Gaming for Charity at Spin for Good

Gaming for Charity at Spin for Good

The Life You Can Save has recently joined up with an innovative organization called Spin for Good that’s tapping into the ever-growing online gaming industry to help charitable organizations raise funds efficiently. Founded by Steven Levitt of Freakonomics and economist Amee Kamdar, the site has partnered with a number of excellent charities including our list of recommended organizations to raise money through gaming.  Users pay to play, but unlike gambling, they're not playing for their own benefit: 100% of the money goes to charity.  In honor of their first ever Give A Grand tournament happening this week, we’ve invited Amee to talk to us about the origin of Spin for Good and how it could impact the way people give.

What is Spin for Good?

Spin for Good is a nonprofit social gaming site that connects nonprofits across several fields to the growing market of online gaming. Users donate an entry fee to join blackjack and slots tournaments, and the winner chooses which of our charity partners receives the prize pool. So, each gamer has a chance to make their donation into a much larger one, and 100% of the money donated is given directly to our charity partners. 

We also host special tournaments like this week’s Give A Grand tournament, where we’re starting the pot at $1,000, and users can buy in on behalf of their favorite charity with the chance to win big to support their cause.

How did you get started?

After several years of economic research focused on issues in the nonprofit sector, I teamed up with Steve Levitt, author of the Freakonomics books, looking for creative ways to make an impact. Through both our academic and professional work, we kept coming back to the same fundamental dilemma: raising money is really expensive. Traditional fundraising methods like direct mail campaigns often cost a ton of money upfront just to raise the bare minimum needed to do good work.

Separately, Steve is personally quite passionate about gaming and has published academic papers about the economics of both the casino and online gaming industries. So, really, Spin for Good was a natural jump for us. We set out to create a cost efficient way for charities to tap into the revenue generated by online gaming, already a multi-billion dollar industry.

How does Spin for Good impact charitable giving?

We think Spin for Good can make an impact in two important ways. First, it streamlines the fundraising process. Typically, a nonprofit spending $0.35 on each dollar raised is considered successful. That’s an enormous cost. High overhead can be extremely limiting, both to the organization and to its donors. Spin for Good bypasses upfront costs to the charity and offers a transparent platform for donors. We also consciously partner with organizations representing a wide range of important causes, so users can discover charity organizations that may have otherwise gone unnoticed.

Second, we want to improve the online experience for avid gamers by giving gameplay a sense of purpose. Currently, gamers pay fees directly into the pockets of large corporations and are offered no actual reward of any value outside of gameplay.  It’s clear to us that online games will only continue to gain popularity, so this is a way for people to give just by doing something they’re already enjoying. When given the option as part of daily life, people choose to do good, and we want it to be fun. 

Why the partnership with The Life You Can Save?

We created Spin for Good to help charities raise money in a cost effective manner. The Life You Can Save is a great partner for us, because they focus on the other side of the equation, by identifying charities that will use that money in the most impactful way possible. The partnership allows us to steer users towards great causes so that we aren’t just raising money, but we are ensuring the money raised makes a difference. The partnership also benefits our donors, who can use The Life You Can Save's logo to inform their decision when choosing a charity to play for. We are truly thrilled about what’s to come from this new partnership.

To learn more or to join the Give A Grand tournament right now, visit

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About the author:

Jon Behar

As COO, Jon helps coordinate The Life You Can Save’s various projects and set the organization’s overall strategic direction. He founded and continues to run our Giving Game project, a global philanthropy education initiative that teaches people skills to give more effectively and makes these lessons tangible by providing workshop participants with real money to donate to the charities of their choice.

Prior to joining The Life You Can Save, Jon spent ten years at a prominent hedge fund, working primarily in the areas of risk management, portfolio optimization, and algorithm development. He has also served on the board of directors for GiveWell, a widely-respected charity evaluator.

Jon now lives on Bainbridge Island, WA with his wife Meghann Riepenhoff (an acclaimed artist) and their dog Oso.

The views expressed in blog posts are those of the author, and not necessarily those of Peter Singer or The Life You Can Save.