Amidst the fragging and celebration that was ChicagoL4Nd, the Gunslingers and their honorable guests raised $1,400 for the Tied the Leader Foundation. Our mission remains as it has been since its inception in 2006. We seek to recognize the sacrifices made by real military servicepeople – the very individuals whose culture we emulate so casually on a nightly basis.
Many virtual communities of gamers find themselves motivated to leverage their combined strength to effect a positive impact on the real world. This idea is not exclusive to us. For every charitable endeavor, there is a unique strategy. There are many ways to pass the hat. For every unique strategy, there seems to be a specific challenge. There are many rules and laws that govern the space where altruism meets cold, hard cash – and rightfully so.
In recent months, Tied the Leader has employed social networking as our weapon of choice. In its current form, our Foundation exists as a portal made possible by Causes.com. In conjunction with Facebook, they operate the Network For Good.
Donations made online are forwarded directly [and in total] to our designated beneficiary. As the arms and legs of our agenda, Azalea Charities interfaces directly with the combat wounded veterans who receive the aid that we intend to provide through our contributions. We raise the funds. They put them into practice. Causes.com is the vehicle that brings us all into concert on the same goal.
This requires that less hands touch the proceeds before they reach their final destination. This allows the donor to instantly obtain a receipt that qualifies them for a tax deduction. This means that middle-men are never taxed for managing cashflow. This prevents third-party transactors – like PayPal, for instance – from collecting a cut for themselves. No one should ever profit from charity. Under this mode of operation, no one does.
Of all the scenarios that we have employed in pursuing this charitable objective, this one is the cleanest, most efficient, and most transparent. Leveraging this online application enables us to meet our goals without having to operate as a Non-Profit entity with tax-exempt status. This same scenario would work for anyone that wanted to aggregate donations to a chosen entity that possessed a 501-c3 number.
At our most recent LAN Party, we employed merchandising tactics as a fundraiser. Our goal has always been to offer something in exchange for contributions to our charity – be it an experience, a keepsake, or a prize. We are extremely fortunate in that our membership is willing to dontate the wares that provided the incentive for people to participate. One of our members – a veteran himself – produced a mother load of branded gear that would enable gamers to express their enthusiasm about their membership in Tied the Leaders’s official gaming clan.
Another member hand-crafted a wooden resupply container filled with bottles of home-grown beer. We called it the ‘Ark of the Covenant’ package. That’s right. The Gunslingers have their own vintage now. It’s nice – a hint of oranges in a weiss brew.
The ease in proliferating this phenomenon reaches well beyond the hosting of an occassional party. With high-visibility in a virtual setting like Facebook, anyone who witnesses our progress can get involved. The impact becomes viral. In recent weeks, friends of our community have cited their own birthdays as a reason to give. Other allies have made donations as a tribute to the tournaments that Tied the Leader hosts for their amusement in cyberspace.
Whatever the occassion, the transactions are clean. Aside from tickets purchased to attend an event, no one is giving money to Tied the Leader. A charitable donation goes directly to charity. We do not need anyone’s help to run a website for gamers. The money donated is intended to benefit people who come from actual wars with actual hardships which they must overcome. Through these structures, we are able to help foster their rehabilitation, and raise awareness for their needs.
To all of the people that have made our cause your own, we offer our sincerest thanks. To those people who benefit from our humble efforts, we can only hope that our small measure of thanks provide a recognizable fraction of what is needed to restore you to a normal quality of life.