In our annual report covering 2020 – 2021, Zach Wigal (founder of Gamers Outreach) shares the progress we’ve made in the past year, our future ahead, and how gamers can continue to make an impact.
This summary highlights our 2020 financials, which funded program activity in both 2020 and 2021. Distinctions are noted where applicable.
At Gamers Outreach, we believe in the value of play.
Play is an integral part of our lives starting from early moments in childhood. It’s through play we socialize, learn, and make sense of the world. High-quality play makes for a high-quality life.
Play is especially important for kids as they mature.
But in hospitals, making play readily available is challenging.
Physical space is limited, staff must focus on treatment, and financial resources are often needed elsewhere.
Each year, millions of children and their families receive medical care inside hospitals. For many, the process can be scary and isolating. During hospitalization, kids lose access to friends, school, and moments that typically define childhood.
We’re on a mission to change their experience.
Gamers Outreach is a for-purpose organization restoring a sense of joy and normalcy in the lives of hospitalized children. We believe the world is better when kids can play, and gamers have the power to help.
Video games, when manageable inside hospitals, make play accessible at scale. Games are enjoyed by all age groups, and they offer a range of activities.
Our goal is to ensure all hospitalized kids have access to play – and we’ve chosen video games as our tools of choice.
Our Vision, Mission, & Core Beliefs.
One day we want to look back & ask: “remember when hospitals didn’t have video games?” That’s the future we’re committed to building.
The great news? That future is tangible. We know how to make play scalable – through technology!
The challenge: there are thousands of healthcare facilities around the world. We’re taking on a big problem. There’s a lot of work to reach full adoption.
Since our founding in 2007, we’ve worked to inspire and heal kids through play. Five tenets guide this sense of purpose:
- We are gamers.
We are video game enthusiasts on a mission to help our fellow gamers in hospitals. We are stewards of an organization that serves as a source of relief for hospital patients, and a conduit for video game enthusiasts to give back through their passion. We have dedicated ourselves to ensuring Gamers Outreach is a trusted charity for gamers and those supported by our work. We are committed to games being used for good. We are a gaming brand that enables interactive experiences in hospitals.
- We inspire and heal through play.
We believe access to recreation helps enrich a person’s quality of life. This is especially evident while a person is receiving care in a hospital setting. Our organization provides resources that help make video game content readily available and easy to manage in hospitals.
- Why do we do it?
We stand for kids, their families, and hospital staff providing care. We believe video games are a platform capable of improving the patient experience. Our programs aid the healing process by providing entertainment, relief, socialization, and a sense of normalcy to families and patients spending time inside hospitals.
- We value community.
Our organization was founded by a community of gamers determined to make a difference. Our programs are driven by community involvement. We believe the video game community is capable of doing incredible good. We hope to inspire fellow gamers to engage with their local hospitals.
- We are stewards – helping others level up!
Our staff and volunteers embody the identity, mission, and community values of Gamers Outreach programs. We are responsible for ensuring our programs add value to the lives of patients, their families, and hospital staff. Our team bridges the gap between the gaming community and the hospital environment. Every action on behalf of the organization should prioritize our community’s well-being and those we support in hospitals.
From 2020 – 2021, we made tremendous progress expanding our impact in spite of the challenges instigated by the pandemic. In 2021, we also announced two new programs. Our program philosophy is inspired by two key observations we’ve consistently recognized across hundreds of medical facilities:
- Many hospitals are not equipped with entertainment devices or infrastructure that makes premium gaming content readily accessible to patients (e.g. consoles, controllers, monitors, games, etc.).
- When technology is present, it can be difficult for hospital staff to manage entertainment due to several factors (unfamiliarity with equipment, existing responsibilities, ease of mobility, bandwidth limitations, etc.).
The majority of our resources are now being deployed amongst four programs we believe help make gaming accessible in different ways:
- GO Karts are hardware solutions. Each GO Kart helps ensure hardware is available to support AAA gaming experiences in hospitals where infrastructure may not exist!
- Player 2 volunteers are knowledge helpers. They’re gamers who provide expertise to make sure technology is working as intended within hospitals.
- Save Point is a distribution solution. Through dedicated Save Points, we can equip kids with take-home items, and empower them with a sense of accomplishment after progressing through treatment.
- Portal is a software solution. In hospitals where infrastructure exists, we can enable hundreds of patient rooms to be connected simultaneously without kids needing to wait a turn to play.
Since last year’s report, our program impact has expanded. We also passed a handful of fun milestones.
- We Added 80 New Healthcare Facilities. As of this article, Gamers Outreach maintains a presence across 310 healthcare centers. That’s a 35% increase since last year!
- 300 New GO Karts Were Delivered. Our fleet of GO Karts consists of nearly 1,300 units which our team actively supports. That’s a 31% increase since last year’s report!
- ALL 50 STATES. Gamers Outreach programs now exist in at least 1 hospital in every state across America!
- Two New Programs. As noted above, last year we launched Portal and Save Point! We’ll be sharing progress updates during our next annual Gamers for Giving fundraiser in March.
- MORE PLAY SESSIONS. Collectively, we now estimate our devices enable between 2.74 – 3.65 million instances of play, annually! That’s another ONE MILLION moments of joy created each year! Read below to learn more about how we define this impact.
In addition to our program impact, we made a number of other announcements that we’ll continue to build upon in 2022.
- The GRID. In 2021 we announced the formation of our monthly giving community, The GRID. The first 250 members will have guaranteed early access to Gamers for Giving tickets when the LAN party returns (tentatively: 2023).
- New Board Members. We expanded our leadership team!
- New Crew Members. We’re increasing our capacity to deliver on our vision. We added new team members, and plan to hire more throughout 2022! Check our Careers page for the latest postings.
- Brand Upgrades. We modernized the Gamers Outreach logo, fonts, and updated our website. *sparkles*
In 2021, we also encountered our share of challenges. If you’ve watched the news, you’ve likely heard about the supply chain interruptions that have caused product delays around the world. Even our GO Karts were affected, causing us to push back scheduled deliveries.
Throughout 2022, we’re continuing to actively monitor our component sources and do our best to stay ahead of potential interruptions.
As Gamers Outreach programs expand into more hospitals, it’s important to consider a few terms we use to define our impact:
- Play Sessions: You’ll notice the front page of our website lists the number of “annual play sessions” our devices provide. This number reflects what we believe to be our capacity for use given the number of GO Karts deployed across hospitals. A “play session” is defined as “every time a child plays a game on our device.” There are instances the same child day-to-day may use a GO Kart. There are also scenarios where a GO Kart is deployed in a playroom and used by 20+ children per day.
- Saturation (program footprint): We’re working towards a scenario where all kids have access to play without needing to wait their turn. This means providing the right type of devices, as well as the right quantity. A “fully saturated” hospital is a facility that requires no more devices. If our “program footprint” expands, it means we’ve added more devices across hospitals.
- Breadth: There are hundreds of pediatric hospitals in the United States alone. So long as our programs are of benefit, we hope to maintain a presence in each!
2020 was a record fundraising year for our cause. Together, our community of donors helped generate nearly $3.1 million in contributions – a 68% increase from 2019!
While it won’t be noted until our next tax filing, our supporters managed to make 2021 another record year – raising north of $3.2 million!
We recognized revenue growth across each of our fundraising categories, with a significant portion of growth being attributed to the new annual Spooktacular Streamathon event.
Thanks to the increase in fundraising, we were able to allocate more resources towards our programs. In 2020 we spent nearly $1.8 million to expand our impact in hospitals across the country. That’s a 20% increase in our functional expenses from 2019.
Our spending ratio continues to reflect our prioritization of direct impact. In 2020, 86% of our expenses were directly tied to programming.
For those interested, our full Form 990 can be viewed here.
Our annual streaming marathon, Gamers for Giving, was once again held virtually. With help from gamers and partners, our supporters raised nearly $967K in 2021! This amount represented a new single-event fundraising record for our cause, and was a 43% increase from 2020.
In 2021, we also organized the second annual Spooktacular Streamathon. More than 500 content creators came together to raise a whopping $771K! That’s a 128% increase from 2020’s event! And for many broadcasters, it was their first-ever charity stream!
Looking ahead, Gamers for Giving 2022 will once again take shape as an online streaming marathon. While we had hoped to bring back the LAN, circumstances regarding COVID are still not quite where they need to be for us to host a comfortable event for our community.
Gamers for Giving 2022 is scheduled to take place virtually on March 26th & 27th. This year, we’re hoping to crack the $1 million threshold in support of our programs! Be sure to check out www.GamersforGiving.org for more details in the coming weeks. We hope you’ll join us!
In last year’s annual report, we established four key metrics that help define our success in hospitals. Our programs exist in a diverse landscape of facilities across the country.
We believe these four considerations are ubiquitous across hospitals, and they represent how we think about fulfillment:
- Equipment / Content Saturation. Each hospital environment is unique in its ability to house equipment and provide patients with access to content. A 600-bed facility has different hardware and content needs than a 20-bed facility. Our long-term goal is to assist hospitals in reaching their unique “saturation points” so that content is readily available to patients.
- Patient Engagement. We define patient engagement in terms of access to activities. What entertainment offerings existed (if any) to patients before Gamers Outreach programs, and how accessible were those activities to patients? Example: did patients need to wait X hours before playing a video game, or were games available immediately?
- Improved Patient Outcomes. In our experience, hospitals place a high degree of importance on measuring “patient outcomes.” Loosely defined, this encompasses how quickly / fully a patient recovers during treatment. We believe games are capable of contributing towards improved patient outcomes.
- Improved Patient Experience. For our purposes, we think of the patient experience as the overall sentiment a person may have during hospitalization. It can also be an indicator of how a patient “feels” day-to-day. Patients often report their “pain scores” to attending healthcare staff, which help determine sense of comfort or injury tolerance. We believe games are capable of facilitating improved patient experiences.
Many of you reading this are the ones who enable Gamers Outreach programs. As well, there are thousands of hospital staff who work each day to provide needed care for kids.
You are all heroes, and it’s because of everyone’s collective work our programs can bring joy into the lives of families.
We’re as committed as ever to making a greater impact, and we hope you’ll join us throughout 2022. Thank you for your continued support!