Pokémon GO is currently taking over the world – but let’s cover a few basics before we go into how your organization might be able to take advantage of the Pokémon GO craze.
What is it?
Pokémon GO is a Nintendo app, which is free to download and pla. The game uses GPS to make a cartoony map of your neighborhood and anywhere else you go, and Pokémon – pocket monsters or cute animal creatures – are interspersed throughout the virtual reality mapped over real life. When you come within range of a Pokémon, it’ll show up on your phone. You can collect Pokémon or fight them against other Pokémon at a Pokegym. The game gets more complicated, but these are the basics.
Why should it matter to you?
Pokémon GO is already netting more downloads than the dating app Tinder, and is on pace to outperform Twitter in daily active users.
So how can you use it for your cause-driven organization?
“Most of nonprofits are using it as a form of clever newsjacking – discovering that the nonprofit’s office or program location is a Pokémon stop and have snapped a photo for social media posting,” writes Beth Kanter on her blog. “Others are using it to lure visitors to their location. Museums, gardens, and parks have jumped on it.”
Here are some ways that you can use the Pokemon GO craze for your organization’s benefit.
1. Attract Pokémon GO players to visit your location
According to an article by Kristina Leroux, the Louise Kreher Forest Ecology Preserve & Nature Center posted the below image and caption on Facebook of a Pokémon at their nature center:
“Rachel Braver, the Communications Coordinator at the Food Bank of Contra Costa and Solano, said a couple of volunteers she spoke with in person were excited to see the ‘PokeGym’ nearby. She used the close proximity of the gym to ask for more volunteers,” writes Leroux. Rachel also offered a tour to any Pokémon GO players who were interested and anyone who shared a Pokémon GO screen shots taken at the Food Bank received a “Hunger Fighter” wristband.
“Rachel says they are also considering buying Lure Modules, which allow you to place a Pokémon at a location you choose for 30 minutes,” writes Leroux.
2. If you are an organization that uses walks or runs to raise money, Pokémon GO players walk a lot
Charity Miles, an app that enables you to earn money for charity when you walk, run or bike, has started a Pokémon GO challenge.
3. Use a Pokémon in a public service announcement
The NYPD used a Pokémon image to encourage folks not to play on the phones while driving. (The catch here is that Pokémon GO is causing the problem that the NYPD is trying to combat with Pokémon GO.)
4. Take over a Pokegym for a cause
The Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka, Kansas, is a Pokegym. An LGBTQ activist with the Pokémon nickname “LoveIsLove” took over the Pokegym at the church.
5. Treat your Pokémon as a site for outreach
If Pokémon in or near your office are attracting foot traffic, then talk to the people who come by. If people are stopping on the steps of your building, put up a sign inviting them in for a tour or a refreshment.
“If there are particularly rare Pokémon or items available at your charity’s location, why not leave a (secure) donation box in the area with a special sign asking players to make a donation in return for getting the items and Pokémon?” suggests the author of the Monfort blog.
6. Plan a Pokémon GO crawl and use the game itself to engage new people
“I’m currently developing a plan to use Pokémon GO as the focus of a community outreach event. I work for a youth-serving agency. Our main campus has four Pokestops on our property, as well as several across the street,” writes Brian Young.
“There’s also a large city park nearby and a number of businesses that could benefit from a Pokemon GO Crawl through our business district. Finding activities that simultaneously engage youth and adults can be difficult. Pokemon GO has captured the hearts of people of all ages. I think this app will be a great way to get people engaged.”