Game for a cause: How to level up your fundraising

Gaming and esports stock photo, used in a Schools Against Cancer blog

Through Schools Against Cancer, a Team Roswell program, students are empowered to use their passions to make a difference for cancer patients. And we’ve seen it work — with activities like hockey, football, salsa dancing and more. So, what if your passion is gaming? This could be your opportunity to level up for the cancer cause.

Why Gaming?

“Gaming is the fastest growing industry for people who are Gen Z or younger millennials,” said James Basta, the esports coordinator at the University at Buffalo (UB). James works in conjunction with UB’s Student Gaming Association, one of the largest clubs on campus with nearly 800 members.

James Basta, the esports coordinator at the University at Buffalo (UB).
James Basta, the esports coordinator at the University at Buffalo.

“One of the great things about gaming is this is an inclusive community. We strive to really support everyone around us to create equitable environments that are safe spaces,” James explained. And a community — tied with a cause — is what Schools Against Cancer is all about.

How to Start a Gaming Fundraiser

James emphasized that when thinking about how to start a gaming fundraiser, you don’t need to reinvent the wheel. You can take a traditional, proven fundraising idea and throw in an esports twist.

“It’s finding the game that you’re passionate about, finding your community and then looking at what people have done in the past and kind of melding all those things together.”

So, what will you need to get started? That depends on what kind of esports fundraiser you’re planning to put on. If you’re a gamer looking to do a totally virtual event, there’s a good chance you already have what you need.

“For example, if you wanted to do something where you’re just streaming for 24 hours, just you or with other people, obviously you can make do with the bare minimum: computer, microphone, decent camera,” said James.

However, poor quality could cause people to click away, so that may be something to consider in advance.

Let’s say you’re looking to host an event with an in-person element. That makes it a little more complex, but it still might not be as hard as you think.

“If you go to a college campus, just reach out to the esports team. You can almost always find people who are willing to help you or would want to do this just because everyone’s had someone they’ve known be impacted by cancer.”

Gaming and esports stock photo for a Schools Against Cancer blog

Building a Gaming Audience

Streaming for gaming is largely done on Twitch, but you can also use other platforms, like TikTok, Facebook, Tiltify and more. When it comes to building your audience, unless you already have a large platform, it will take some prep work on your end.



“One of the biggest mistakes a lot of people make when they’re trying to make streaming into a business is they just get on and they start streaming, but they don’t do anything else. They don’t do any outside kind of outreach. That’s what comes back to reaching out to your community,” said James.


Gaming and esports stock photo for a Team Roswell blog

One way to reach out to your community is sharing your why — a fundraising tale as old as time. Tell people what you’re doing, when you’re doing it and why raising funds for Roswell Park matters to you.

Send your streaming link to people within your school,
family and community so they can take part in the action. While money donated through Twitch or Tiltify comes back to
the Roswell Park Alliance Foundation, you can also set up and share your Team Roswell fundraising dashboard for extra encouragement or motivation for those watching. 

Once you start your stream, you can routinely share your dashboard in the chat. You could also have a scrolling bar at the bottom of the screen reminding people to donate. 


Charity Gaming Fundraisers in Action

Gaming fundraisers are happening all over the world, and Josh Piesczynski of Cheektowaga, NY, paved the way for Team Roswell back in 2019. Josh has always loved playing video games, and he also had several family members who had been affected by cancer.

Twitchypeel is Josh’s Twitch persona where he livestreams while playing Fortnite and collects donations to support cancer research at Roswell Park.

Josh said, “You have nothing to lose and everything to gain from the happiness that fundraising for a cause you care about can bring to others and yourself.”

“Everyone’s had their life impacted by cancer, so it just takes the right group of people having the vision to see how we can use gaming to make a difference.”

James Basta, Esports Coordinator at SUNY Buffalo.