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  • Writer's pictureIgor Radic

Step-by-Step Gamification Plan to Raise Millions for Your Non-Profit

Funifier Gamification Non-profit NGO

This guide walks you through the planning, designing and implementation of gamification in your non-profit organization to drive large-scale engagement and raise millions in funds for your cause.

Raising funds and getting people to care about your cause is challenging. You are up against the entire internet in a race to keep the attention of your supporters, for even just seconds of time…

Sure, running ads on social media and hosting giveaways helps raise the needle – but is it practical to drain your resources to get new people coming in, paying attention for about eight (8) seconds and bouncing off the page?

If you started an environmental initiative and needed to encourage people to plant trees – not once or twice, but consistently over months, would digital ads hold their attention?

Gamification is proven to help you retain donors and volunteers for months – to engage and excite them consistently over a specific amount of time. It can help you change people’s behavior, get them to care about your cause, and motivate them to be a part of it.

Only, it is not as simple to execute successfully, as a digital ad. What works for one non-profit may not work for another for various reasons, e.g. audience, channel, time, upfront resources and more.

Gamified campaigns must be tailored for every organization and the corresponding call to actions they want people to take. Broadly, you can develop and roll out a gamified campaign in three (3) stages:

  1. Analyze

  2. Design

  3. Monitor.

Gamification Stage 1 – Analyze

  1. What is your objective, and how can we make it tangible?

  2. What is your budget to achieve this objective with gamification?

  3. Who are your target users, and what motivates them?

  4. How can you characterize, segment, and reach your target audience?

It is crucial to define your goals, target audience, user personas and KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) before drawing up your gamification strategy. Most companies skip this stage and jump right into the design, which ultimately leads to confusion and failure. This first analysis stage also entails justifying gamification to see if it is even the right choice to achieve your goals.

Action Steps for Analysis

  • Define Objectives and Requirements: For this example, let us assume you are raising $70,000 in the next 40 days and getting more donors from referrals are your two (2) primary objectives. Other goals are increasing DLV (Donor Lifetime Value) and increasing newsletter sign-ups by 30% through the campaign’s duration. Use the framework below to rank these goals and pinpoint all associated requirements for each.

  • Analyze User and Context: There is a consensus among gamification experts that campaigns can succeed only with a profound understanding of your targeted audience, their motivations, behavior, and interests. You need to build a game that entertains your users and engages them for hours while leading them to take specific actions. This is achievable by having an in-depth knowledge of their interests and behavior – fundamentals in this process.

Context determines the backdrop of your gamified campaign, including the resources, platforms, and technologies accessible to you. For e.g., constraints such as being limited to running a social media-based campaign, versus building an app/game from scratch, are grouped under context analysis. Context also drives your key success metrics (KPIs) that track the program’s success – please refer to our Measuring Gamification blog for more insight on this topic.

Done correctly, these analysis blueprints will help you sharply define your goals, requirements, resource constraints and target users.

Once you have a clear idea of the four fundamental areas in the first stage (Analyze), you can use them to design a custom gamification strategy that works for your non-profit.

Gamification Stage 2 – Design

  1. What sort of game design mechanics line up with your context and your target user’s motivations?

  2. Do your design ideas align well with the famous Octalysis Framework?

  3. How do you design, test, and refine prototypes?

You have a bucketload of quality information about your users from the previous stage – now what? No matter how solid your analysis is, an ill-defined design can sway the odds against you.

What is gamification design? Design seems to refer to the interface, icons, and buttons of the product – but design entails a lot more than that. Gamified design is a thoughtful alignment of elements like badges, points and leaderboards in a structure that is driven to entertain a person’s most intrinsic motivations.

What is the difference between gamified design and any random assortment of elements that make up a product? Gamified design is never arbitrary. It is backed by a deep understanding of the user’s motivations, aligned to fulfill their need for purpose and get them to take certain, predetermined actions – in this case, the goals you decided for your non-profit.

Action Steps for Design

  • Brainstorm and Consolidate Ideas: Experts agree that getting your team to brainstorm design ideas is the natural first step in this stage. It gives you something tentative to work with and pushes the team out of the analysis-paralysis that an overload of information can cause. It is important to make sure this ideation phase focuses on fulfilling the user’s intrinsic needs, desired behavior, and target outcome, rather than on technology or game elements.

⭐ Quick Tip: Find an individual that fits the persona you defined earlier to brainstorm design ideas with you. Ask them to remain authentic to their interests and come up with ideas they would personally enjoy and engage with.

  • Integrate a Gamification Framework: Once you have a list of design ideas, pass them through a predefined framework to judge which ones cater to your user’s desires and will drive action, which in turn will help you hit your goals with this campaign. Without a framework, you just have a bunch of partially arbitrary ideas to take to the prototyping phase.

The Octalysis Framework is one of the more popular frameworks experts use to consolidate their ideas. It was developed by Yu-Kai Chou, a well-known name in the gamification space, who spent almost a decade studying the driving forces behind human motivation, especially in the premise of games. Observe if your ideas align with any of the 8 core motivation drives. Without these, people will simply not be compelled to participate in your game.

While some experts swear by the Octalysis user motivation framework, others often pivot to the Playful Experiences (PLEX) framework to verify the effectiveness of their design ideas. Costello and Edmonds put together 22 backend elements that make games like GTA and The Sims 2 extraordinarily engaging for the player. It combines ideas from renowned publications and is rooted in views of philosophers and game designers.

Ideas that make it through either one of these frameworks and align well with your context and user analysis are shortlisted for the final design.

The design includes the player’s entire journey through your game and the underlying reason why you want them to undergo the touchpoints. Keep in mind that unless the ideas shortlisted complement each other and can be woven together in a gamified journey, it will be impossible to put together a prototype.

  • Develop and Test Prototypes: The initial step to building a concrete prototype is usually drawing it out via sketches or wireframes that align with the touchpoints you determined in the previous stage. Note that designing a framework requires an iterative approach that improves constantly, to ultimately help you raise funds for your non-profit.

Bringing on a developer who has experience with game prototyping and design optimization is highly recommended.

Gamification Stage 3 – Monitor

  • How do you evaluate the success of your gamified campaign once it is live?

Monitoring the results of your gamification efforts and what you can do to continuously improve, helps you achieve and surpass your goals in the long run. Surveys, playtesting, rapid A/B testing of specific touchpoints your users seem to be struggling with, are all examples of gamification monitoring.

You can read more on how to monitor your gamification solution in Funifier’s blog post: Measuring Gamification in its latest blog.

Successful Non-Profit Gamification

SaverLife is helping thousands of lower-income American families save. The non-profit leverages Funifier’s gamification solution to motivate people to take control of their financial future. You can read more in the article: The Non-profit Unlocking Millions in Savings.

Done right, gamification can help you raise funds, engage donors, and make them passionate advocates of your cause!

Funifier Gamification Octalysis

Igor Radić,

Funifier Partner & CEO



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