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Allyson Kapin 12 min read

4 ways nonprofits are using Pokémon GO

Pokémon GO has seen explosive growth over the past few weeks - garnering 21 million active users and surpassing Tinder in popularity. It’s being called the single biggest mobile game in U.S. History.

In its early stages of craze, I wrote a blog about it, and provided some strategies nonprofits could put to use to utilize Pokémon GO to your nonprofit’s advantage. Turns out, tons of nonprofits came up with their own creative ideas to jump into the Pokémon GO craze. Here are some cool ones:

1. Bringing people to the ballots.

You may have seen Hillary Clinton’s joke earlier this month about “Pokémon GO-to-the-polls.” Her campaign team actually found a way to make that happen.


In the game, users are able to walk around to Pokéstops, where you’re able to collect items, like Pokéballs. When a user sets a lure, more Pokémon will appear, and users will head to that area.

Some Clinton volunteers set up lures at a specific location, and when people showed up, volunteers stood with voter registration forms. Lures are inexpensive, costing either 100 Pokécoins (the app’s currency) or a pack of eight for 680 Pokécoins. You can purchase Pokécoins with real money, 100 for just 99 cents. This is just a little less than a dollar for 30 minutes of guaranteed traffic to your area.

I applaud the Clinton campaign leveraging Pokémon so quickly. Getting people to stop at tables is frustrating when they’re immersed in their headphones, in a rush to work or to class. But Pokémon GO players? Maybe they’re more likely to take a pause from the game and take 5 minutes to register to vote. #LetsHope

2. Setting up lures while tabling.

Environmental campaigners are experimenting with it too. For example, a campaigner setup a Pokémon GO Climate Action Kickoff in Bellevue Downtown Park. They created a Facebook event page, invited their friends and put in the event description that there will be a lure module at their table. There, they’ll spread the word about a climate policy on Washington’s November ballot. All Pokémon GO players have to do is go, listen, and catch some Pokémon on July 29th!



3. Dropping lures during marches for social change.

Another great way to achieve social change is through marches--and one movement for a Clean Energy March found a way to bring in more people by setting up lure modules at the start of the march, the end of the march, and locations along the route. They also encouraged people to take pictures with the Pokémon they found and use the hashtag #PokemonGo and #CleanEnergyMarch to help raise awareness.



4. Creating scavenger hunts.

A number of public libraries have created events for Pokémon GO scavenger hunts, including Oshkosh public library, St. Louis County Library, and Franklin Library. For resources on how to make an interactive scavenger hunt for all ages, check out this blog.



Now, remember that Pokémon GO activism can go wrong, partially due to the automatic mapping system in the app. There’s been cases of people falling off cliffs and getting robbed because of the lures. The National Holocaust Museum in Washington, DC had to issue an announcement asking people to not play Pokémon GO in their museum. Remember to be conscientious, be careful, and be safe about your use of Pokémon GO with your nonprofit strategy.

What ways have you seen other nonprofits utilize Pokémon GO?


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.