Zynga can get a bad rap on a lot of fronts, but it’s hard to knock the fact that they’ve aggressively pushed to raise money for charities using their games, and they today announced they’re working with Haiti nonprofit FATEM to build a school for children displaced by the Earthquake. The money was raised through the purchase of virtual social goods, and is the latest in an overall charity campaign for Haiti totalling over $2.8 million.
The money was raised through a “Sweet Seeds” campaign, where Farmville players purchase Sweet Yam seeds and the money goes to the charity. The campaign started on May 4th and goes until May 18th. Zynga has set up Zynga.org to keep track of the status of their charity campaigns. The FATEM group will be constructing “L’Ecole du Choix” which means the school of choice, in Mirebalais, Haiti. Over 30,000 refugees were displaced to the Central Plateau after the earthquake, and this is a great step towards helping.
“Since the January earthquake, Mirebalais has been flooded with over 30,000 refugees. Unfortunately, this department has the fewest number of private schools in the country and also the highest rate of school closures,” said Senator Edmonde Beauzile of Haiti’s Central Plateau. “Since 80 percent of Haiti’s schools are privates, it is simply impossible for the government to step in to support them. We are working with FATEM and Zynga in order to help to fill this vast need.”
It’s interesting that we don’t see a lot of public announcements of similar campaigns from other social gaming companies. Zynga not only leads the way in users, but they seem to lead the social gaming industry in defining norms, and more importantly, distinguishing themselves as a business. Zynga has clearly shown that raising money for charity is something they intend to do as long as they’re around, and surely this is good for the company image, but it’s also a good message to send to players.
“The Zynga community continues to show their support for Haiti,” said Virginia McArthur, director of Zynga.org. “Through Sweet Seeds, FarmVille players have the opportunity to see their virtual efforts build something tangible that directly affects Haitian children. It’s an honor and a privilege to help connect our players to such a worthwhile social cause.”