Streaming is a big industry. In the fourth quarter of 2021 alone, Twitch generated $74.97 million through in-app purchases like subscriptions and donations. Most of this revenue goes straight to big-name, multi-millionaire streamers like Nick Mercs, xQc, and Ninja.
But to their credit, many big streamers host plenty of charity streams that make a big difference and further positive causes. StoneMountain64 has raised over $550,000 for various charities, and Jacksepticeye has collaborated with various streamers to raise millions of dollars in aid of Thankmas.
But you don’t need to have millions of followers or aim to raise thousands of dollars to host a gaming charity stream. Even small donations to worthy causes make a big difference in the day-to-day operations of charities. So even if you’re a brand new channel, it’s worth gaming for a good cause.
Choosing Your Charity
Many charities are worthy of your time, money, and effort. That said, you do need to pick a single, credible charity if you want to make a meaningful impact. But unless you immediately know who you want to work with, choosing a charity can be hard.
First off, you need to choose a charity with which the majority of your viewers can empathize. This means that you should generally gravitate towards causes that are universally understood like homelessness, medical emergency fees, or research for illnesses. You may also choose a charity that is close to your heart, because after all, your viewers are there to support you.
Once you’ve determined which charity you want to support, you’ll need to reach out and ensure that the charity will accept your donation. Almost all charities will accept the funds you raise, but it’s worth emailing them first just to double-check.
It’s also worth noting that you don’t necessarily have to make monetary donations to your given charity. There are plenty of ways to donate to charity and sometimes your time and effort are the things that folks need the most. You can also ask your viewers to donate things like hard goods and material items, as shelters and non-profits are often in dire need of canned food, clothing, or furniture.
Choosing the Right Game
In all likelihood, your chosen charity won’t care which game you play and will be happy to receive a donation. However, some games simply don’t align with charitable causes, and the optics of playing a game like “Call of Duty” while raising money for refugees might be a little too on the nose.
Of course, you should still choose a game that you love and will raise viewership. The game you play makes a significant impact on the number of viewers you’ll receive on Twitch and other platforms. Just try to be sensitive to the contents and themes of video games that might not align with your chosen charity.
You’ve chosen your charity and the game you’ll play during the stream. You’re now missing one final ingredient — hype. Charitable streams thrive on hype because viewers love the idea of something meaningful happening while you stream.
You can build pre-stream hype by creating announcements on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. These announcements will contain key details like the time, place, and the name of the charity you’re supporting. Images and graphics can also be used to describe yourself and your charity a little more as this will enhance your appeal and increase the intrigue around your stream.
You can also build pre-stream hype with a few tactics like countdown timers and by producing high-quality video content. As a streamer, you probably have the skills necessary to record and edit a video that builds hype and shows a combination of your gaming highlights alongside information about your chosen charity.
Finally, make sure the content you produce commands folks to share your posts and spread the word about your upcoming charity gaming stream. This will bring folks to your stream who would otherwise not be interested in gaming. The chance to go viral via a social media post is also always worth the extra time and effort.
Viewers will only donate to your stream if they understand your cause and see it as worthy of their donation. As the person hosting a charity stream, it’s your job to raise awareness and appeal to your viewers’ ethics when discussing your chosen charity.
Start by creating a stream banner and title that tells your viewers about the goal and the charity you are raising money for. Ideally, this should be formulated in a simple sentence like “Raising Money for Cancer Research.” You can include other on-screen graphics like a real-time donation counter or a bar that tracks your progress towards your fundraiser goal.
Spend the time between rounds and games educating your viewership and answering their questions. This will take some preparation, so be sure to create a packet of information that you can refer to if your mind goes blank. This packet should include:
- Background information on your charity — when were they formed, where do they operate, their mission statement, and other pertinent info;
- Your relationship with the chosen charity;
- The difference that donations will make — clearly stating how the funds will be used such as directly benefiting the purchase of new bedding in homeless shelters;
- Testimonials from the charity that stand out and are useful for reference material;
- Any other information that will appeal to your viewer’s hearts and minds equally.
If you ever run out of things to say, head to your chosen charity’s website and scan their pages for more information and heartwarming stories. You don’t have to be an expert on your charity, but you do want to put forward a well-informed persona — folks will not make donations if they are confused in any way.
Keeping the Donations Flowing
Viewership ebbs and flows during any stream. One minute you may have thousands of viewers, the next you’ll have less than a dozen. The key is to roll with it and aim to maximize the donations at peak times. This will make the most of the investments you’ve made in your stream setup and time spent researching the charity.
Shoutouts and rewards are the best way to keep the donations flowing. Viewers love hearing their names and reading out their comments or questions on-air is a great way to enhance your gaming stream. You should pay particular attention to any messages or comments you receive that are connected to your cause in some way, as these will deepen your sense of community and invoke others to donate their time, money, or physical items.
Collaborating With Others
Cross-stream collaboration is a great way to raise your profile and get more eyes on your stream. Bigger streamers will be particularly open to partnering with you if you are collaborating with a charity, appear to be well put-together, and authentically care about your cause.
When collaborating with other streamers, look for folks who stream on a different schedule to you. This means that the donations will keep on flowing in even when you have logged off. Just be sure to choose a streamer who shares your values and can be trusted to represent your chosen charity well.
You can help the folks you collaborate with present your cause by sharing the packet you made earlier. You can also allow them to edit the material to add their own research, deepening their engagement with the chosen charity.
If you struggle to find willing folks for collaboration, try reaching out to streams with smaller viewership than yourself. Streamers are always keen to collaborate with people that have a larger following, and they’re likely to be interested in showcasing their live-gaming channel as sustainability-focused and compassionate. This, in and of itself, can garner new viewers and increase loyalty.
Streaming for charity is a noble endeavor. However, you need to do some serious planning and preparation instead of just setting up a GoFundMe and going live. Start by making contact with your chosen charity and asking what they need the most. Try to build some hype around your stream by creating shareable social media posts and collaborating with others. This will drive greater traffic to your page and help you reach your fundraising goal.