Charities & Budgets

Charity QuoteWe get a request for a charitable & promotional contribution of some form about once every 2 weeks. Most of these charities or groups are people who we’ve never even heard from before and many don’t really offer much in terms of marketing opportunities.  Many are also only tangentially related to our industry, so many of these e-mails are just ‘mass’ mailings to see what they can get.

Over the years, we’ve varied how much and under what conditions we’ll provide charitable contributions.  One hard and fast rule we’ve made though is not to support any charity / event that isn’t Canadian.  After all, most of our customers are Canadian and sending product across the border increases our cost so much, there’s really no point.

Currently, we don’t have a hard budget for our charitable contributions.  Part of that is due to the fact that we generally provide products as our contribution, which allows us to be a bit more flexible in what we can offer.  Thankfully, being in this industry, we can generally provide decent games that aren’t complete turkeys that don’t sell well for us.  Still,  even without a budget we need a way to guesstimate how much to send to each charity (unless said charity already has sponsorship levels).

That’s where we start assessing potential return and relevance.  If you are a gaming related event / charity, it makes more sense to provide more products to you.  If it’s for an event where we expect the games to be used regularly, we’ll provide more (examples including schools and libraries looking to expand their programming).  On the other hand, if it’s a charity for pet therapy for example, there’s not a lot of relevance for us.

From there, we also look at the size of the event.  If it’s an event with only 50 people arriving, it’s no use sending 20 games.  If it’s an event where there’s a few thousand, then a larger contribution makes sense since it ‘spreads’ the contribution around further.

One thing we don’t do, or haven’t done, is chosen to support / advocate for any specific cause.  Of course, we ran the Lower Mainland Christmas  Bureau’s  donation drive last year, but it’s not a ’cause’ if you will.  There’s a few reasons for that, mostly due to my belief that my personal views / feelings shouldn’t impact the way the business is run. Still, now that Christmas is coming, I’m wondering if we should look at running another charity drive.


Social Responsibility and Businesses

I rarely discuss the things that we do outside of our main business, but with the Gaming for Diabetes event coming up tomorrow; I thought I’d talk a bit about the various charities and initiatives we help sponsor through Starlit Citadel.

Semi-Marketing Events

There’s quite a few events out there that have partial over-lap with our main business – Gaming for Diabetes, Game Days and Convention sponsorships are the main one`s that come to mind.  Whether it`s a small con like ToonCon or a larger event like VCon; sponsoring the conventions don’t actually provide us a large ROI.  However, in the long run these events grow the entire market and it’s worth it; at least to us to provide sponsorship.  It’s why in many ways, we slot it in the same section as donations.

Full Donations

Of course, there’s also events and charities that we support that have nothing to do with our business that we support.  In general, those are done for personal reasons – whether it’s something we personally enjoyed (Can’t Stop the Serenity); believe should be supported (the Pacific Post-Partum Society) or are part-of (the Vancouver Bach Choir).

In most cases, what we provide are games. It’s more financially viable as we can provide over-stock games and slower-selling (but good) games to these various events than a straight-out donation.  I’m sure there’s some tax basis for providing one or the other; but truthfully we’re still such a small organisation that it probably doesn’t make a great difference.


Bottom line is; if you’re involved in an organisation or event that is gaming related; there’s a 90% chance we’ll provide some form of sponsorship.  If you aren’t; we might still be able to do so – it just depends on how much of our budget has been used up that year; at that point in asking.  Oh, it also helps if you don’t mind getting some not-as-good games.