Charity streaming becoming more popular as a way for organizations to raise money during COVID-19

Posted at 6:18 PM, Apr 21, 2020

Luncheons, car washes, bake sales -- a lot of fundraisers have been canceled over the past couple months due to COVID-19. Nonprofits and other organizations are now having to pivot to more unconventional ways to raise money.

One solution is streaming.

“So today since we’re supporting Doctors Without Borders, the game I’ve selected to play is Surgeon Simulator,” Marc Almanzor said. “My followers and subscribers on Twitch and YouTube know me as King Kong Rong.”

Almanzor plays games for others to watch on streaming services like Twitch and YouTube, sometimes to raise money for different organizations.

On this day, it was for Doctors Without Borders, an international humanitarian organization raising money to help respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Right now, MSF’s emergency medical teams are mobilizing around the world in response to the COVID-19 crisis," Leila Fuleihan, marketing manager for fundraising events with Doctors Without Borders, said. Doctors Without Borders is also known as Médecins Sans Frontières or MSF.

The organization has been using charity streaming as a way to fundraise for a few years, but due to stay at home orders across the world, it’s becoming a more popular option.

“It is the perfect time to really build up a streaming program because people are at home. People are already on a screen looking at their computers or TVs,” Almanzor said.

“Online and streaming fundraisers are such a great way for people to mobilize and get involved from home especially now,” Fuleihan said.

“It’s kind of like the Jerry Lewis Telethon from back in the day. You know you had someone who would get on TV and do some entertainment to raise money for a cause,” Almanzor explained. “This is kind of like that, but kind of the more 2.0 version. Instead of TV, now we’re doing it on the internet.”

This is how it works: A streamer picks a game to play, streams it through a streaming platform, and sets up a payment processor to collect donations. All of this could potentially require less overhead than a typical fundraiser.

“There's a lot of overhead with physical events. Not so with live streaming because most of the cost is borne by the streamer. We already have all the equipment,” Almanzor said. “It’s an opportunity to reach a demographic that is both young and willing to engage.”

Finding ways to reach donors is even more important right now as our interactions with others are being limited.

So we asked Tim Delaney, president and CEO of the National Council of Nonprofits, what this means for these organizations.

"There seems to be two reactions. One is the hunker down and sometimes people are afraid to do anything because they're not quite sure how to interpret their feelings. That's very dangerous, this is a time for innovation,” he said. “It’s a very devastating time for nonprofits.”

He explained that online “is going to be the ticket for a while”.

Streamers like Almanzor who already have the experience, can play a big role in helping others right now, and fast.

“It’s a great fundraising tool because of that speed,” Almanzor said. “It’s that immediacy that really appeals to this generation, you know, the instant gratification.”

Gaming isn’t the only thing you can stream to raise money.

“It’s definitely not limited to gaming. You know music, singing, chatting, cooking, sports, board games, basically anything you can think of you can stream,” Fuleihan said.

“Those people who are innovative and creative are finding ways to reach out and connect with people,” Delaney said.

As luncheons and bake sales get canceled, organizations are finding more creative ways to engage their donors through the screen.

“I encourage organizations and streamers to continue using this vehicle for good,” Almanzor said.