Habitat for Humanity is an international not-for-profit dedicated to giving people a decent place to live. While it's the third largest charity in the US, Habitat is little known here in Australia, especially among the young people they typically connect with overseas.
With their 1000 Homes for Hope campaign about to launch, Habitat Australia wanted to let people know about their work, and get people to get behind the cause.
We knew young people were interested to causes like ours, and are happy to support them. But if we came on too strong, they’d run a mile. We had to be friendly, open, down to earth. Inspire people, rather than use pressure or guilt trips.
To give young people an easy, fun way of learning about Habitat for Humanity, we created Habitatland. This was an online community based game, similar to Facebook’s Cityville and Farmville. It allowed users to secure a plot of land, build virtual houses, complete tasks within the community and earn credits to expand their virtual life.
Research had showed us the power that online gaming has to connect with young people. Through Habitatland, we used the info we knew about our audience to create a playful, fictional world based on Habitat’s mission. Young people could have fun playing in the virtual world – while being subtly educated about the real one. Not a bad way to spend a bus ride, or distract yourself from a uni assignment!
While Habitatland was connected to Facebook, it actually resided on a branded microsite that promoted the 1000 Homes for Hope campaign. This gave us a way of spreading word about the campaign, and opening the door to a future generation of donors.
Donation value is confidential, but the game attracted over 7,000 visits, plus big name sponsorships from the likes of Domain, Dulux and QBE.