Business Models that use game mechanics to support charity
December 4, 2011 Editor 0
Together with a client of ours in Vienna we’re working on the future of green mobility: transforming a vision on e-mobility in a viable business model. During our latest workshop I had a lively and emotional discussion with Craig, an ex-sales and marketing director of Tesla Motors. We didn’t always agree on how to push electric mobility forward but Craig is a wonderful guy. When leaving Vienna he pointed me towards the Global H20 Group where he takes up the C.O.O. position. They’re using the Causes.com platform to make people donate money to several water and sanitation projects in Uganda. This platform, Causes.com, has the same look and feel as the Kickstarter platform we discussed earlier.
Comparing both donation platforms I’ve got the feeling that Causes.com is leaving money on the table, which is sad of course. Just looking at Kickstarter.com you can see that people get a bigger reward depending on the amount they donate. A very important motivator to jack up the donations! Most projects on Causes.com don’t give anything extra when they donate more.
What could Causes.com do to improve their business model?
Make it personal
Based on our own experience with Kiva I would strongly advice to make a personal connection with the project you’re supporting. To give one example: Kiva.com reported that our loan to Jocelyn in the Philippines helped her in setting up her wine vending and coffee shop. These personal stories make your donation very tangible! But Causes.com can do better than this!
What about game mechanics?
Yesterday Empire Avenue launched EAvCares. Empire Avenue is an experiment on its own. Basically this website is a stock market simulation social network game that allows users to buy and sell shares of people and websites. Ok, that’s a full mouth of buzzwords, sorry about that. (e.g. My stock overview) With EAvCares user can now gain extra points and badges in this game when donating to real world charity projects. An interesting twist to mix both online and offline worlds!
A few months ago Zynga (company behind Farmville et al.) used their gaming platform to encourage players to make in-game donations. All they had to do was make virtual items, sell them in the game and donate this income to the Japan Earthquake Relief campaign. $2.5 million was raised this way. Very smart!
A third and last example in this field is the Walkathon iPhone app. When linked with a pedometer this app can track how many step you take during the day. When you achieve certain goals (e.g. x amount of steps) companies will donate a given amount to a charity event of your choice. You can imagine people will just walk that extra mile to activate an extra donation.
I hope Causes.com can borrow some of the ideas presented in these business models so initiatives like that of Craig can have bigger impact in the end.
picture by Chasing Butterflies
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