How many bulbs does it take to start a fundraiser?
Hello – I’m Dave, one of the organisers of Tabletop Scotland, an in-person board game and roleplaying game (RPG) convention held at the Dewars Centre in Perth. The rest of the team are Bulb, Oliver, Simon, Mark and Kirsten.
In 2019, the last time we were able to host the event due to the pandemic, we had over 1,500 different people attend the convention which was a 54% increase on what we had in 2018 and puts us in the top 5 or 6 conventions in the UK based on ‘unique’ attendees. As that event is in Perth we partner with different local charities to raise money for them. This year, we’ve chosen Penumbra as a charity partner.
So why Penumbra? I also work for RBS/NatWest, and in 2019 I hosted a charity board games event at the bank’s Gogarburn campus for colleagues as part of Mental Health Awareness week. Penumbra was a charity that I know several colleagues have been supported by and that seemed like a good fit. When the team first chatted about charity options after 2020’s event we all recognised that supporting a mental health charity made a lot of sense from a few different angles. 4 out of the 6 members of my team have or have had mental health challenges in their lives that have caused disruption to their day to day lives. We know, some of us directly, that the pandemic has had a significant impact on the mental health of a lot of people. We also know, anecdotally and via groups like https://www.thebodhanagroup.org/ and https://jaspersgameday.com/, that RPGs are powerful tools in supporting people with mental health challenges. Roleplaying games are ultimately a social experience and social interaction and connections are something many have been without during this time.
When discussing which specific charity to support, we wanted one that was Scotland-wide and also had strong connections with the mental health of teenagers and young adults. Penumbra ticked those boxes and because of my previous involvement it was an easy decision to make. We’re particularly keen to raise money directed at suicide prevention in teenagers and young adults, akin to what Jasper’s Game Day does in the link above.
When it became clear that we couldn’t do a Tabletop Scotland in 2020, a few people suggested I organise an online roleplaying game convention to raise money for charity. With no Tabletop Scotland to organise, I had the spare time so decided that I wanted to do this. One of those who suggested the idea, Mark, was particularly keen that the convention supported It’s Good 2 Give because his son has leukaemia and their family have been hugely supported by the charity. Something else that happened when the pandemic arrived was that the roleplaying game hobby saw a massive spike in interest from people to play online once lockdowns started. Lots of people trying it out for the first time and a lot of people returning to the hobby after a break.
So in late May 2020 I recruited a team of willing volunteers and the convention was announced shortly after. On October 3rd & 4th 2020 we had over 200 people from 9 different countries playing roleplaying games online, all on the basis of raising money for charity. We ultimately raised over £3,100 (inc Gift Aid) which amazed all of us as we were thinking £1,000 or something similar when we started out.
After the success of 2020’s AlbaCon event, it was an easy option to commit to doing it again in 2021.
The lingo explained:
Roleplaying Games (RPGs) – Dungeons & Dragons is the closest mainstream reference for what the RPG hobby is. These are group based story telling games which use dice to manage elements of chance. The lingo explained! No board required as most of the ‘game’ is played in the imagination of the players, although many players use drawn / printed maps and miniatures (toy soldiers) to simulate aspects of the game.
Playing online – There are a lot of methods to facilitate this. Zoom, Discord, Skype etc can all be used for video / voice so that the people playing can interact directly. In addition to that there are tools, referred to as virtual tabletops, which enable the sharing of imagery, manage dice rolls and simulate aspects that may otherwise be done by using a map and miniatures.
How Does it work?
Our direct fundraising happens in 3 ways.
- Tickets bought by attendees to play games. Each “table” raises between £20 and £30 depending on number of players. So much of our drive right now is about getting people to host games for people to play. Which connects to 2.
- Sponsoring companies donate discounts, vouchers and digital products for our attendees which a) attracts them to take part due to the connections and b) enables us to leverage their communities to signal boost the convention. Which connects to 3.
- Donations via our JustGiving page and for this year we also have a raffle via the https://raffall.com/ service.
One our sponsors, D&D Beyond, provide digital tools for Dungeons & Dragons (D&D) players as well as official digital versions of the books that D&D has.
D&D Beyond have donated almost $800 worth of content, more than $600 of which we’ve put into the raffle with the remaining being used as random giveaway prizes over the weekend itself.
Huge thanks to Dave and the team for their brilliant fundraiser.