Running a charity TTRPG event can be a really rewarding experience for GMs, players, and stream audiences alike. I’ve been lucky enough to coordinate events for Extra Life for three years, as well as one-off fundraising events for World Central Kitchen. I’ve participated in a number of charity events too, and have seen how many of them work from both the organizer and participant sides. They can be really complicated with a lot of moving parts. I wanted to provide some handy tips for organizing events, based on several years of organizing fundraising TTRPG events.
Know your charity.
Figure this out before you do anything else. You’re going to have a really hard time getting people on board to play if you don’t know who you’re playing for. Knowing your charity also means researching them, making sure they’re a legitimate organization (if you’re in the US, looking for a 501(c)(3) designation is a great start – this means they are a recognized non-profit), and that you know (and can stand by) the work that they do. You’re going to need to talk about them on your stream, in your marketing materials, and to the people you want participating in the event. Make sure you can do them justice.
Go one step further, though, and also make sure you know if they work with your chosen fundraising platform or if they have their own, and how you can track donations when they start pouring in. Sometimes, when it’s a smaller organization, you can even reach out to them and let them know what you’re doing. They may be able to help provide you with resources for your big event.
Schedule your event.
Don’t book a bunch of people and then hope everyone’s schedules will work out. Everyone will end up frustrated trying to schedule something, and you’ll likely lose participants. Be able to approach the people you want to invite to DM and/or play with the date and time you want your event, and then tell that to your invitees.
Some other things that are important to consider:
- Is this a one-time event for three or four hours, or a whole weekend of games?
- How many sessions do you have?
- What time do they all start, and do you have a buffer between each game in case one runs long?
- Did you account for tech checks and camera setup before the game starts?
Invite your participants.
If you’re not doing your event with your usual group, know how you want to invite participants. This might be via direct invite in a message, or putting out a casting call on social media. There’s no right or wrong way to do that, it’s up to you to decide. But you’ll get a much more accurate answer and headcount if you’ve scheduled your event already.
Consider your production needs.
If this is just one game and you’re already used to streaming with a set group, this would be easy. Perhaps an extra graphic and if available, a donation ticker on your overlay. If this is a weekend long event with multiple streams, I strongly recommend having multiple people able to produce your streams. They don’t need your Twitch login, only your stream key, which you can change between each stream or at the end of the event, and that will prevent accidental streaming to your channel in the future (or the need to change your password again…).
Do you need additional art or overlays? Organizations that frequently work with gamers (such as Extra Life) often have overlay content available, as well as graphics and videos that can be used during your streams to talk about their needs, what they do, and what they’ll use the money for. Smaller organizations may be able to provide these at your request.
How do people donate?
Get familiar with how donations work. Are you using Tiltify? A website designated by the organization? Can people donate ahead of the event, or only while it’s happening? Make sure you know, and can share this for marketing purposes. You’ll also want to share with your participants how it works, so they can hopefully help spread the word and solicit donations.You’ll want to make it as easy as possible to donate.
Additionally, consider if your game(s) will have donation incentives that affect the game in any way. If so, make sure there’s a way to include these in your overlay so people know what their donation amounts will provide for the game.
Spread the word.
However you chose to do that, cast a wide net on social media to let people know about your event, your charity, and your participants. Graphics with information on them can be really helpful. If you plan to use a QR code, include the link – not everyone on a mobile device can access a link from a QR code image. Hopefully your participants will share the event too! If you’re excited about it, they will be excited about it.
The most important part is to have fun during your event. If you’re having fun, others will too – and really, that’s what it’s all about!