Nonprofit Mobile Gamification: Our Next Angry Birds?

Photo by Yutaka Tsutano

Editor’s note: Today’s guest post is from Tonia Zampieri. Tonia’s the Mobile Strategist for Atlantic Business TechnologiesShe has nearly 10 years of digital fundraising and marketing experience and launched one of the very first nonprofit iPhone apps, Tap-n-Give on iTunes in 2009.  She tweets regularly via @iheartcharity and can be reached directly at tonia.zampieri[at]

Well, not quite. But here’s a thought: how about mobile gamification harnessed to make FUNdraising more fun? Imagine this:

Your nonprofit has an annual fundraiser complete with an online giving machine *ahem* website. Your participants run the gamut of age, sex, and socioeconomic status, but the majority of participants are under 35. This group loves your cause, they tell their personal stories through their online fundraising pages. But other than a little growing thermometer (which in itself IS a game) any tangible “reward” (for lack of a better term) is non-existent.

The biggest reward of course is the good feeling that people get when they know they are touching lives like funding important cancer support services, saving a cat, even providing a meal to a hungry child. But in the end, we have this desire to get a little something extra, to have an experience within an experience, a WIFM (What’s in it for ME), if you will.

Consumer expectations regarding gamification are increasing as it spills into other areas of our lives. Why should this not be considered in fundraising? This is where our concept of nonprofit mobile gamification steps in.

Fundraising games on my phone?

So what if this young, tech savvy (smartphone-owning) set of fundraisers, could partake in a mobile fundraising game? The Badge gamification route has proven popular. You can get a fundraiser leaderboard tied into said fundraising platform, and offer some weekly/daily badges that auto-populate on their Facebook accounts that further influence their social circle, causing a gamification ripple effect. Another example is Spent, a game that let’s you experience what it’s like to be in the shoes of someone living under tight economic conditions.

And nonprofits can do it too?

What if every time someone donates to your page, a push message shows up on your mobile device offering to pop a virtual balloon for chances at extra goodies? The more they fundraise, the bigger the prize they could win. For example, when they’re starting out fundraising, they could go for a chance at free pizza through a mobile coupon, but once they reach $250, they have a chance at an hour massage, also through a mobile coupon.

Mobile devices are delivery vehicles to reach our supporters’ hearts and minds. Mobile gamification can spread far beyond raising money. Feelings elicit action, and action creates change.

Mobile Can Engage Donors

Opportunities abound concerning how mobile can deliver engaged nonprofit supporters- regardless of cause, so establishing an effective and thought-out strategy that aligns with your audience and desired outcomes is critical. Fortunately such an opportunity exists through a mobile strategy and technology grant contest.

Atlantic BT, based out of Raleigh, NC, is awarding $25,000 worth of mobilecentric services to one lucky nonprofit. 12 semi-finalists will win a free mobile strategy session.

Mobile marketing concepts like this are happening with retailers, why not with nonprofits?