For the last two years I have participated in a charity called Extra Life. At its heart, it is a charity that raises money for sick kids as part of the Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals. They support 170 member hospitals that provide 32 million treatments each year to kids across the U.S. and Canada. Donations stay local to fund critical treatments and healthcare services, pediatric medical equipment and charitable care. So basically, its a pretty awesome and worthwhile cause. Last year, I supported John’s Hopkins because they took care of my childhood friend when she was ill, and this year I am supporting Duke since several family members there work as nurses and doctors. Its something good and worth donating to, and I’ve managed to make it have a personal connection to my life each year. Overall, it’s not so different from Relay for Life, Breast Cancer Awareness Month, or a thousand other charities out there that do good work. Oh, and the charity gets a 91/100 on Charity Navigator which is great after finding out Susan G. Comen and some others are just basically large ad campaigns.
However, for some reason it always gets a blank look when I try to explain it to family and friends. “Wait, you’re playing videogames all day? Why give money to that?” People ask time and time again. See, Extra Life is a charity run by the gaming community. Instead of walking in circles around a high school track field, or attending a charity dinner, this charity encourages groups to get together and play games to raise the money. For some reason, its a hard sell. Its the same end result, but suddenly the fact that it involves videogames and something ‘lazy’ makes people balk. And I’m left wondering why? Why are a gamer’s efforts to raise money less worthy than a soccer mom’s or a college kid’s? People see the fund raising activity and make judgements, and seem to forget all about the cause behind it.
Why is it that a charity walk is an easier sell than a gaming marathon? Is it because of the gamers, because the activity isn’t strenuous enough? The Ice Bucket Challenge for MS was a silly, fun activity and it helped raise tons of money for MS research. If a charity brings people together and makes them want to participate, shouldn’t that be a good thing? I for one am so proud to see that nerds have banded together to support a charity. Each year, gaming journalists will stream games and interact with fans, conventions will put on contests while donating to the charity- its a great way for a community at large to give back. And yet, last year I only managed to get 3 donations. I sent emails and talked it up, but people were so confused they didn’t donate. They heard ‘videogames’ and completely disconnected.
This year, I am playing down the involvement of gaming at all, just to try and raise money. When people ask what the activity is, I have point blank said “It doesn’t matter, I’m raising money for children’s hospitals”. I might host friends over to play board games that Sunday, but that doesn’t really matter. I’m just trying help give to a good cause. I admit, my experience with fundraising and charity is limited, so maybe I am going about it wrong. But I know, from experience, that when it was a charity walk it was so much easier to get donations. It was an easier conversation and an easier sell. And I’m still not entirely sure why. Its not about the walking, or the gaming, its about supporting a good cause.
If you want to donate, you can click here to check out my Extra Life page.