Extra lives are for more than video games

Play games. Heal kids.

The motto of popular fund-raising initiative Extra Life inspires curiosity. What could be better than playing video games and helping people?

Founded in 2008 as an extension of video gaming website Sarcastic Gamer, Extra Life raises money for Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals through a yearly 24-hour event.

During the event, teams livestream themselves playing video games like “Call of Duty,” “League of Legends” or various others. Viewers of the streams then pledge money to whichever team they’re watching. At the end of the event, all of the donated funds go to CMNH.

“Extra Life began in 2008 as a way of honoring a young lady named Victoria Enmon,” reads Extra Life’s website. “Tori’s battle against acute lymphoblastic leukemia inspired the Sarcastic Gamer community in a way that is difficult to describe.”

Though small, Extra Life streams go on throughout the year. The majority take place during one 24-hour period in early November.

The first Extra Life event raised $302,000, a huge success by any measurement, but things really started to take off a few years later as media coverage continued to grow. In 2014, Extra Life raised $5,102,500.90 for CMNH during the 24-hour event.

The formula obviously leads to success, and organizations outside of Extra Life have taken note. Social networking and community have even found their way into Guilford’s fund-raising efforts.

On March 3, Guilford College hosted its first Day for Guilford, a 24-hour giving event similar in structure to Extra Life. Though it did not feature video game livestreams, Day for Guilford still made a difference.

“We saw an astronomical effectiveness from Day for Guilford,” said Senior Director of Annual Giving Lindsay Smith. “The 24-hour event really invigorated a lot of avenues.”

Inspiring causes gave Day for Guilford meaning, but unique delivery systems gave it staying power.

Day for Guilford focused primarily on social media. Highlighting and amplifying donor excitement propelled the drive to new heights, while Guilford’s website served as a hub for donations.

“Social media has really changed the face of giving,” said Senior Director of the Office of Communications and Marketing Angela Reiter.

The focus on social media drew in 862 donors and $240,152, making Day for Guilford a roaring success. Many on the fundraising staff believe this technique could hold even more promise.

“I think the Internet, especially social media, has a significant place in the future of fund-raising, especially with the younger generations,” said Student Manager for Day for Guilford Hali Rose Kohls ’14. “Our online presence did wonders for making Day for Guilford successful, but there was still so much more we could have done.”

In an age when technology pulls us further and further away from one another, Extra Life and Day for Guilford seek to bring us back together for a good cause. No matter what contribution we make, this events help us all make a difference.

“You don’t have to have a trust fund to make this all happen,” said Reiter. “Just imagine what we can do when we all come together.”

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