Gaming can be a force for good. Here’s a list of the very best gaming charities, events, and initiatives.
16 Brilliant Gaming Charities and Programs
Are you looking for an opportunity to fundraise, donate, stream, or game for good? Perhaps you're in need of help and are looking for gaming charities that could assist you.
Our regular readers know that we love to highlight good gaming causes through our Feelgood Friday segment. We celebrate the organisations promoting inclusion, sustainability, diversity and accessibility in the gaming industry. Some remarkable organisations crop up again and again in our weekly segment, so we decided it was time to show them the spotlight they deserve.
Childs Play -- "Gamers Give Back"
There are few things more distressing to the human heart than the suffering of children; Childs Play is a gaming charity dedicated to bringing moments of happiness to those children in their hours of need.
They raise funds to stock children's hospitals (as well as clinics, domestic violence shelters and children's welfare centres) with gaming systems. Beyond making the hospitalisation experience less bleak for children and teenagers, the provision of gaming equipment can give children a sense of normality, community and even therapeutic support.
Child's Play understand that gaming can have real positive consequences for kids. And they've even produced therapeutic game guides that can help similarly minded individuals and organisations find the sort of games that work best. Their work has reached millions of young people and has been recognised by Microsoft, Google, PlayStation, and other gaming giants
They are open to donations and also partner with healthcare providers who provide gift lists allowing donators to give something tangible to specific locations.
Video games didn't save my life, and I didn't have a terminal disease, but they took what could have been one of the worst experiences of my life and made it my most positive hospital-related experience to date.
The Able Gamers -- #SoEveryoneCanGame
Able Gamers are long-time champions of accessibility in gaming. Founded in 2004, The Able Gamers Charity has been striving to give those with disabilities equal opportunities to socially game through the development and provision of adaptive technology.
They design and engineer custom controllers for different disabilities. Their long-term championing of the practice has led to others following suit, whether that's amateur engineers or tech giants like Sony who have just launched the first official PS5 Accessibility Controller.
Their mission is "Creating opportunities that enable play in order to combat social isolation, foster inclusive communities, and improve the quality of life for people with disabilities."
Their case studies are often heart-breaking and heart-warming in equal measure, such as Kody who was given an Xbox Adaptive Controller and a Tobi Eye Tracker. Though Kody's story is one of many -- Able Gamers have donated over hundreds of thousands of dollars of equipment, provided thousands of hours of support, launched ground-breaking fundraisers, and trained over 2000 game developers to make their games more accessible.
Safe In Our World -- "Proudly Supporting Mental Health Awareness"
While gaming can provide a sense of community, well-being, and connection, that doesn't mean that there isn't toxicity and serious mental health issues in gaming communities.
Safe in Our World is an excellent charity whose mission goal is to "create and foster worldwide mental health awareness within the video game industry; to eliminate the stigma surrounding mental health, to make it a natural topic of discussion, and to promote the dialogue surrounding mental health so people are not afraid to reach out for help if they need it."
Their well-designed and engaging website acts as an international hub of knowledge -- a safe and educational space to help people understand mental health issues. From fundraising support to inspiring stories and helplines, if you or a friend is struggling -- as many are at this time of year -- it's a great place to find resources.
The game industry is a high-pressure environment featuring notorious "crunches" and public criticism. As such, many industry workers suffer too and Safe In Our World also reaches out to developers and publishers to encourage them to better support their employees.
Games Done Quick -- Charity Speedrunning
The world's most famous speedrunning event has developed quite the reputation over the years. It has earned this reputation not only through its awkward memes and litany of world records but for the millions of dollars it reliably raises for good causes.
It has various forms and throws both in person and digital events. Awesome Games Done Quick (AGDQ) has just finished for this year; last weeks' Feelgood Friday was all about their success. From 15/02 to 04/03, they'll run their annual winter Frost Fatales event featuring all-women speedrunning.
Their litany of excellent causes includes Doctors Without Borders and the Prevent Cancer Foundation. If you want to suggest games, spectate, donate or just enjoy the pinnacle of high-level gameplay, check out the Games Done Quick website, their Twitch or YouTube channel.
Extra Life -- "Play Games. Heal Kids."
A program of the Children's Miracle Network Hospitals, Extra Life is a fundraising program based around annual gaming marathons. The goal of these legendary events is to raise money for critical life-saving treatment, healthcare services, research, and paediatric medical equipment. And raise money they have -- a jaw-dropping $100 million in 15 years.
They're always looking for participants, including gamers who can turn their prowess into cash by partaking in gaming sessions. While some gamers commit to a whole 24 hours, it's up to the gamer how they choose to participate. Though with fundraising leaderboards, unlockable achievements, avatars, and prizes featured on their homepage, it's safe to say that Extra Life know how to capitalise on gamers' competitiveness and get them to truly game for good.
Jingle Jam -- A Festive Gaming Bonanza
Jingle Jam is the world's largest charity gaming event. In the last decade, they have raised over $25 million for a diverse selection of good causes spanning conservation, sustainability, war relief, accessibility, cancer research, LGBTQ+ issues, combating racism, and more.
It has a rather lovely origin story. It started when two members of UK gaming content creators The Yogscast asked their fans to donate to Oxfam via their Just Giving page instead of sending them Christmas presents. They raised $100,000. Since then, their festive gaming event has grown and grown -- in 2022, they raised well over $4,000,000.
They've achieved this remarkable success by expanding Jingle Jam into a veritable gaming extravaganza. Jingle Jam now features "Humble Bundle" style charity game sales (650,000 games sold), livestreamed fundraisers featuring YouTube legends, community fundraisers and more.
Special Effect -- "Games Changing Lives"
Another wonderful charity using the power of games to empower those with disabilities is SpecialEffect. Inclusion and enjoyment are the primary goals of the charity, and their techniques are no less admirable.
They combine cutting edge technology and equipment with in-house developed video games to create life-enhancing experiences of play. For example, their EyeGaze program uses tech which allows people with bodily paralysis and other injuries to play specially designed games via eye-tracking software.
Watch the video below to learn just how much this help can mean to someone.
You might imagine that the games playable through eye-tracking software are limited to basic ones. You would be mistaken. SpecialEffect has released (for free) an amazing application which allows people with even the most severe disabilities to play Minecraft. And hot off the press today, they've announced signups for their next big event GameBlast23 which is taking place from February 24-26.
The BroadcastHer Initiative is part of the 1000 Dreams Fund and has the mission objective to make gaming more inclusive by supporting female content creators and gamers.
I Need Diverse Games, as the name suggests, aims to bring more diversity and positive representation to the gaming industry.
St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital is arguably the best-known children’s medical charity in the world. The St. Jude PLAY LIVE initiative streamlines fundraising opportunities and even offers rewards for those who partake.
Get Well Gamers is a UK charity that makes it easy as pie for people to donate games and gaming systems to hospitals and other healthcare providers.
The renown homelessness charity Crisis has set up a system so that gamers can raise money while playing games to offer society's most vulnerable an opportunity to gain safety and security.
The Playing for the Planet scheme has been set up in conjunction with the United Nations Environment Programme to raise awareness and funds for the greatest challenge facing our planet.
Another organisation helping provide hospitalised kids with positive gaming experience is Gamers Outreach who successfully help over 4 million children each year benefit from the joys of gaming.
We've highlighted as many amazing gaming charities as we can, and we hope that you've found it helpful. Whether you're looking for assistance or seeking an opportunity to game for good, always remember that help is out there -- don't be afraid to ask.