This article was published on January 23, 2019

Massive Twitch livestream showcases the future of online fundraising

Massive Twitch livestream showcases the future of online fundraising
Rachel Kaser
Story by

Rachel Kaser

Internet Culture Writer

Rachel is a writer and former game critic from Central Texas. She enjoys gaming, writing mystery stories, streaming on Twitch, and horseback Rachel is a writer and former game critic from Central Texas. She enjoys gaming, writing mystery stories, streaming on Twitch, and horseback riding. Check her Twitter for curmudgeonly criticisms.

Twitch streamer H.Bomberguy raked in more than $340,000 in donations for a beleaguered children’s charity during a marathon weekend stream. He did so by combining two of Twitch’s most reliable forces: star power and charity. If the feat proves anything, it’s what networks like these are capable of when harnessed for the power of good.

The stream was a massive one (clocking in at over 57 hours) meant to benefit Mermaids, a British organization for trans and gender-nonconforming children. Mermaids was originally awarded £500,000 (about $650,000) by the National Lottery, but a public backlash led the Lottery to put the funds under review.

H. Bomberguy, who goes by Harry Brewis outside of Twitch, said in his announcement he’d already planned to stream Donkey Kong 64, a personal white whale, to completion. In response to the “woefully misinformed” media coverage, he’d decided to donate the proceeds from the stream to Mermaids.

Mermaid tweeted support for the stream, and what was originally a Donkey Kong stream quickly became something important and memorable.

During Brewis’ mega-stream, various guests entered his Discord service to voice support. The stream featured legendary game maker John Romero, activist Chelsea Manning, and Grant Kirkhope — who voiced Donkey Kong in the very game Brewis was playing. You haven’t lived until you’ve heard DK say, “Trans rights!”

One of the most memorable appearances was US Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who popped in after a scorching Twitter diatribe against criticism of the “transgender bathroom” issue. She concluded by quoting the Mermaid tweet promoting H.bomberguy’s stream.

After multiple requests to join the chat and talk with Brewis, she did just that:

Reactions to the stream, especially on Twitter, were overwhelmingly positive:

Twitch Star Power

Charitable organizations have hosted events on Twitch almost as long as the site itself has existed. From Games Done Quick (an annual event benefiting different charities) to Extra Life (benefiting children’s hospitals), multiple organizations have leveraged Twitch’s capacity for generosity and community spirit to raise money for worthy causes.

A Twitch spokesperson told TNW, “Over $40 million has been raised by the community for charity in 2018” and over $100 million since the site launched in 2011.

Celebrity appearances on Twitch streams aren’t new either. Some well-known faces such as Deadmau5 and Snoop Dogg have their own Twitch channels, if rather understated ones.

You might also remember one of the highlights of last year was a team-up between Tyler “Ninja” Blevins and Drake. That stream also featured several other celebrities (such as Travis Scott and JuJu Smith-Schuster) who showed up to play Fortnite with Blevins. Both their appearance and tweeted support is what drove that stream to be one of the most-viewed in Twitch’s history.

Both of these are common, or at least familiar, sights on Twitch. But this stream, in particular, was important because it combined both the surefire hit of celebrity appearances and the altruistic appeal of charitable giving, generating a massive windfall for the British charity.

Charitable Spirit

In the past, when celebrities come together to help raise money for a charity, it usually looked something like a benefit concert. While those kinds of event have their place, the likes of a Twitch stream is more personal and interactive, not to mention less expensive to arrange.

Imagine a stream like Brewis’ directed towards cancer research, or wildlife preservation.

If major figures in the entertainment and political arenas came together more often on Twitch, Brewis’s donation could be just the beginning. Twitch streamers can command audiences of thousands, and give voice to both their communities and to causes.

And at the very least, now more people in the public sphere know that Twitch can be something other than “That place where people watch other people play video games.”

Brewis announced after the stream he’d also be donating the proceeds from any Twitch Bits (Twitch’s in-house tip currency) and subscriptions to an emergency fund for trans and nonbinary people.

He also finished Donkey Kong 64 during the stream, in case you were wondering.

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