The year-end is an exciting time. It’s an opportunity for reflection, gratitude, and preparation.
I often think on our role within hospitals as a video game industry charity, and how we can be of help to patients. To that end, our purpose remains clear: Gamers Outreach exists to inspire and heal patients through the power of interactive play. By providing equipment, technology, and software to hospitals, we’re actively working to ensure children have access to activities during treatment. At our core, we’re a group of video game enthusiasts eager to make a difference.
Through the last decade of service, we’ve come to learn a lot about the healthcare environment. As our programs have expanded – and the breadth of supported hospitals has increased – I’ve become more convinced of the incredible benefit games have in the hospital setting. I’ve also been surprised to realize how much work there is yet to be done. We’ve talked extensively about the role of video games in hospitals, and we know hospital staff turn to games as a way to provide children with access to activities. However, many hospitals still lack streamlined hardware mechanisms that ensure content is available to patients. With that, we also know it’s often difficult for staff to actively manage equipment and accessories even when they’re made available.
One of our solutions has been Project GO Kart, and the majority of our focus this past year has been on effectively scaling the manufacturing process of the carts to meet the demands of hospitals nationwide. Even while undergoing manufacturing upgrades, 2017 was a strong period of growth, and the generosity we’ve seen from the gaming community has astounded our team. Our outreach has expanded significantly in the course of the past year. In our last annual report, I mentioned Gamers Outreach programs were benefiting an estimated 105,000 children across 19 hospitals. Since then, the impact of our programs has more than doubled. At the time of this writing, Project GO Kart is benefiting as many as 236,000 patients in nearly 30 hospitals around the U.S.
What’s more, thanks to some major fundraising events and partners this year, (e.g. PUBG, Child’s Play, Gamers for Giving 2017) in 2018 we expect Gamers Outreach programs to be of service to more than 800,000 children in nearly 200 healthcare facilities.
With this expansion comes the need for increased capacity. We’re actively recruiting volunteers willing to help fulfill Gamers Outreach programs at their local hospital. For us, volunteer opportunities within hospitals take on a couple different forms:
- Player 2: Though only available in a select few hospitals, by Q2 2018 we anticipate rolling out a dedicated program page for the Player 2 initiative on our website. Through Player 2, we’ve been inviting gamers to serve as “digital activity managers.” Volunteers help solve minor tech problems, distribute software, and play games with patients. As of this writing, Player 2 exists in C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital (Ann Arbor, Michigan) and recently launched in Rady Children’s Hospital (San Diego).
- GO Kart Race Crew: We’re looking for volunteers throughout the U.S. & Canada who can assist with regional GO Kart deliveries. As a Race Crew member, you’ll be volunteering to ensure GO Karts are fully operational once they’ve been shipped to hospitals. If you’re interested, check out the full write-up here.
As you can see, the next several months will be quite busy for our team. However, even with the dramatic expansion of supported patients, we’re barely reaching the incredible volume of children hospitalized annually. Each year, millions of kids are treated across hundreds of hospitals around the country, and we’ve realized the benefit in teaming up with other folks working in the hospital setting. In 2018, you’ll see us joining up with groups like Child’s Play and AbleGamers to extend our collective impact. Earlier in the year, we also partnered with organizations like GameChanger charity to help drive awareness of the various ways games can help in hospitals. In other words, yes – 2017 marked the beginning of the video game charity justice league, and we couldn’t be more excited to share this work with such wonderful partners.
This growth wouldn’t be possible without the help of our community. In 2016, total public support for Gamers Outreach programs tallied nearly $430,000.00. And while it won’t be formally noted until next year’s report – our 2017 revenue is hovering between $1.0 – $1.5 million. Funding in support of our initiatives is largely driven by grassroots contributions via the gaming community and hospital donor networks. That said, in the last year, we’ve been able to diversify our revenue streams to include a slightly wider spread of grants and program-related services. Thankfully we’ve been able to maintain fairly lean operating costs alongside this increase in resources. Our 2016 management and operating expenses accounted for less than 13% of total expenditures. For those curious, our full 2016 Form 990 can be found here.
A major driver of Gamers Outreach culture and impact is our annual fundraiser, Gamers for Giving. Through ticket sales, online donations, sponsorship, and with the help of Twitch broadcasters – more than $315,000 was generated at our 2017 event! In 2018, we’ll be celebrating the 10th anniversary of Gamers for Giving – truly a momentous occasion. It was in 2008 we hosted our first LAN party (one that didn’t get shut down by police), marking the start of Gamers Outreach programs. The event will be taking place on April 28th / 29th, and we’ll be chasing down a $350,000 fundraising goal! This will certainly be the largest fundraiser we’ve organized, and we can’t wait to chase down the goal with all our attendees and supporters online. If you’re near Michigan or feel like making the trip, we invite you to join us! Registration will open on January 26th, and information for the event will be posted on GamersforGiving.org.
From everyone at team Gamers Outreach, we’d like to thank you for your support throughout 2016 & 2017! It’s a privilege to do this work, and we look forward to making an even greater impact for children and their families in 2018!
Have a wonderful new year! We’ll see you in 2018!
Founder, Gamers Outreach