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Game-Funding: The application of Gamification and Crowdfunding as tools for supporting child developmental activities in low-income rural areas.

The aspiration is to utilise the concepts of Gamification and Crowdfunding to achieve higher success rates in child developmental activities from ages 0-5. This idea aims to initiate increased transparency and accountability by providing task checklists to families. Parents can accomplish these tasks, enabling them to gain financial rewards by fulfilling development activities and also track the children's progress. The idea intends to attract people and organisations from all over the world to support and fund child development initiatives in low-income rural areas.

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How will Game-Funding work?

Gamification is the use of game thinking and game mechanics in non-game contexts to engage users in solving problems and increase users' self-contributions. Crowdfunding is the practice of funding a project or venture by raising monetary contributions from a large number of people, typically via the internet. The crowdfunding model is fueled by three types of actors: the project initiator who proposes the idea and/or project to be funded; individuals or groups who support the idea; and a moderating organization (the "platform") that brings the parties together to launch the idea.

The idea is to merge the concepts of Gamification and Crowdfunding in order to develop a leading practice for rural child development.

To get the best out of the idea, an online platform is needed where people can view photos and background information (details about families, parents' annual income, living conditions, how many members in each family, etc.) of children up to 5 years old from different parts of the world.
When a new member signs up on the online platform, the respective member will be able to access information regarding the child or children they want to 'adopt' financially i.e. it won’t be a traditional adoption. Based on the available information, people will choose which child or children they want to 'adopt' to support financially.

Each member will pledge monthly financial support to help the family of the child/children they chose. Initially, a goodwill amount of 1 month's worth of support will be granted to families to motivate them to engage in the programme and nurture a feeling of inclusivness. For the support to be continuos, the parents will need to complete a number of weekly tasks, incorporating the concept of Gamification, to prove that they are taking care of the children in accordance with baseline development standards i.e. parents need to complete assigned tasks for previous month in order to get the financial support for the upcoming month.

In addition, the Coordinators will also be maintaining 'Leaderboards' on their groups of families and the top 6-10 families will receive non-financial support from Corporate Organizations and NGOs.

The tasks will include providing children with:
  • ​Essential food items; cereals, milk, fruits, vitamins
  • Clean water and clothes;
  • Hygeine requirements; proper way of washing hands, etc.
  • Vaccination and medications;
  • Entertainment and games, reading books to them, helping them make friends in the community
  • Support for parents to teach and educate.
  • Community based learning events involving parents and children.

The tasks will change every week of each month, depending on the needs and age of each child. The purpose of the tasks is to provide the right guidance and support for parents in caring of their children.

[Updated 28/11/2014]
The tasks will be overlapping and nature of the tasks will be as follows:
Year 0 to 5 - Immunisation and Nutrition
Year 1 to 5 - Provide Support to Parents
Year 2 to 5 - Induct in Education
Year 3 to 5 - Track and Improve Progress (education, health, nutrition)
Year 4 to 5 - Maintain Progress and Engage Parents to improve the family's quality of life

When someone adopts a child, their optimal pledge is to send £20 each month to the child's family. It could be more or less, and using crowdfunding, the surplus or the shortage will be matched to each family.


How will the parents be supervised?

In the assisted areas, there will be Coordinators and Specialists. One Coordinator will be responsible for 30+ families. Each family has to prove to the Coordinator that they used the money to complete the assigned weekly tasks on a timely basis by filling the checklists. [Updated 30/11/2014] In order to increase the implementability of the tasks, the parents will be given educational and promotional material to understand so that the Coordinators can ask questions regarding the material when they visit the families. This will be an additional condition to get the financial support for the next month in order to ensure developmental goals are being understood and met. 5 Coordinators will be managed by 1 Specialist. The Specialists will meet bi-monthly to report progress, discuss emerging problems and review supporting documents to ensure transparency.


How will the funds be used?

As an example for the implementation of the idea, each sponsor optimally contributes £20 each month. The amount of financial support given to parents will based on the average annual per capita income of a country. As an example, £15 will be granted to the family of the child and £5 will be used for administration, including the monthly salaries of Coordinators and Specialists. [Updated to 01/12/2014] A families' trust index (FTI) will be based on the first years' activities. Completion statuses of tasks assigned to families which are more susceptible to fraudulent actions will be analysed in-depth. This way, Sponsors can monitor how their donations are being spent as the tasks checklists will be available for review on the online platform. After the FTI has been built, cellular technology can be incorporated for long-term cooperation with the families. Once the families have established trust and are committed to the tasks, there will be lesser difficulty faced in engaging them on a mobile platform. In order to inspire and motivate the Specialists and Coordinators to achieve more in their communities, will be awarded 'Points' and 'Badges'. The group which secures the most points will win a bonus for their community in the form of a social event such as a community fair or dinner. Whereas they will receive badges for trainings attended and milestones achieved which will also contribute in comparing results in the FTI.

Who will benefit from this idea and where are they located?

Children from low-income rural areas will benefit from this program as they will get more attention and care from their parents and a better quality of life, given the nature of the tasks. They will have a proper upbringing which will influence their character as adults. Parents will also benefit because their child will grow up in the right way, without an medical, physical or psychological infirmity. After 5 years, parents will realise the importance of providing their children with a better environment so that they grow up to be responsible adults without any developmental handicap

How could you test this idea in a quick and low-cost way right now?

[Updated 30/11/2014] Organizational entity creation along with appropriate remuneration structures for the Coordinators and Specialists and an administration and policy framework to ensure smooth running of operations. This can be done with the help of support from sponsors such as UKAid, AusAid, USAID and corporate sponsors such as Coca-Cola and McDonalds. Community Mobilization and Involvement need to be achieved in order for the community to gain mass advantages out of the programme. This needs to be brought out by leveraging existing non-governmental networks as implementing partners and resources through the help of large donor funding agencies such as Save the Children, Amnesty International, WHO and United Nations Development Programme. Inclusion of all stakeholders at all levels so that the programme is highlighted in countries and communities implementing it. The governmental actors need to informed and taken into confidence. This can be done by the help of soft marketing activities and community involvement. These actors can include, community leaders and champions, parents, high and low ranking officials.

What kind of help would you need to make your idea real?

In order to make the idea a reality, the following needs to be put in place, in order of most significant first: The development of the online platform; Publicity, Advertising and Marketing Campaigns; Support from international donor organisations and charities; Support from the international web community; Programmatic Monitoring & Evaluation Specialists; Implementation Partners in the form of NGOs who will be providing the Coordinators; Support of Local Government, Support from Multinational Fast Moving Consumer Goods companies.

Is this an idea that you or your organization would like to take forward?

  • Yes. I am looking for partners that might be interested in taking this idea forward in their communities.


Join the conversation:

Photo of Masheyat Chowdhury

Good idea in terms of a game, its a great way for children ages 0-5 to play, however, in terms of payment, think about how this would work? Is it realistic?

Photo of wekesa zab

'Revisiting the Dependency Syndrome'
Africa's failure to stand up for itself leads rest of world to despise it
and its people - Graca Machel

Jus thought ad share this article ...

Photo of An Old Friend

HI Wekesa,
Very interesting article. Thanks for sharing.

Photo of wekesa zab

Came across this publication on - "Using the Infrastructure of a Conditional Cash Transfer Program to Deliver a Scalable Integrated Early Childhood Development Program in Colombia: cluster randomized controlled trial"

J-PAL ... Quite good a study , done by folks at this lab.. Might be resource to get in touch an seek more information...

Photo of Design Pakistan

This is a really thoughtful idea!!good luck

Photo of Soon Leung

Hello Eleftheria, we have submitted a similar idea that will leverage child care centers building and planning with a game-like crowdfunding app, comments are welcome:

As a developer, I also think gamification will work well on a crowdfunding platform (likes Kickstarter & Indiegogo). And I am really impressed that you have the game logic well defined and a straight-forward plan.

Here are other aspects worth considering:
1) The business model of the app, which takes into consideration the organization's structure and operations:
2) Legal issues likes intellectual property, trademarks, copyrights and patents

Photo of An Old Friend

Thanks for the encouraging feedback Soon.
Looking forward to collaborate further with you.

Photo of wekesa zab

Halo, Eleftheria .. Exciting to funds availability approach.. How might solution get rid of the middle men in this money process and ensure sustainability beyond over dependancy on handouts? .. I read a kiva model of trustees and a giving cash transfers directly..
Good job team ..
Looking forward to the development of it ...

Photo of An Old Friend

Thanks for the encouraging input Wakesa,

Middle men are not included in the process as it will be overseen by donor agency monitoring networks and the organization that is going to game-fund itself as well. Overdependancy is avoided as the amount of the support itself is small. I will have a look at the kiva model and see if there can be any takeaways for this concept to be further developed.

Photo of Wai Yee Tang

Very good and creative idea, however I feel that the authorization should pay more attention on how the money is going to be spent (by the parents especially), they might use the money that they received elsewhere and the intention of the public donating money will be in vain. You might also want to consider how trustworthy the coordinators and specialists are. Transparency throughout the whole process is absolutely important! Likewise if everything is well monitored, there will be a huge advantages on the kids! :)

Photo of An Old Friend

Thanks for the encouraging input Wai!

The purpose of the concept is to empower the low-income families themselves and not to dictate where they spend the extra income they get from the game-funded tasks. The implementation network will embed transparency via a performance based remuneration program

Photo of Meena Kadri

Fascinating approach, Eleftheria. We'd recommend you think about a really lightweight way you might test assumptions behind this idea while engaging potential end users to see what you can learn towards building up to a fuller scale pilot. Looking forward to hearing what steps you might take on this – which you can add directly to our question about testing through hitting the Update Entry button on the right of your post. Here's more tips on prototyping to get you inspired:

Photo of An Old Friend

Thank You Meena,

Nice to hear that you thought the idea is fascinating.
We are a group of 6 people and are really passionate about developing this approach further.
We are currently looking at implementation models where we can conceptualise a pilot in order to spread the idea among the community and eventually onboard major donors to support the initiative.

Photo of Sanjana Ramamurthy

Hi Eleftheria!

Really impressive and creative idea!
What I like most about your idea is how incentive it is. Financial supporting really motivates parents from low-income community to provide better growing environment for their children. Also, this fascinating approach teaches children the important truth that no wealth without work from their early ages.

One question for your idea.
Since money is involved into your idea, I am worried about one issue.

How can you guarantee parents will finish the task in a honest way?
Your mentioned the supervision system which is really helpful and important. But I think sometimes it would be quite difficult for supervisors to estimate how money was used and whether tasks were really done or just in a perfunctory way? For example, parents are asked to read with their children for 5 hours a week to complete the task. Could you please elaborate in which way can parents prove that they have done this?

Photo of Harrawal Z

Hi Sanjana!

I have been following this idea and I think the intention here is to cultivate togetherness in families and not question their honesty. Money is just the object to motivate parents to achieve that togetherness by fulfilling set tasks to actually do it for themselves and the family.

However, to make the whole process transparent, for example:
The supervisor may ask questions about the readings from the parent:
what was it about, what aspects did you find interesting?

and may ask the child :
did you like the story read to you? what did you like about it? would you like your mum or dad to read more to you?

Also, since Gamification is involved, I think the set tasks will tend to be more of a nature that is measurable and accountable.

Photo of hamza azim

Brilliant Idea! I really like the concept . I believe a lot focus needs to be done towards managing the record of each child, for eg: noting down how much money has been given, is the checklist being followed and ensuring the money is being spent rightly.Close coordination and effective communication channels are highly important. Keep it up,Best of luck!

Photo of Amanda K. Lotz

Hi Eleftheria and Team,

Very creative idea! I like your intention to use gamification as a tool. As contributor Meena Kadria suggested, it would be great if you could create a very rough prototype to share with your target end users. Understanding if these end users are in a rural village in Kenya or a slum in Manila could influence your design differently. Kudos to you for creating a team of 6 people who are committed to this idea. If you are able to engage your end users directly, I think it will really drive your work forward!

I am curious about the delivery format. What are some ideas you are thinking of? How will you test these ideas with end users? To benefit from the gamification concept, what are some ideas to make this a fun or engaging activity?

You may also want to look into behavioral approaches to learning, if the goal is to promote a behavioral and mindset change. For example, there are lessons in the financial inclusion sector about how reminder text messages can be used to influence behavior. In the health field, there are apps that present tips for pregnant mothers. Many of these tools can be applied to basic feature phones, which are becoming more accessible to even the poorest individuals. I would think about how the delivery method can lead to a change in mindset (inclination to support a healthy lifestyle for infants/toddlers), rather than fulfill tasks for financial reward.

I like your ideal of using coordinators and specialists to check in and validate information from families, but this can be cumbersome and time consuming. There needs to be incentive/motivation for field level staff to collect data and, if it is not collected regularly, it may not be telling of the whole story. If the purpose is not to show quantifiable outcomes, but rather promote understanding and behavioral change, there may be less need for regular data collection and use of coordinators/specialists.

Below are some resources (most from another sector) that may inform your thinking. Though, I think it's great for us to learn from other sectors in development!


Consider the format-- it may affect engagement/participation of end users. In this example, it was something as simple as changing a paper application to include a savings plan for the future, to encourage long-term savings goals. However, it was only through speaking with customers that they uncovered the reasons why a new application form was needed.

Text messaging campaign for healthy pregnancy and motherhood. Can technology be leveraged?

Behavioral economics SMS/text message approaches. How SMS/text message reminders have led to increased savings.

Clients/Customer will always lie, but the goal could be to get them thinking about how their lives could be different if they change their behavior. A financial inclusion example, to get you thinking:
Let's say that customers lie in the ranking of their own financial status. Either way, surveys such as the tool below can be a method to get them thinking and talking about how financial services can impact their lives.

Photo of An Old Friend

Thanks for the encouraging input Hamza, your points are well noted.

Hi Amanda,

Thank you for the great feedback and excellent materials.

Nice to hear from an expert in the field of international development and financial inclusion. One of our main driving factors behind this idea was actually financial inclusion and the equal distribution of income and wealth in the world in order for everyone in the world to progress together.

The implementation network prototype is in the pipeline and I will invite you to suggest and contribute as it is developed.

The delivery format will be one of a 60 month iterative checklist which will include elements of:


Actually the purpose here is to show quantifiable outcomes as well as promote understanding and behavioural change in tandem, much like child benefits and support in developed countries. A families' trust index (FTI) will be based on the first years' activities and we can then incorporate cellular technology into the equation, once the families are onboard, there is lesser difficulty in engaging them on a mobile platform.

There will be Leaderboards maintained by Coordinators for their respective families, incorporating the Gamification concept and both Coordinators and Specialists will be supported by a performance based project appropriated salary which will be influenced by the level of performance of their Coordinators.

Once again thank you for the AMAZING contributions. I will be in touch when the implementation network and delivery method comes to fruition to get your suggestions on how to make it better.

Photo of Shabair Chaudhry

Hi All,
I must say when i saw the subject I thought this is another one of those insignificant funding schemes that exploit African poverty fir their own needs. But reading through this seems like something that can genuinely work, the team has managed something potentially great.
Gamefunding & crowdfunding could definitely work if all the necessary measures are taken. Anything that helps with removing the scurge of poverty in this World I am definitely rooting for that. However, the indian sub-continent is another Africa in making when it comes to child development factors.
Well done & good luck for this brilliant initiative.

Photo of An Old Friend

Thanks for the encouraging input Shabair!

The program is not restricted to Africa but all low-income rural communities globally. Support is needed from the international community as well as the corporate community in order to make this a reality. The equal distribution of wealth will enable all human beings to have a better standard of living and for children to thrive in their first five years.

Photo of Erica Gallina

That's a great idea! Meritocracy can also be a good incentive to help crowdfunding to be more effective.

Photo of An Old Friend

Thanks Erica for the positive comment.

Photo of Wendy Liao

Hello there!

This idea does show potential to become a full scale project.
But will you be building a pilot to study the effects of the activities on the communities and whether they will accept and participate fully?

Photo of An Old Friend

Hello Wendy,

Thank you for the encouraging input, a pilot is in the works.
Check this space for updates.

Photo of Muideen Bakare

Nice idea of reward and reinforcement. It does help to shape behavior.Best wishes in pulling through with the idea.

Photo of An Old Friend

Thanks Muideen for the positive feedback.

Photo of Joseph Kalibbala

Eleftheria Bourmpou this is a very good idea, very unique, innovative and interesting. It can work, since the parents are continuously motivated to complete tasks.

Photo of An Old Friend

Hi Joseph,

Thank you for your feedback. We will do our best to improve this idea even more.

Photo of Qasim Khan

Great idea- looks promising. Good luck.

Photo of An Old Friend

Thanks for your encouraging feedback Qasim.

Photo of Hashim Akbar

Great job Harrawal and team!!

I think this is an awesome idea for poverty alleviation and giving a chance to the upcoming generations to make a difference for themselves and their families. Without such initiatives i doubt we will be helping the underprivileged to ever move up the ladder.

Just a small concern regarding the sum of money being given every month, i believe it should be a little more significant so at the end of the day, the family also get extra income left over for other luxuries. Moreover you can maybe add two donors sponsoring one family and this will increase their disposable income.

Anyhow Good Luck with your endeavor!!

Photo of An Old Friend

Hi Hashim,

Thank you for your feedback and your suggestion.

The amount of financial support for each child that is given in the description of our idea is just an example. It will be based on the average annual per capita income of a country. Our goal is to provide a better life for the children in their first years.

In our idea each child will have one donor. If there is more than one sponsored child in one family then the family will get more donations. We also considered allowing more than one sponsor per child, but we soon realized that this will be unfair, since some children will have no sponsors and others will have more than one.

Thank you again for your feedback.

Photo of Hongqiang Zhang

Hi Eleftheria!

I idea is really novel and is one that is creatively thought out!

Combining two concepts into one is exciting and gives the impression that you probably applied a theoretical approach to a practical problem which has the potential to work pretty good in this context!

However, to make the idea more detailed: you will need to iterate the task checklists, the measures of success as well as the implementation network

Photo of An Old Friend

Hello Hongqiang!

Thanks for the encouraging input.

I am iterating the task checklists as we speak, if you have any suggestions, you are welcome to contribute!

The measures of success will be linked with the task checklists and the implementation networks will be the local chapters of International NGOs who are already working in the areas.

Photo of Oladapo Adediran

The idea is direct, but can we trust the information parent provide. Some parent can provide false information just to rip out money from others.

Photo of An Old Friend

Thanks for your comment Oladapo,

The intention here is to cultivate togetherness and provide financial support to families and not question their honesty. However, in order to tackle the issue which you mentioned, coordinators and specialists will monitor the status of tasks by directly visiting the families and interviewing children as well by asking the following possible questions from parents, in this

case for readings:
- what was it about, what aspects did you find interesting?

And the following possible questions from the children:
- Did you like the story read to you? what did you like about it? would you like your mum or dad to read more to you?

Looking forward to further contributions.

Photo of Williams Olufemi

How do you intend to interview children of age 0 - 5 ?

Photo of An Old Friend

Thanks for your comment Williams Olufemi,

Children between ages of 3-5 will be usually interviewed since they would have the communication skills to tell the coordinator about their experiences. Additionally, psychologists may be involved into interviewing the children in order to better gauge the engagement of the parents and the involvement of the child in the tasks.

Also a trust level index of the families will be developed based on the long-term cooperation with the families. Completion statuses of tasks assigned to families which are more susceptible to "fraud" actions will be analyzed in depth. Additional control procedures may be introduced to such families, like interviewing families in neighborhoods, request for additional evidences regarding the successful completion of tasks and etc..

We are looking forward for your suggestions and contributions to make to the development of this idea better.

Photo of Andi SP

Dear Eleftheria,

Nice idea, I like the information system based platform to support 0-5 years children from financial sector.
I think this platform is suitable for an upper middle income class, that want to be involved in a social activity without going far from their hometown.
Looking forward for the development of your idea.

We also have another idea to support this challenge, can you kindly look over and say any thought about it? thank you.

Andi SP

Photo of An Old Friend

Dear Andi,

Thanks for your comment,

The crux of the idea, as you mentioned is to involve as many people as possible to contribute on the well-being of children and their families. Also, since there is no minimum amount for financial contribution, any person, not depending on their income will feel comfortable to contribute financially to the idea.

Looking forward to further contributions.