“Gamification” is all the rage right now. It is tremendously popular in systems design as well as education and instructional design, and it refers to the process of creating a system of earned rewards based on desired behaviors.
Think in terms of “badges” that you earn for completing a workout. Or how about “trophies” for virtually checking-in at certain places on an app. These small tokens of accomplishment have a surprisingly strong effect on behavior.
Here’s an example. I was teaching a band camp and we were away at a out of state campground for 5 days. The first 3 days were good – very productive rehearsals and lots of positive energy from the kids and staff. When we moved into Day 4, the energy lagged, body language sagged, and the attention spans began to wane. We were pushing hard to complete the show before breaking camp to come home, and to accomplish that we needed to pick up the pace.
I can’t remember exactly HOW I came across them, but I had acquired a packet of STAR stickers (I know, that’s really odd!). I brought them out to the field without telling the staff or the kids what I was doing. I walked up to the most locked-in, intense, focused kid in the band and just took the stickers out of my pocket, grabbed his dotbook, and stuck it on the front. When it was time to reset back to the previous drill setpoint, he sprinted back to his dot (as he always did), but a few kids noticed what I did. Suddenly they began running back to sets, focusing on the rehearsal ettiquette, listening, counting or singing phrases of music like their lives depended on it.
Now in the span of about 5 minutes, a marching band of about 220 kids completely turned around their band camp fortunes. All it took was $2 worth of stickers to do it. The rest of the staff wasn’t even in on it, but the kids caught on quickly and were killing themselves to get the recognition of another sticker.
Now – apply the same principle to garden-variety fundraising. It’s a little tougher with old-school “product” sales, but some vendors do offer some degree of incentivization. When I look at the FansRaise system for crowdfunding, band boosters, band directors, and fundraising coordinators can really take advantage of the gamification we’ve built into the platform. We’re measuring behavior from sections and illustrating those metrics via the member dashboards. Shortly, we will be taking this further to provide more opportunities to get the kids excited to become hands-on with the campaigns.