Charities and their supporters are using live streaming as a platform to raise millions online – here’s how you can join them.
We all remember the glory days of the telethon – the celebrity-studded live, televised fundraising event. Live fundraising broadcasts like Comic Relief and Children in Need still rake in millions for their prospective charities, but in the internet age the telethon formula is evolving.
The rise of live streaming means that anyone with a webcam can broadcast live over the internet, interacting with the audience in real-time. Streaming platform Twitch estimates that fundraisers raised more than $75m for over 100 different charities between 2012 and 2017 on just its service alone.
The immediate interaction between streamer and their audience creates intimacy and engagement like never before. Instead of the broad net cast by the traditional telethon, streamers often draw in niche audiences of fans, and choose to advocate a cause that is personal and meaningful to them, which makes it very effective.
The main types of streams run by live stream fundraisers include:
Charities also run their own live streaming events for fundraising and marketing such as:
Here are our top tips for charities to get started:
Choose your live streaming platform
When choosing which platform you will use to broadcast your live stream or enable your supporters to fundraise from, it’s not all about which platform has the most users – it’s important to research where your audience is, considering the kind of message you want to promote and who is likely to engage.
The current front-runner in live streaming is Twitch, the Amazon-owned platform which has around 2.2 million daily streamers and a wider audience of 15 million daily users.
Although much of it started out very grassroots and there are still a huge number of small-scale fundraisers, Twitch has been the platform to boast big annual fundraisers like children’s cancer charity St. Jude’s annual event, which has raised more than $10 million over the last five years.
The platform is predominantly for video games. with fundraisers leveraging the enormous success of live streaming in the gaming community, so if your charity’s audience is younger this could be the platform for you.
With some of the most popular streamers commanding audiences of thousands on a single stream, asking for small amounts can really add up.
However, if your charity is looking to broadcast your own live stream video you might want to explore other platforms such as YouTube Live and Facebook Live.
YouTube Live is the streaming side of YouTube - anyone with a webcam can stream almost anything and videos are saved to view on-demand as well as watching live. It’s currently trying to corner the market from Twitch by grabbing up contracts with major e-sports broadcasters.
Facebook might be a good option if your charity has already built a following, or that’s where your audience is. Anyone can stream anything through its live-streaming platform Facebook Live, and the company provides a few tips and ideas on fundraising.
Did you know you can even stream live video on Instagram?
Make it easy for fundraisers
If you’re thinking of encouraging supporters to fundraise through Twitch or another live stream gaming platform, you could do worse than to look at the example of Cats Protection.
The charity has obviously done it’s research and has chosen specifically to focus on the platform where they know they have supporters, and to make it as easy as possible for gamers to start up their own fundraisers by becoming a ’Pawsome Player.’
Their dedicated web page provides instructions and tips for fundraisers to get started, ideas on how to raise the most money in their stream, and lots of Cats Protection material for players to use including cat case studies, factsheets, logos and a customisable poster.
The key is to help fundraisers to tell the story of your charity by providing a suite of storytelling tools that they can use to drum up support with viewers: think messaging, digital branding and maybe even a bite-sized video they can use in their stream.
Connect with the right fundraising tools
Once you know what you’re going to stream, how will you collect donations? You might want to consider whether asking viewers to go to a separate platform will put them off donating. You need a simple way for streamers to integrate fundraising into their streams.
Twitch provides a number of extensions for charities, including the ability to integrate streams with JustGiving pages.
Facebook also recently got in on the live gaming action by announcing a suite of fundraising tools for Facebook gamers to take donations in their streams.