3 Tips to Boost Fundraising Results with Gamification

Nonprofit fundraisers are constantly challenged to find new ways to onboard new donors, connect with existing donors, and prompt them to make a gift. If your traditional campaigns aren’t yielding the results you want, you might try a new approach that includes gamification. Gamification involves turning your fundraising campaigns into a contest, challenge, or game, and is a great way to boost participation among your supporters to drive even better results and raise more dollars for your mission. 


Gamification is yet another tool nonprofit fundraisers like you have at your disposal to help strengthen your fundraising plan. Get started by following these tips for adding a fun element of friendly competition to your next fundraising campaign or event.

Understand the Dos and Don’ts of Gamification

If you’ve never thought about gamification in the context of your fundraising portfolio, you might be hesitant to jump in. The good news is that it doesn’t have to be overly complex to be successful! Consider these dos and don’ts: 



  • Clearly define your fundraising campaign goals. Think about what you hope to accomplish with gamification, including total dollars raised, new donors onboarded, and existing donors retained.
  • Understand your audience. Conduct research into options for a gamified campaign and consider a survey of all or part of your audience to gauge their interest. Next, look at the communication methods that have worked (and not worked) for your nonprofit in the past. 
  • Choose relevant game elements. Use the results of your research and think about how your audience might respond to them. You might also look for ways you can incorporate your mission into the game in some way.
  • Offer rewards and incentives. These don’t have to be expensive or complicated, but should appeal to your audience. Seek out donations for incentives when appropriate.



  • Overcomplicate your game elements. The simple answer really is the best answer when determining how you’ll gamify your fundraiser. There’s no need to add unnecessary requirements or complicated processes.
  • Overlook digital aspects. You’ll likely want to incorporate an online component (or run the campaign entirely online) so it’s key that you don’t overlook key digital aspects, like mobile optimization, data collection and management, and the donor experience.
  • Make it a cutthroat competition. The goal of gamification is fun and engagement; you won’t be successful if the entire focus is a battle.


For example, if you’re hosting a golf event with a corporate partner, there are a number of ways to gamify tournament add-on components to raise even more money from the event. Start by setting an overall tournament fundraising goal, as well as goals for each of the gamified elements. Consider these ideas:


  • Encourage participation by introducing a peer-to-peer fundraising component that leverages donors’ networks and competitive spirit.
  • Challenge your donors or employees of the corporate partner to solicit donated items for a silent auction, such as golf memorabilia or equipment, branded company merchandise, or gift baskets. Offer a reward for the person who secures the most items. 
  • Use an online auction platform that allows bidders to see who has the highest bid to encourage additional friendly competition.
  • Consider additional incentives to boost participation. Keep with the golf theme by offering a stay-and-play opportunity at a top golf destination for the top five contributors.


Craft Engaging Gamification Mechanics & Rules

Keeping participants motivated and engaged in your campaign is what separates successful (and lucrative) game elements from unsuccessful ones. Fortunately, with some forethought and planning, you can keep game elements exciting and appealing through the campaign. Here are some ideas:

  • Design a rewards system. This should be outlined before you launch your campaign, and clearly communicated to your audience. For instance, you might reward the top ten contributors or those over a certain dollar threshold with rewards.
  • Visualize the progress towards your goal. Showing your fundraisers their impact can be more impactful than simply telling them. One effective way to show how much money you’ve raised is a fundraising thermometer. Show it prominently on your campaign, event, or organization website.
  • Maintain a balance between challenge and attainability. This can be a delicate balance, but if your game is too difficult or too easy, supporters won’t be motivated to put their best effort into their campaign. Try to find a happy medium, and touch base with supporters to ensure that the challenges are just right and make any adjustments necessary.


Collect & Leverage Data

According to NPOInfo, maintaining an updated and organized database of fundraising information is crucial for future campaign planning. The same is true of your gamified campaign elements. Ensuring this data is complete and correct gives you a leg up for engaging donors in future campaigns. Fortunately, there are easy ways to collect and manage this data for incorporation into your donor CRM. Here are a few tips:

    • Use specialized tools. Whether it’s for your entire campaign or certain elements, look for tools that don’t need a bunch of workarounds or adaptations to be useful. Continuing with the golf tournament example, GolfStatus recommends using a software solution just for golf tournaments that makes it easy to collect golfer and sponsor information right at registration, with options to seamlessly integrate this information into your donor database. 
    • Track relevant metrics. There are many metrics your nonprofit could focus on during your campaign, but trying to monitor too many can dilute your data. Pick a few key performance indicators (KPIs) and concentrate your efforts on them to give you a clear picture of your campaign’s most important elements.
  • Use data to inform future campaigns. Don’t just let this valuable data sit around unused—look for trends and lessons learned that help you understand what worked, what didn’t, and what you can do better the next time around. 

Wrapping Up

Gamifying your next fundraising campaign or just adding a gamified element to an existing initiative can be a fun way to help boost fundraising dollars. Setting goals, pre-planning processes and systems, and collecting pertinent data are important to its success. The ultimate goal is to retain first-time donors and entertain your loyal supporters alike, giving them a great experience that makes them want to continue to engage with your organization.