Rethink Breast Cancer turns to Twitch for its newest fundraiser

Rethink Breast Cancer has partnered with a group of gamers across North America and the U.K. to launch a fundraising initiative called the Booby Bowl.

Running from Jan. 25 to Feb. 1, the inaugural Booby Bowl will see the five participating gamers solicit donations to Rethink Breast Cancer during live streams on the popular streaming gaming site Twitch.

The five gamers have a combined following of nearly 950,000, led by Nova Scotia-based Nick EH 30 with 762,000. “It’s almost like a little army,” says Rethink Breast Cancer founder and executive director MJ DeCouteau. “Anything they do, their audience gets excited about it.”

DeCouteau says charities need to find ways of enlisting support among younger donors. “It’s been challenging out there for charities, and while we’ve been very successful in our branding, our output and our reach, a lot of charities are looking for new ways to grow their revenue. It’s really important that charities evolve and be ready for the next generation of philanthropy.”

E-sports is rapidly emerging as a major fundraising channel. In 2018, for example, the gaming company Blizzard Entertainment sold special “Pink Mercy” skins within its popular Overwatch title to raise funds for the Breast Cancer Research Foundation. The initiative raised more than US$12.7 million.

And last year, a Twitch streamer named H. Bomberguy raised more than $340,000 for the charity Mermaids (which provides support to trans youth and their families) during a more than 57-hour stream that featured him playing the game Donkey Kong 64 to completion.

According to a recent report by Quartz, Twitch has raised more than US$130 million in donations since 2011, and has added so-called Charity Extensions to streamline the donation process. In a report last year, the website Nextweb labelled such endeavours “the future of online fundraising.”

“We’re always looking to be on-trend, so of course the whole e-sports explosion has definitely caught our eye,” says DeCouteau. “We’ve seen massive quantities of funds raised in the U.S. through e-sports initiatives, and we wanted to explore it. It’s a great fit with the age groups that we serve.”

While the Booby Bowl is unlikely to supplant the annual Boobyball as Rethink Breast Cancer’s biggest annual fundraiser (the event, held simultaneously across four Canadian cities, raises as much as $500,000), DeCouteau says that the Twitch-based fundraiser doesn’t have the same overhead costs.

DeCouteau is hopeful that the Booby Bowl could raise up to $50,000 for Rethink. While Canadian Tire is supporting the initiative with a $10,000 donation, DeCouteau says that the bulk of the funds raised will arrive in the form of micro-donations that range from $1 to $5.

Rethink first tested the concept with Nick EH 30 last year, reaching 1.4 million people and raising $20,000 over the course of the event. “The revenue came in fast and furious, but he was also really engaged in the cause,” said DeCouteau. “It had a very warm, fuzzy, awesome feel.”

Rethink Breast Cancer worked with its agency partner Taxi to develop the Booby Bowl’s brand identity and a line of merchandise that will be distributed to participating gamers.


Chris Powell