Would you believe me if I said that as a gamer, you can make a tangible difference in the world, while indulging in the hobby you love?
It’s true. There is a plethora of ways gamers can make a difference in the world – from hosting their own Twitch charity fundraisers, to purchasing games through HumbleBundle and Amazon Smile. It’s easy, and it won’t cost you any more money than you’re already spending. Here’s what you need to know.
HumbleBundle: Buying Games, Giving to Charity
At the time of writing, it’s selling a bundle of narrative-focused titles with a collective value of $111. If you want to get every title in the bundle, you can pay a minimum of $10. That’s less than 10% of the list price.
But what people often overlook is that HumbleBundle lets you choose where the money goes. Whatever you pay can be split between the developers, HumbleBundle (to cover the costs involved with processing payments, staffing, and servers), and charity. This is probably the easiest way for gamers to show their altruistic side.
When you choose to donate to charity, it will go to one of the organizations chosen by HumbleBundle. This changes on a week-by-week basis, but the American Red Cross and Child’s Play make regular appearances.
You can also choose to send a portion of your payment to a charity of your own choice. There are tens-of-thousands of UK- and US-based philanthropic organizations to choose from, including every charity that’s registered with JustGiving.
This is something I do personally. I’ve chosen the Thembinkosi Foundation. This small UK-based charity is run by one of my former teachers, and supports educational initiatives in Zambia.
You don’t have to buy bundles, either. HumbleBundle runs the Humble Store, which sells pretty much anything that’s available on Steam. While you can’t choose the percentage that goes to the developer, HumbleBundle donates 10% of the purchase price to your nominated charity.
Twitch: Host Your Own Stream-A-Thon
The desire to watch other people play video games has turned Twitch into one of the biggest websites in the world. Streaming has become a cottage industry, and streamers are the rock stars of 2016. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that these platforms are being used to raise money for charity.
According to Twitch, almost $8 million was raised in 2013 for charitable causes by members of their community. That’s incredible.
The way it works is pretty simple. A Twitch user will host a stream, and solicit donations during the broadcast. The donations will then be sent to a nominated charity. Some streamers also donate the advertising revenue from the broadcast.
Sadly, Twitch suffers from an infestation of griefers and trolls, many of whom have taken to disrupting charity streams. One of the cruelest pranks I’ve seen was committed by a teenage troll from Australia, who would donate large sums (often tens of thousands of dollars), only to issue a chargeback one month later.
Amazon Smile: For Everything Else
Amazon is great. It’s usually cheaper than other online retailers, and Amazon Prime’s free two-day shipping (one-day, if you live in the UK) make it more convenient than heading to the shops. I use it for everything from grocery shopping, to buying books and computer accessories.
If you need to pick up some RAM or a new SSD, or if you’re in the market for a graphics card upgrade, there’s a decent chance you’ll be getting it from Amazon. So, why don’t you share some of the money you spend with a charity of your choice?
Amazon Smile is an opt-in program that shares 0.5% of each eligible sale with a charity of your choice. Most major charities are included in the program, including gaming charity Child’s Play.
While 0.5% doesn’t sound like much, it adds up. If you buy $4,000 worth of stuff from Amazon each year (which isn’t really unusual), you end up donating $20. If everyone does it, then it adds up rather quickly. Especially when you consider that Amazon earned $107 billion in revenue in 2015 – a sizable portion of which likely came from sales made in the United States.
Get Well Gamers: Donate Your Old Hardware to Hospitals
Some people like to hoard consoles. They build small museums to retro gaming in their homes, amassing stacks and stacks of old and well-cared for hardware. Others tend to stick to one console at a time. When another generation of Xbox or PlayStation comes out, they’ll list their old device on eBay or Craigslist.
The thing is, you probably won’t get that much money for it. The price of an Xbox 360 on Amazon has crashed, to the point where you can now get a console for under $100. A better option would be to donate it to charity.
In the UK and the USA, Get Well Gamers accept donations of consoles, games, and accessories. These are then donated to hospitals, who often lack the budget for such things. In the USA, Get Well Gamers will even give you a receipt, allowing you to write your donation off against your taxes.
Unfortunately, Child’s Play doesn’t accept used consoles – it recommends that people instead list them on eBay and donate the proceeds to it. eBay handles the donations process. All the user has to do is ship the item.
However, it might be worth contacting hospitals in your local area (especially those with pediatric wings) and asking if they accept donations of games and consoles. While some don’t, many do.
Over to You
Have you found a great way to support charitable organizations as a gamer? I want to hear about it in the comments below.