What's Next for Charity Streaming in 2021?

Ryan "HAVOK" Headrick

Ryan "HAVOK" Headrick

Community Engagement Manager

2020 put charity streaming programs front and center for many nonprofit organizations. In this blog, we look at the evolution of charity streaming and how you can bring it to your organization in 2021.

Charity streaming is the future of fundraising.

Also known as livestream fundraising, charity streaming has made fundraising easier and more accessible to more people than ever before. It is a powerful tool both by itself and when combined with other forms of fundraising.

Case in point: Kevin Truong, Head of Esports & Gaming at the Princess Margaret Cancer Foundation, said the biggest highlight of 2020 was seeing people from all over the world join in to support their cause after launching Quest to Conquer Cancer. 99% of that money [raised from Quest] was from net new donors.

Such unparalleled reach only hints at the potential opportunity charity streaming has to offer.

While the concept of live streaming has been around for the better part of a decade now, this arm of fundraising can feel foreign to organizations that haven’t tried it. How do you get organizational buy-in, create a community of streamers, and maximize this outlet in your first year and beyond?

Hear from the leaders behind the Princess Margaret Cancer Foundation’s Quest to Conquer Cancer, the National MS Society’s Stream to End MS and Stack Up to learn how their streaming communities responded and grew last year—and what is ahead for their campaigns in 2021 in this webinar replay. 

What is Charity Streaming?

Charity streaming is when content creators—like gamers, artists, athletes and more—host live video broadcasts to support your cause. During these streams, the content creator can interact with their audience in real-time.

This level of engagement creates powerful results for fundraising initiatives. To see how, let’s take a look at last year’s data.

How COVID-19 Impacted Charity Streaming 

An increasing number of people have tuned into YouTube and Twitch to watch others play video games, cook food, talk about important issues and provide other types of entertainment for their audiences.

In fact, data from Stream Hatchet and streamlabs show dramatic spikes in content production and consumption across Twitch and YouTube:

How does this tie into fundraising?

Well, we took a look at fundraising revenue data on the DonorDrive platform. From 2019 to 2020, there was a:

Last year more content was streamed, more content was consumed, and more funds were raised through streaming! This is the future of fundraising.


How to Bring Charity Streaming to Your Organization

The first hurdle that organizations interested in charity streaming have to face is getting their leaders and teams on board. This is because many organizations are used to (and known for) their in-person campaigns. While we’ve all had to adjust this past year to a virtual fundraising setting, this specific type of livestreaming can be daunting.

Here are a few important points to bring up and other ways to get organizational buy-in:

1. Expand Your Reach

Charity streaming is all about making fundraising accessible to everyone.

At the MS Society, we’re always trying to meet constituents where they are, said Christina Carro, senior director of emerging events at the National MS Society. Many of the people who we serve live with MS and can’t attend events, or maybe aren’t comfortable attending live events. So, streaming is a way for them to connect with their community and make an impact.

Are you creating new ways for people to connect and raise funds in a way that is meaningful?  It’s a good idea for any organization to explore charity streaming as an additional outlet for fundraising to reach brand new audiences and allow your community to connect like never before.

2. Ask Your Audience

Members of your audience might be interested in charity streaming on your behalf. Ask your internal resources, like your staff or existing supporters, to see if this is something they would be willing to try.

There’s also a chance that your audience is already asking you to support their charity streaming initiatives.

A couple of years ago, we started to hear from content creators who were reaching out wanting to raise funds for us in this way, said Christina. We decided to explore it more and last year we launched our Stream to End MS program.  

3. Promote a Culture of Innovation

Successful organizations are those that are always thinking about how to evolve and innovate to raise more funds for their cause.

In the webinar, Kevin emphasized the importance of this as it related to his own step into the charity streaming space. “From an organizational support level, [Princess Margaret has] a director of innovation to help with fostering these new ideas, he said. Since innovation is embedded into their strategic plan … I knew I had the resources and support to give this initiative a fair shot.

If your organization is open to innovation and new ways to fundraise, this buy-in will be much simpler. Being successful requires support from colleagues and leaders who truly believe in this future of fundraising.

How to Build a Community of Content Creators

Now that you have organization buy-in, how do you actually create a charity streaming program? Well, it starts with the streamers themselves.

Streamers have a different mentality compared to regular peer-to-peer fundraisers. So, you have to approach a partnership with them in a different way.

Here are some pieces of advice to help you build meaningful relationships with content creators:

1. Don’t Force Connections

A successful charity streaming program is built on organic and authentic relationships, not forced connections.

The harder you try to push somebody to do an event … the less we seem to get back, said Stephen Machuga, CEO of Stack Up. You have to find individuals that are excited about your mission.

So, don’t just approach an influencer and ask them to stream for you without understanding who this individual is and what they might care about. Do your research and find individuals who genuinely care.

2. Start Small

When reaching out to people to host a charity stream on your behalf, don’t worry about the numbers. Focus more on finding people connected to and passionate about your cause, and the results will follow—no matter how small.

People with a smaller number of followers but who are genuinely excited can provide much better results. 

A small community doesn’t mean small fundraising impact. You never know who could be watching and donating. 

The great part about starting small is that you will be able to grow with the streamer and benefit from a lifelong partnership.  We find spending the time and growing the smaller streamers into the killers down the road [has] been really, really fundamental, said Stephen. And now we have loyal streamers for life.

3. Join Discord

Discord is a platform that allows users to communicate with each other through voice calls, video calls, instant messaging, media and files in private chats or broader communities. This has become an essential place for charity streamers to be, especially those in the gaming community.

By hosting your own Discord server, you can build a community of unofficial ambassadors that are excited about your program.

Avoid using Discord as a marketing channel, though. This is a platform for people to come together, answer questions, share plans and incentives, and figure out how to help each other.

4. Support Streamers During Off Seasons

It’s important to consider how you’re interacting with content creators when they aren’t actively fundraising for you.

To build a long-term relationship and create a lifelong fundraiser for your cause, support their other streams and care about their success (and the broader community) as a whole.

5. Give Streamers the Right Tools

Just like you don’t want to force connections, you can’t push a streamer to say or do specific things. It’s their show; you’re just benefiting from it.

Charity streaming is all about giving people a new way to connect and raise funds in a way that’s meaningful to them. So, while you should definitely provide a brand toolkit and messaging ideas, let the content creators do what they do best. Focus your efforts on asking how you can better support them (instead of the other way around).

This answer will usually be related to the tools and technology you leverage to support your fundraising efforts. There are many virtual fundraising tools available today that you can leverage with your streamers to create an even better and more engaging experience for everyone.


Charity streaming is the future of fundraising—and it’s only going to get better in 2021. As technology continues to improve and people change the way they consume content and interact with each other, now is a great time to invest in this type of fundraising.

Remember: Livestreaming is a form of entertainment for people. So, you need to give streamers the tools they need to engage their audience.

Success won’t happen overnight, and you will need a team of people dedicated to it, but it’s worth the investment. With the right tools supporting you and your community of streamers, you can unlock a new source of revenue for your cause.

Watch the full webinar for more insights on charity streaming from nonprofit leaders who have used it successfully in their own organization. 

Ready to explore how DonorDrive can help you?