Charities try their luck with online game amid a slowdown in cash donations and government funding; “Charities are looking to innovate, and reaching new audiences is the Holy Grail.”

April 16, 2013 12:00 am

Charities try their luck with online game

By Henry Mance

Leading charities are aiming to raise $1bn from an online game, in their latest effort to swap rattling coin collections for the digital marketplace.

Jaro.com, which is supported by 11 big charities including Age UK and the British Red Cross, will charge players of its battleships game $10 to enter a knockout tournament. Users will decide how to split their entrance fee between a particular good cause and a jackpot prize.

The move highlights charities’ increasing engagement with new technology, amid a slowdown in cash donations and government funding. The Disasters Emergency Committee announced last week that for the first time one of its appeals had received most of its donations from digital platforms, rather than by post or phone.

Computer games, which are played by about one in three people in the UK, have excited particular enthusiasm as a way of raising funds while engaging donors.

Jaro.com is aiming to sign up more than 100m users worldwide within 12 months.

“It’s not a traditional gambling product – it’s a social game. It gives people a new way to control where the money goes. That’s the key difference with the lottery,” said Anthony Farah, head of Jaro.com.Some charities have designed their own games to raise awareness on issues such as climate change and forced labour. PlayMob, an organisation which links UK charities with game developers, says it has raised $55,000 for good causes since launching in 2012.

However, philanthropic games face strong competition, with hundreds of commercial rivals released each week.

“We’re just at the start of understanding what we can do with games,” said Tomas Rawlings, creative director at Auroch Digital, a games consultancy. “There’s no point in creating a version of Angry Birds. But if you do offer something different, you stand a chance.”

There are particular hopes that charitable games will bring in younger donors. Charities currently rely on over-60s for over half of their donations, up from about one-third two decades ago, according to a study by the University of Bristol, although the rise is partly explained by demographic shifts.

“Games are an up-and-coming thing,” said Peter Lewis, chief executive of the Institute of Fundraising, a backer of Jaro.com. “Charities are looking to innovate, and reaching new audiences is the Holy Grail.”

About bambooinnovator
Kee Koon Boon (“KB”) is the co-founder and director of HERO Investment Management which provides specialized fund management and investment advisory services to the ARCHEA Asia HERO Innovators Fund (www.heroinnovator.com), the only Asian SMID-cap tech-focused fund in the industry. KB is an internationally featured investor rooted in the principles of value investing for over a decade as a fund manager and analyst in the Asian capital markets who started his career at a boutique hedge fund in Singapore where he was with the firm since 2002 and was also part of the core investment committee in significantly outperforming the index in the 10-year-plus-old flagship Asian fund. He was also the portfolio manager for Asia-Pacific equities at Korea’s largest mutual fund company. Prior to setting up the H.E.R.O. Innovators Fund, KB was the Chief Investment Officer & CEO of a Singapore Registered Fund Management Company (RFMC) where he is responsible for listed Asian equity investments. KB had taught accounting at the Singapore Management University (SMU) as a faculty member and also pioneered the 15-week course on Accounting Fraud in Asia as an official module at SMU. KB remains grateful and honored to be invited by Singapore’s financial regulator Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) to present to their top management team about implementing a world’s first fact-based forward-looking fraud detection framework to bring about benefits for the capital markets in Singapore and for the public and investment community. KB also served the community in sharing his insights in writing articles about value investing and corporate governance in the media that include Business Times, Straits Times, Jakarta Post, Manual of Ideas, Investopedia, TedXWallStreet. He had also presented in top investment, banking and finance conferences in America, Italy, Sydney, Cape Town, HK, China. He has trained CEOs, entrepreneurs, CFOs, management executives in business strategy & business model innovation in Singapore, HK and China.

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