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Tuesday, November 13, 2018

DraftMates Brings Gamification to Fundraising


How effective is that donation button on your website? What if you could apply the power of competition to encourage more consistent giving and attract new donors? Using online game playing as a fundraising technique might just be a means to do it.

A Better Way to Connect

“We think there is a tremendous opportunity to offer more ways for nonprofit causes to raise money in a more engaging way,” says Matt Golis, founder and CEO of DraftMates, a new fantasy sports platform geared for nonprofits that is expected to be released as an iOS and Android app near the start of the 2018 NFL season.

The human love of games is innate, as anyone knows who has ever watched a baby play peek-a-boo. People also love to support causes they care about, and Golis is counting on the power of combining those two loves. DraftMates is a fundraising platform that uses fantasy sports as the application.

“This is a much more engaging way to connect than a ‘Donate Now’ button,” Golis says. “This is a way to have that thrill of competition, to see how the people you pick in your lineup perform. And if you are the winner, you are a part of how that nonprofit raised money.”

How It Works

DraftMates raises funds for nonprofits in two ways. First, a charity can create a public contest. The nonprofit invites its donors and supporters to play through social media and email campaigns. Each nonprofit has a custom URL, so that when a supporter downloads the app, the system recognizes the cause that they are playing for. The player sets up an account, picks players and enters a payment method.

The nonprofit determines the amount of the entry fee and receives 85 percent to 90 percent of that fee, with the remaining 10 percent to 15 percent going to DraftMates. The split varies according to the size and reach of the nonprofit. Larger organizations with more supporters will pay DraftMates a lower percentage.

While these public contests can be one-time events—say, just for the opening weekend of the NFL season—Golis is encouraging nonprofits to establish more consistent giving through weekly contests. “We hope many people will look at the value of building up the buzz and momentum around doing weekly contests, and over time the number of players will continue to grow,” he says.

The other way to play is for a group of friends to create their own private league. They can play purely for bragging rights (which is free), or set an entry fee and play for charity. The group can choose a single charity to receive all the entry fees, or each individual can choose their own charity.

DraftMates requires benefitting charities to be registered as 501(c)3 organizations, and a built-in integration with GuideStar quickly verifies each organization’s tax-exempt status. For the player, one benefit of the platform over other fantasy sports apps is that the entry fee (minus DraftMates’ cut) is tax-deductible.

Building Momentum

Initially, Golis is focusing on encouraging high schools and colleges with strong sports teams to set up contests for their alumni and supporters. Once the app is live, he plans to approach NFL and NBA teams and individual athletes, encouraging them to run contests to benefit their foundations or favorite charities.

“There is a whole variety of people in the ecosystem of the [pro] leagues that would benefit from this,” he says. “And because they are already associated with the sport, the people following them will already be familiar with the players and probably with fantasy sports. They are one of the ripest audiences.”

Golis also expects momentum from the public and private contests to feed into one another. Nonprofits’ public contests could spark interest among supporters who want to start their own leagues, for example, or charities could start getting checks from the winnings of private league players and decide to hold their own contests.

Could Gamification Benefit You?

Gamification can potentially help an organization in several ways:

  • More consistent giving. Games are a way to keep your donors coming back and giving on a weekly basis.
  • More affordable giving. Whereas a donor might balk at a $100 one-time gift, a $10 entry fee is easier on the budget. And those that enjoy the game might end up playing multiple weeks.
  • Better engagement. Most fundraising campaigns don't provide an avenue for the nonprofit to stay in touch with donors. Games provide reasons to reach out and connect with your supporters after they've made their gift.

While Golis believes that any nonprofit could benefit from setting up a contest, he acknowledges that those with donors who are already sports fans are likely to have higher participation rates.

Nonetheless, with so many organizations competing for donors’ attention, it may be worth exploring this new way to connect. Gamification, says Golis, “brings the fun of competition, the fun of everyone supporting a good cause, and also a unique opportunity to get that consistency in giving.”

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