What is gamification and how can it serve your nonprofit as an engagement tool?  First, gamification is the use of game-thinking and game mechanics to engage an audience and reward contributors. Playing upon a person’s natural desire for competition, achievement, status, self-expression, altruism, and closure, gamification can help improve user engagement, awareness, ROI, data quality, timeliness, and learning.


 For the past several years, the for-profit business sector has been using gamification as a means to engage their customers, expand their brand to a wider audience and increase revenue.  Think of the platform Foursquare and how businesses reward customers with points, badges and even discounts for checking in at their business. 

 And now charities and nonprofits are adopting the concepts of gamification to incentivize giving and donor participation on behalf of their cause.  Here are three ways nonprofits can use gamification to engage their members. 

 1. Rewarding participation

From attending events to making a donation to sharing a Facebook post and more, nonprofits can essentially quantify a members’ level of participation in the organization.  In turn, the nonprofit can “reward” its highest scoring members with incentives like special recognition in the annual report or a badge to display on social media or maybe a t-shirt from the organization.  This can give your members the incentive to earn higher levels or status.

2. Rewarding follow-through

Nonprofits can also use gamification to encourage their members through visual representation to complete an activity or project. This is especially useful to nonprofits or organizations that have an online community for their members.  For example, a member could track his or her completion of vital community-forming activities/steps, like completing a profile page or submitting a registration, with a sliding bar indicator or other visual measurement tool. People do not like unfinished tasks, so this indicator reminds them to finish what they started to reach that 100% complete mark. 

3. Reenergizing your volunteers through competition

Gamification can also be used as a mobilization tool by inspiring a bit of friendly competition between your members or volunteers.  If, for example, you have recognition for a top volunteer or top fundraiser, you can incentivize your members to compete for the spot.

Gamification and game-thinking are well suited to the nonprofit sector.  They allow nonprofits a fun, creative way to engage their members and keep them interested.  For other ideas on how to utilize technology in your nonprofit, check out the E-samaritan blog or contact E-samaritan