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Online Gamers Raise $1 million for Save the Children
His name is Bachir Boumaaza, but if you play video games, you might know him as Athene. And until recently, his fame in the world of online gaming was due largely to his self-bestowed title of “best gamer in the world,” or maybe his antic YouTube videos.
But there’s method behind the madness. Athene and collaborator Reese (Dries Leysen) are hardcore gamers – and committed social activists who understand the power of using entertainment to reach their audience. Inspired by a friend, Shawn Ahmed, whose Uncultured Project helps people in need in Bangladesh, they decided to leverage Athene’s gaming-world fame to raise awareness of – and raise money to fight – famine in Africa.
In 2011, the friends organized an online gaming tournament, raising $23,000 in just two weeks to help Save the Children’s Newborn Child Survival program in Bangladesh. Inspired by their success, they founded Operation ShareCraft, reaching out to gamers around the world via social media with the goal of raising $1 million to help Save the Children fight the hunger crisis in the Horn of Africa – the planet’s worst in 60 years. They did it in less than 100 days.
Athene teamed up with Save the Children to leverage a generous matching donation by DC Entertainment as part of the We Can Be Heroes campaign. "This epic gaming for good event represents the future of philanthropy with the convergence gamers, a corporation, and a non-profit in a true triangulation of innovation," said Ettore Rossetti, Director of Internet Marketing & Social Media for Save the Children.
Explains Reese, “We got into being entertainers with the idea of reaching a big audience to do bigger things. We’re all about making things ripple through, helping others take action and feel connected.” They also know how to motivate their particular audience, said Athene in a recent interview: “Gamers love to compete, and we harnessed that.”
Not only did Athene find satisfaction from using his celebrity for a good cause, but he also hopes to show the good his community can do. “With all the negative media around gaming, I thought it’d be awesome to show that gamers can come together for a good cause.”
ShareCraft used PayPal to collect funds through FundRazr. This helps maximize donations and inspire trust, explains Reese: “People don’t want to look for their credit card; they just want to use PayPal and go.”