A Billion + Change is a national campaign to mobilize billions in pro bono and skills-based volunteer services from corporate America in 2013. In this installment of A Billion + Change's Innovations in Skills-Based Volunteering series, Gabe Zichermann shares Gamification Corporation's pledge to the campaign-- unlocking intellectual talent through Play for a Cause.
Everyone has the ability to generate ideas - and every organization needs help ideating.
Ideas can help organizations grow or overcome obstacles limiting success in the near term. Although it's often overlooked in favor of more physical or cash-based volunteerism, intellectual "donations" can be very powerful in helping non-profits achieve their missions. While most organizations use their internal stakeholders to ideate solutions, we have developed a highly successful methodology that allows groups of individuals to play a game to help non-profits solve their most vexing problems.
Players love the game (and the sense of doing good), non-profits benefit from the free intellectual capital, and corporate/foundation underwriters get to drive a great deal of Return on Investment with minimal expense.
Play for a Cause
The process is called Play for a Cause, and we've used this approach to drive ideas for nonprofits as diverse as the World Wildlife Fund, The Boston Science Museum and Accion. The basic idea leverages the power of gamification - or the process of using game thinking and mechanics to engage users and solve problems - to drive results.
It's a game that can be played by as many as 100 people, lasts less than 60 minutes, produces a winner and typically generates hundreds (sometimes thousands) of thoughtful insights, solutions and market research tidbits for the organizations involved.
I describe the game in my forthcoming book, The Gamification Revolution (McGraw Hill, April 2013), along with other examples of gamification being used to change business and expand the effectiveness of CSR strategies. But what we've learned from running this exercise with nearly a thousand participants over the past few years is that people really want to give back.
Even when they don't know the charity and have paid to be at an event we organize, they invest deeply in playing our game for a number of reasons: they desire to give back, they are curious about how the game works, they want to interact with others, and some, want to win.
The Real Power of Gamification
This multi-layered motivational dynamic is part of what makes gamification so powerful. It's an approach that allows us to design for motivational states and drive user behavior in ways that is transforming industries, organizations and movements.
It's not new to the CSR world - AT&T, a fellow A Billion + Change pledge, for example, has invested heavily in a gamified educational project called GameDesk that aims to reform K-12 education. GameDesk is a nonprofit research, game development and outreach organization that is creating the next generation of digital learning software and curriculum. Their focus is on closing the achievement gap and to engage low-proficient students in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) learning. By embedding STEM content into game-centered projects, GameDesk is focusing on fostering students’ sense of purpose, ownership and personal relevance.
At our upcoming GSummit on April 16-18 in San Francisco, we’ll be offering our Play for a Cause sessions to hundreds of attendees. At GSummit, attendees can earn official gamification design certification, hear detailed practical examples of what works and what doesn't from the experts themselves, network with the world's top gamification designers and vendors, and get inspired. As consumer & employee attention becomes harder and harder to obtain, you'll learn how many companies have utilized gamification to create loyal customers and engaged employees.
At Gamification Corp, we believe that everyone can and should give back in any way possible. With that, we joined the A Billion + Change movement and have pledged a handful of hours of pro bono work—and we invite more corporations to pledge.
Our “+ Change” will be implemented through our Play for a Cause sessions. We look forward to bringing together our GSummit community during Play for a Cause to help A Billion + Change achieve their goal of inspiring 500 businesses to pledge billions of hours of pro bono service to build the capacity of the nonprofit sector.
As for what we've learned through Play for a Cause, it is the power of skills-based volunteerism and gamification to change the world. You too can use the core principles of gamification in your CSR program to transform the way you engage with non-profits and your key constituents. After all, everyone has an idea and a wide range of reasons of why they'd like to share it.
Help them unlock their potential and they'll help you unlock yours.