Catching Donors with Pokémon Go


Everyone knows that a robust social media presence is central to engaging existing and potential donors, and so keeping an ear to the ground is essential. If you're a nonprofit, you have to wonder: What’s going to be the next Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, or Instagram, where we’ll need to grow our online presence and donor engagement?

Well, we might have an answer now. Who would’ve thought that the app to top Twitter’s daily users, tally more installs than Tinder and boast more user engagement than Facebook within weeks of its launch would be……..Pokémon Go?

The mobile game, developed by Nintendo and Niantic (formerly a Google offshoot), has become the most popular mobile app in the U.S. ever, with a peak of 25 million daily active users.

The most compelling part of the game is the way it uniquely connects the digital and real worlds (via “Augmented Reality,” or AR). Since users have to get up, get out, and explore the real world in order to catch Pokémon, the app has actually made people much more active on their feet — music to the ears of any organization or business looking for more online-to-offline engagement.

Small businesses have seen significant foot traffic being driven to their storefronts by a feature of the game called Lures, which “increase the rate of Pokémon generation in the area around the PokeStop where they’re placed for one half hour.” Not surprisingly, nonprofits are also already thinking about how to leverage Pokémon Go to raise money for charity. In upstate New York, the Children’s Miracle Network at Albany Med hosted a Pokémon Go meetup in a park to raise awareness of their national gaming day fundraiser.

Pokémon Go might seem like a trivial gaming fad, but in reality the app offers huge potential for social good by encouraging people to throw donations along with their Pokeballs.

Here at DipJar, our team is always thinking about creative ideas on how to help our nonprofits drive more people to their DipJars and maximize their in-person donation potential. Below are four ways to think about becoming a master trainer when it comes to catching donations with Pokémon Go:

1) Host a Pokémon Go Meetup

From Chicago to San Francisco, people are organizing and attending Pokémon Go meetups by the hundreds and, in some cases, thousands. Although the game is not quite a multiplayer experience yet it is still very social. There is a strong sense of camaraderie among players as they explore the real world together and encounter areas populated by rare and highly coveted Pokémon.

Creating a Pokémon Go meetup sponsored by your nonprofit organization is a great way to have people congregate around the game while also learning about your cause. If you have a DipJar, bring it along with you to capture donations while they capture Pokémon! You can even consider Pokémon-themed treats to really go all in on the theme.

10-year-old entrepreneur Miranda and her Pokéstop Shop in Elizabethtown, KY. Blue, red and yellow DipJars collecting donations, anyone? (Credit: Reddit/Aimeebalamie)

10-year-old entrepreneur Miranda and her Pokéstop Shop in Elizabethtown, KY. Blue, red and yellow DipJars collecting donations, anyone? (Credit: Reddit/Aimeebalamie)

2) Add a Pokémon Go theme to your next fundraiser

Whether it’s a bake sale, pet adoption day, charity dinner or gala, incorporating Pokémon Go into your nonprofit’s next event can increase both engagement and donations. For example, if you’re holding a fundraising raffle at your event, consider offering a 2-for-1 special to Pokémon Go players who attend.

Trying to get more passersby to stop by your dog adoption day in the park? Drop lures throughout the duration of the adoption event (both at and nearby) to pull in even more people to check out the available real pets while they search for digital ones. Add a Pokémon Go-specific sign to your DipJar to catch more eyeballs and build more foot traffic to your table. There are many simple ways to add a Pokémon theme to your fundraiser that can draw more people and make giving to your cause even more fun.

3) Lure people to your on-site location

If your organization has a brick and mortar location at which you’re collecting donations, you’ve got a prime opportunity to get more people through your door and engaging with your cause with Pokémon Go. Put up signs outside that tie your cause into Pokémon Go and attract new visitors that could turn into your next donors:

  • “Drop by our food bank. Lots of Pokémon crawling around our warehouse!”
  • “Parents with Pokémon trainer kids - try a swim class at the YMCA. Squirtle lifeguard on duty at all times!”
  • “The perfect Pokémon Go companion - adopt an animal from our shelter today”

Some businesses choose to offer special deals and discounts to goods and services for Pokémon Go trainers, but sometimes all you need is just a fun message that resonates with this audience to get them through the door.

4) Retail Partners

Many of our nonprofit customers, like Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals, work with retail partners to collect donations at the point of sale.

If you’re running a cause marketing campaign in a store or set of stores, talk to your retail partner about incorporating Pokémon Go — setting lures to drive new business, then referencing the game in donation signage and calls-to-action. Even better, if those retailers carry Pokémon-branded products, put them closer to your donation box to draw even more attention to your cause.

Point-of-sale-integrated cause marketing solicitations can suffer from high friction when consumers just want to pay for their items and be on their way. Creating an eye-catching, timely, and fun theme can make the difference between a would-be donation and an actual one.

Closing Thoughts:

DipJar aims to make charitable offline giving spontaneous, simple, and fun. Pokémon Go is the perfect sort of companion to what we do — it thrives on engaging people out in the real-world.

Sure, you can ignore Pokémon Go, treating it like a frivolous fad that will soon run its course. Or you can capitalize on the moment to capture new supporters and donors — especially hard-to-engage millennials, who, with the right encounter and solicitation can become long-term supporters of your cause. Catch them while they catch their Pokémon!

Are you planning on incorporating Pokémon Go into your organization’s fundraising strategy? Share them with us on Twitter @dipjar or reach us here.