Our first-ever attempt at the Extra Life gaming marathon was a success. We raised $800 for the Children’s Miracle Network of Hospitals and had an amazing time doing it. Any fears I had going into it were quelled by the outpouring of support from family, friends, and the broader gaming community.
Even so, I wasn’t ready to rest on my laurels. Going into 2019, I wanted to make a bigger impact. Generate more donations. Put on an even better show. Get more involved with the cause. Before I close the door on this year’s campaign, it’s worth looking back on the areas where growth occurred and other aspects that still have room for improvement.
This post grew out of control real fast, so I’ve decided to split it into two parts. This is part one, covering everything leading up to the marathon!
Joining the Extra Life Toronto Guild
This year, Extra Life was near the top-of-mind from the start of 2019. The Extra Life Toronto Guild hosted a kickoff meeting and I decided to attend and sign up. It was a really positive experience to make new friends, see exactly how our contributions make a difference, and join a movement. It was neat to be able to follow the group’s activities through Discord and I would periodically keep in touch with fellow Toronto Guild member Literally Tony.
I picked up the first shift I could at Breakout Toronto and had a great time learning the processes and educating others on the cause. However, I haven’t been around to work events or make appearances at meet-ups ever since. No one to blame but myself for that. It was great to make the connection, but I aim to be more involved in 2020.
The Tetris 99 Mini-Campaign
Another aspect of the Extra Life experience that I wanted to incorporate into this year’s campaign was some sort of fundraising efforts beyond the marathon itself. I racked my brain over what that could be right up until I announced the Tetris 99 campaign that would run for the month leading up to the marathon. By making donations after each top 5 finish, I was able to leverage my donations as entertaining content while also using it as an opportunity to promote the big marathon and inspire others to make donations. Doing this created a much larger ripple effect than just me donating that same amount of money in private.
The plan worked. Those streams were some of the best performing solo streams I’ve done to-date. A number of viewers who found my channel through the Tetris 99 campaign came by to support during the big marathon. Most importantly, we raised an additional $185.15 that may not have happened without this mini-campaign.
With a Little Help From My (Family and) Friends
During the lead-up to the marathon, I also put a lot of work into promoting this campaign to family and friends. This is a tactic I picked up last year. Inspiring strangers online to donate is incredibly difficult, especially when you’re a small streamer without an audience. Around the time of last year’s marathon, my channel only had about 60 followers with an average of 1.6 viewers per stream.
My inner network may never watch my stream or understand how a gaming marathon works. Thankfully, they do care about me, trust me enough to know that I’m not trying to scam them, and understand what it means to donate towards our local pediatric hospital. When I reach out to them via email, Facebook post, or Facebook direct message, I heavily rework my messages to focus heavily on helping our local children’s hospital. With their support, they contributed $484.85 to the campaign. Before the marathon had even started, we’d raised a total of $670.
The one aspect of this approach that I really need to improve on is clearly explaining the difference between Extra Life and my local pediatric hospital. I’ve received feedback that some were confused by me talking about SickKids Hospital in Toronto, but then the URL says Extra Life on it. Instead of shooing Extra Life to the back, they would probably feel more comfortable if my communications outlined what Extra Life is more clearly.
The Pokemon Playing Card Giveaway
At the last minute, I decided to incorporate a giveaway. Heading into EGLX, I figured that I would be able to find something to hook potential donors in. This time, I decided to give away cards from a pack of Pokemon playing cards designed by an independent artist. For those who donated $20 or more, I would send them a signed version of this card, along with a thank you note.
I hope it inspired some to donate that might have been on the fence. Maybe it inspired some to donate a bit more to reach the quota. However, I knew this was meant to be a thank you to donors more than anything. Maybe in the future, I’ll have the budget to incorporate a high-value giveaway. Whatever tactic I go with, I hope to better support it by promoting the offer throughout the campaign instead of just at the last minute.
Speaking of which, Extra Life incorporated support for custom milestones just before game day. I could have set up incentives that were triggered when we reach certain dollar amounts, but it was too late in the process for me. Will have incentives in mind going into next year!
Making a Marathon – Part 2
The second part will cover everything related to marathon itself. From who to invite, to where the camera was placed, to what was on the menu for dinner, there were a lot of things to consider. Will be back another time to cover all of those aspects of the big show and more!