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YouTubers running charity streams on Twitch, YouTube, and Facebook Gaming have become a staple of the medium. It says something about the streaming community that they’ve been trying to give back for as long as streaming has been a source of income. But now it’s no longer merely a charitable impulse. Now major streamers can — and do — make millions on behalf of charities. And it’s clear from speaking with some of them that they want to make even more.
As content creators have carved out a chunk of the entertainment arena for themselves, they’ve galvanized their growing communities for positive change. This is not a universal motivation, of course, but it’s fairly ubiquitous among popular streamers. While charities and pleas for charitable donations have been a regular feature of the content creation community for at least the last decade, it’s really taken off in the last few years.
This time five years ago, streamers were making thousands of dollars for charities. These days, they’re easily raising six-to-seven figure sums. In 2021, Z Event – a charity event hosted on Twitch by streamers Zerator and Dach that features multiple streamers – broke the world record for most money raised. Across three days of streaming, the content creators raised about $11.5 million for Action Against Hunger.
An even better telethon
One of the major contributors to the space has been Benjamin “DrLupo” Lupo, who last weekend held his annual Build Against Cancer charity event. This year Lupo raised $892, 195 during the 24-hour event. He also surpassed $10 million raised for St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital across the last five years. Reportedly this is the largest amount of money raised by a single content creator.
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Speaking with GamesBeat, Lupo described what makes livestreamed charity events so appealing: “This is a modern-day telethon of sorts. In this case, you have the ability to interact with the thing you are watching. That is huge, especially in the world of TikTok and Instagram and Reels… everyone wants their instant gratification. What better way to do it than live on your screen? You are part of what’s going on. I think technology and embracing it is a huge motivator behind people donating.”
As Lupo and other creators build up their recurring events, the donation goals have become more ambitious. This is proving to be a good move, as viewers continue to meet and even surpass these goals.
Moving the goals
Another major contributor is Sean “JackSepticEye” McLoughlin, who held his annual Thankmas event this year. McLoughlin spoke with GamesBeat, saying, “Last year, my goal for my stream was $500,000. That was the biggest goal I had ever set for my audience. We ended up hitting $1.4 million… It’s become a much bigger event than it has been in previous years.”
This year, McLoughlin said one of the big changes was that smaller content creators could participate, eliminating large charity events as the sole province of popular streamers. “You can take this event, make it your own, and do whatever you want with it, irrelevant to what I’m doing. We’re all still helping the cause, at the end of the day.”
McLoughlin’s Thankmas event went on to raise over $7.6 million on behalf of New Story, a nonprofit that 3D prints homes for places with inadequate housing. Rachell “Valkyrae” Hofstetter, who was participating in Thankmas, at one point received an anonymous $200,000 donation.
Tiltify, a fundraising platform built with content creators in mind, participated in both Lupo’s and McLoughlin’s campaigns. Michael Wasserman, CEO of Tiltify, spoke to GamesBeat about the aforementioned charity events. He said, “When we launched the platform in 2015, we knew that there was a huge interest in doing good in the creator economy.
“We hoped that if we built a platform that allowed these creators to actually engage with their communities, that good things would happen with the charity space. It’s exciting to see, six years later, people like JackSepticEye and Lupo who are raising millions of dollars in a day.”
Lupo refused credit for the charity milestone, telling GamesBeat, “The position I always take is that it’s not me, it’s the people who are donating. I don’t like taking credit for what other people are doing…It’s the people that are out there that are the real ones.”
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