<img src="//bat.bing.com/action/0?ti=5065582&amp;Ver=2" height="0" width="0" style="display:none; visibility: hidden;">
Allyson Kapin 12 min read

4 Easy Ways Your Nonprofit Can Use Pokémon GO to Engage People

Pokémon GO has been all the rage the last couple of days. Pokémon GO is a mobile app that sends its users out into the real world, using location technology to “catch” Pokémon—yes, the actual animated little creatures—in the real world. This game is already revolutionary because it uses Augmented Reality (AR) and is getting people up and moving, exploring the world in places that are often off the grid.

And it’s gaining traction quickly— just two days after the app’s release, Pokémon GO was already installed on 5.16% of all Android devices in the U.S. Doesn’t seem like much? Only one day after the app was released, Pokémon GO was already installed on more U.S. Android phones than Tinder. Over 60% of those who downloaded the app are using it daily. And it’s currently neck and neck with Twitter—one article predicts that in a few days, Pokémon GO is likely to have more daily users than Twitter. #Wow.


So, how can your nonprofit use Pokémon GO?

1. Start a hashtag and encourage people to submit their pictures. 

Utilize your social media! People love to take pictures of the Pokémon they’ve caught, and they love to post the photos to social media. If you’ve seen some interesting Pokémon, or even if you’re nearby a Pokémon gym (where people go to train their Pokémon), you can encourage people to post their photos on Twitter or Facebook while tagging your nonprofit in the post. Just look at what the National Mall did on their Facebook page, encouraging visitors to be respectful of the park, but also to hashtag their Pokémon selfies:


2. Post a sign outside your door, or drop a lure.

While this may not work so well if you’re in an office where you don’t want people loitering, it may work if there’s a location that you want to bring people to. Are you tabling and want people to come by? Are you a nonprofit bakery raising money for veterans? Darren Barefoot, of Capulet, suggested that if you live in a urban city, consider posting a chalkboard outside saying, “Did you catch a Pokémon nearby? Celebrate by donating to… x nonprofit.” You can also offer a couple dollars off your product, conference registration, etc. if people snap a photo of a pokemon outside of your org.



Another way you can bring people in is to set a lure. In the game, Lure Modules attract Pokémon to a Pokéstop for 30 minutes, and people nearby the area can also benefit from the effect. One Lure Module costs 100 Pokécoins, and a pack of eight costs 680 Pokécoins. You can buy the coins with real money, and 100 of them costs 99 cents. That’s a little less than a dollar for 30 minutes of guaranteed traffic to your area. Museums, Red Cross blood drives, peer-to-peer fundraising events like American Cancer Society's Relay for Life, animal ressue shelters, environmental education programs through Audobon, etc. can benefit from this greatly, as people use the Lure Module for 30 or so minutes. Additionally, you can buy Pokécoins in allotments up to 14,500 for $99.99. This means these types of nonprofits could, hypothetically, set up a Lure for every 30 minutes for the entire day.

Just look at one local tea business’ sign right outside our Rad Campaign office. They know how to capitalize on current trends to the benefit of their business.

3. Make a Snapchat story.

Who says you can’t be fun and creative to bring attention to your nonprofit’s mission? A park ranger at the U.S. Department of Interior recently posted a Snapchat story of their adventures catching Pokémon in the George Washington Carver National Monument. This is about meeting your audience where they’re at, and engaging with them on the platforms they’re using. If you don’t have a Snapchat account, but you know that your constituents are using it, try signing up and testing it out! If you’re not sure which platforms your audience is on, conducting a simple poll is a great way to find out.

4. Start encouraging developers to implement new features.

Just think: with the amount of people using the app, what if there were features in Pokémon GO that allowed you to donate to charities? For example, what if a business pledges that for every Jigglypuff caught, they will donate a certain amount of dollars to a local charity? And this could all be done natively in the app.

The ideas are endless; some people are already encouraging developers to put popular Pokémon at voting polls to bring more people in to vote. For example, Elana Levin of Make the Road Action would like to see Pokemon developers create an Election-Day-only Pokemon that would only be catchable on Election Day at polling places.

Although I can’t speak to how long the Pokémon craze is going to last, it’s certainly making imprints already. What are some ideas you have to use Pokémon GO for your nonprofit’s advantage?


Allyson Kapin

Allyson has been named one of "Top Tech Titans" by the Washingtonian, one of the Most Influential Women In Tech by Fast Company, and one of the top 30 women entrepreneurs to follow on Twitter by Forbes for her leadership role in technology and social media. As Founding Partner of Rad Campaign, she leads the firm's client and online strategic services. For over a decade Allyson has helped non-profit organizations and political campaigns create dynamic and award-winning websites and online marketing and recruitment campaigns. She works side-by-side with her clients to meet their web needs and maximize their online effectiveness to create real world impact.