Charity Live Streams: The $75 Million Fundraising Idea Your Nonprofit Will Love

Charity live streams are essentially the younger, cooler, trendier cousin of the charity telethon. And with the market value of streamed content expected to surpass $70 billion by 2020, there’s clearly money to be made in this exploding online industry — live streaming events for charity have already raised over $75 million so far with no signs of slowing down. Considering the low overhead cost to run a charity live stream, your nonprofit (no matter how large or small) can get in on the action too!

How Does It Work?

Nonprofits pair up with live streamers who have amassed a loyal online audience that tune in to watch whenever the host goes live. During their live stream, the host will raise awareness about the nonprofit’s mission, and answer questions from viewers about the issues at hand.

Streamers normally have a set amount of time to hit a specific monetary amount, so they often promote various incentives and goals that get incrementally more exciting for their audience. This model encourages viewers to donate in real-time, like in the example below:
 

Find The Right Platform For You

If your interest is piqued but you’re not quite sure where to start, here are a few resources that may be of interest to your nonprofit:
  • Twitch: Since 2018, Twitch commands about a million viewers at any given time, putting it on par in viewership with major cable networks like Fox News, CNN and MSNBC. Nonprofits pair up with popular streamers to raise funds, like this Fortnite gamer who raised over $300,000 for St. Jude’s Hospital during his 4-hour stream.
  • Tiltify: With over 400 registered charities and 40,000 streamers, this streaming platform is popular among organizations like the American Red Cross, Save The Children, and Make-A-Wish Foundation. It offers charity-focused tools like team fundraising, on-screen alerts, and incentives (polls, rewards, challenges) all designed to boost viewer excitement and generate donor activity.
  • DonorDrive: Its Live Fundraising™ feature paired with Express Donate™ allows supporters to donate quickly without missing any live action. Plus, your nonprofit immediately sees the funds deposited into your account, so it’s a win-win situation for everyone involved.

Fundraising Ideas For Your Live Stream

  • Speedrunning. The streamer plays through an entire game, or level of a game, as fast as possible to break a record. Often these speedruns come with additional rules (ex. no item upgrades allowed). For the gaming community, these record-breaking runs are an "utterly riveting” way to hook the audience’s attention — and then have your dedicated host redirect some of that attention toward your nonprofit’s cause.
  • Incremental Incentives. There are two ways for the host to offer a reward that encourage viewers to donate: 1) when one individual donates a specific amount (ex. $50), and 2) when the overall funds raised by the community surpasses a specific amount (ex. $5000).
  • Donation Matches. Ask a partner corporation to consider promoting a donation match during their live stream (ie. for every dollar donated by a viewer, the business will match it up to $2000). 

Post-Event Evaluation

Just like any other fundraising event you might host offline, you will want to evaluate what went right with this live stream fundraiser, what went wrong, and what could be improved upon for future events. Pretty much any reputable live streaming platform will have stats you can analyze after your live stream is done. Looking at these stats, you will want to ask:
  • What did your audience react positively to during your stream?
  • What, if anything, was a flop with your audience?
  • Which of your actions, incentives or goals got the most donations?
  • Which of these got the least attention?
  • How did your community react when rewards were given or fundraising goals were met?
  • Have you and your host thanked all your donors?

Charity live streams can be a lot of fun for everyone involved and can be a relatively low-cost fundraising idea! Plus, nonprofits in recent years have been wising up to the fact that it’s an effective and clever way of reaching the millennial (and upcoming Gen-Z) generations. There’s not much to lose, so why not give live streaming a shot for your next fundraising event?

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