Are you one of those that think that online games such as Farmville are a complete waste of time? Think again! Farmville by Zynga players raised more than $900,000 in September to October 1, 2010 by planting virtual Sweet Beets seeds and sending virtual school supplies to other players. The Farmville campaign, “One Billion Ways to Help Haiti” was part of the Zynga.org’s ongoing effort to help school children and families in Haiti.
The concept was simple and a win-win situation for Farmville farmers. The free and easy way was to place a free virtual backpack icon on your Farmville farm and then send fellow friends who play Farmville, virtual school supplies. Zynga’s original goal was that if players sent 400 million virtual school supplies gifts, they would donate $100,000 to L’Ecole du Choix (School of Choice) to build a school in Haiti. When that goal was quickly met, Farmville challenged gamers to send one billion virtual school supplies and then they would double their donation to $200,000.
On October 2, Farmville players received this message when they logged on to play: “Together we have raised over $900,000 to complete the School of Choice in Haiti. Thank you for sending ONE BILLION school supplies in support of the campaign.”
Players also got something for their farm for participating besides the self-satisfaction of helping others. At pre-set levels, Farmville farmers were able to trade in virtual school supplies from their backpack to get exclusive virtual Farmville gifts for their farm. In addition, players were given a congratulatory hot air balloon for their farm.
For as little as $5.00, players could purchase Farmville dollars to buy virtual Sweet Beets to plant on their farm. The purchase gave players a one week permit to plant as many Sweet Beets as they can and the beets would not wither. The Sweet Beets campaign is the fourth in a series of Sweet Seeds for Haiti campaigns that Farmville has held since October 2009. Fifty percent of the money donated by players goes to two Haiti non-profits: FATEM and Fonkoze.org, which provide school lunches to children in Haiti and help Haitian women who are living in poverty. FATEM also supports L’Ecole du Choix (School of Choice), to build schools in Haiti. Players donated more than $700,000 through the current Sweet Seeds (sweet beets) campaign.
Zynga has more than 180 million users worldwide that play games such as Farmville, Mafia Wars, YoVille, Café World, and Petville. After the January 12, 2010 Haiti earthquake, over a five day span, 25 million players from Zynga’s FarmVille, FishVille, Mafia Wars and Zynga Poker games, donated $1.5 million to the United Nation’s World Food Programme (WFP) by purchasing limited virtual items. Zynga.org’s mission of “changing the world through games” seems to be exactly what they are doing.