Author: 
Shelley Dunlop, QCOSS

You have by now no doubt heard of the incredible success of the new game, Pokémon Go. And even if you haven't, you have probably noticed a marked increase in people roaming around parks, shopping centres and other public areas, intent on their smartphones.

The new mobile app allows users to track down and catch Pokémon using GPS technology and augmented reality.

The difference to most other mobile games is that users have to physically walk around the neighbourhood to find the Pokémon, and to collect items at PokéStops.

But are you making the most of this craze?

What does this mean for nonprofit organisations?

While walking the streets to find Pokémon is an integral part of the game, users can also attract them to certain locations by using Lures. Lures aren't expensive: $1.49 for one, and even less if you buy them in bulk.

This can be a great opportunity to attract people to a particular place: of course, many shop owners have quickly worked this out and set Lures to attract more business. Why not choose the café where you can catch a few Pokémon during your lunch break, rather than the one where you can't?

Many other organisations, such as churches, museums and charities, have also been using Lures to attract patrons. Some of the tactics have included:

  • Taking photos of the Pokémon at museums, neighbourhood centres and churches and publishing on social media
  • Promoting the local Pokéstops and Gyms nearby on social media to attract players
  • Providing Pokémon stations and treats for players
  • Creating meet up events where players gather and go on a Pokémon hunting walk together (these could also be organised as a charity walk)
  • Attracting people to community events by placing Lures at the location
  • Using the app Charity Miles to raise funds for charities while users are on their Pokémon hunts
  • Promoting selfie competitions with Pokémon
  • Allowing employees to donate to a charity in exchange for time during work hours spent playing Pokémon Go

Niantic, who produced the app, have said that upgrades to the game will soon allow businesses to sponsor Pokéstops and Gyms, to drive foot traffic to their location.

It is a craze, and it might not be around forever, but with such an enormous and active user base it's worth considering what Pokémon Go can do for your charity!

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