element of video games to make fundraising more fun and appealing to the public. Our Wiltshire Air Ambulance app is just one example of how gamification can work for non-profits, but it’s far from an exhaustive list – in fact, charities can use a number of elements from games to keep participants engaged, involved and encouraged to donate.  

How? It’s simple, really.  

By providing a clear aim, users are guided to complete an action and rewarded for their efforts by the sense of accomplishment received. People by nature are hardwired to respond well to rewards; we seek them out and feel satisfaction from the sense of completion we gain from finishing a level, coming first in a race, beating the boss or holding on to the top spot on a leader board. Games are fun for us because of the dopamine that is released from achieving a milestone.  

Just as a coffee shop gives you a loyalty card to collect stamps or your LinkedIn shows a completion percentage on your profile, gamified charity donation apps tap into basic principles of human psychology and biology to draw people in to support an important cause. If supporters of charities already feel a sense of reward from donating, incorporating game mechanics can only aid in enhancing this feeling.  

There are many ways of increasing competitiveness, like social media badges for participants who reach a certain target, for example. What may seem like a small addition to a digital campaign can reward active fundraisers and encourage those in their social networks to reach the same goals. Some charities even use badges to spark competition between participants or teams as if they were trophies; the badges being upgraded each time fundraisers accomplish a new target. 

Similarly, peer-to-peer progress thermometers – for want of a better word – can incentivise fundraisers to keep going. Take a sponsored marathon, for example: as the day of the run draws nearer and the thermometer creeps towards its goal, a sense of urgency is created that encourages donors to help the fundraiser reach their target amount.  

If implemented correctly, gamification can trigger a surge in engagement – however, for a non-profit to see success, they must ensure alignment between the goal of the game and their own strategic objectives. Through gamification, charities have a unique opportunity to educate the public and incentivise them to take action, whether that’s through fundraising, contributing to research or even just one-off donations.  

Of course, it’s not always easy knowing where to begin and what to include. From full-blown simulations such as our Wiltshire Air Ambulance app to simply adding leader boards, badges and progress bars to a social media campaign, the world of gamification is vast: to reap the best results, charities should seek the support of specialists in the field who can help them develop solutions that reflect their unique ambitions.   

At OJO Solutions, we have the skillset to do just this. No matter what your cause or your budget is, we can help you tap into the realms of gamification to truly engage with your audience. Get in touch with us to see how we can help, by emailing or calling 01225 220155. 


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