This post details our goals for 2017, how we plan to achieve them, and our benchmarks for success. We have incorporated what we learned in 2016, so it might be helpful to read our 2016 Year in Review before reading this post.
In 2017, we plan to focus more heavily on the poker community. We will continue pursuing certain promising leads in other industries and research possible points of entry, but this will not be a major project in 2017. Please note that we might still decide to devote significant resources to other industries under the right circumstances, such as finding a very dedicated ambassador in the eSports community.
In the poker world, we are working toward establishing institutional fundraising sources because they offer a potentially bigger, more easily scalable, and sustainable stream of donations. Such partnerships have recently become possible for us due to our past success in the poker world. We can now offer substantial brand recognition and an expanded network in the industry, including some of the best and most well-respected players in the game as brand ambassadors. Specifically, we plan to collaborate with major stakeholders in the poker industry on charity tournaments. We will also explore other promising forms of corporate partnerships.
For our short-term priorities, we want to evaluate and reconsider our current fundraising model centered around the pledge. We will be expanding our ambassador program to involve key supporters more closely into our activities. We plan to attend more live tournaments, which we neglected in 2016. We will also be looking to conduct more online campaigns and matching challenges due to their scalability and past success.
Given REG‘s growth, we believe some of our processes need to be adapted. We have decided to invest in some structural improvements, such as re-designing our website (launch in May or June 2017), creating a new donor management system, improving our transparency, and expanding our tax deductibility. We are confident that these improvements will help to increase our organizational effectiveness.
Expand our ambassador program
Target: Have at least 8 official ambassadors by the end of 2017 (in addition to REG co-founders).
Details: We plan to invest more heavily in our ambassador program this year. Personal endorsements have been critical for our success in the past, and we want to build on that by involving additional poker players more closely. While some supporters have acted as ambassadors in the past, we believe featuring their role more prominently will expand our reach and further increase our visibility in the poker world.
Reconsider our pledge model
Target: Evaluate our pledge model and consider alternative models. If a different one looks more promising, put it in place with the relaunch of the website.
Details: After soliciting feedback from multiple stakeholders, we are considering changing our current pledge model. We would like to provide lower barriers to entry to join the REG community, with our existing pledge being the highest form of commitment. We also believe our current pledge model has drawbacks for professional poker players. Poker often provides an irregular income, meaning many of our supporters aren’t able to donate consistently.
(Co-)Host a charity poker tournament
Target: Host at least one charity tournament in 2017, or have very concrete plans worked out together with a partner for a tournament happening in 2018.
Details: Charity tournaments are traditional fundraising tools for charitable initiatives in poker. If set up well, they offer a recurring source of donations and are more easily scalable than individual fundraising. In order to establish a regular event, we plan to focus on partnerships with institutions in the poker industry. We currently have several possible routes to co-hosting a tournament, and we’re in touch with a number of major players in the poker industry.
Establish REG as a viable corporate social responsibility partner
Target: Have two corporate partnerships with important players in a given industry (poker, or other) by the end of 2017.
Details: REG is very well-positioned to become a CSR partner for major corporate stakeholders in poker and other industries; we have the right contacts, reputation, and expertise. We are currently exploring potential partnerships with a few corporate stakeholders.
Increase our presence at major tournaments
Target: Be present at at least one European Poker Tour stop in 2017.
Details: We plan to increase our presence at major live tournaments this year, which we neglected in 2016. Personal connections have proven a major factor in our past successes, so we believe that fostering more of them in 2017 will help us generate more donations and collaboration leads.
Conduct online fundraising campaigns
Target: Conduct at least one online campaign in 2017, and evaluate the potential of such campaigns in more detail.
Details: Campaigns based around online poker, such as our #SCOOP4CHARITY campaign in 2016, offer a scalable way to generate donations. We will repeat our #SCOOP4CHARITY fundraiser in 2017, and we believe we can improve upon our results by incorporating what we learned last year. Similar exploratory campaigns in eSports are also a possibility.
Support donation matching challenges
Target: Support and/or host at least 3 matching challenges.
Details: Matching challenges were critical to our fundraising success last year, and we’d like to encourage similar efforts in 2017. Matching challenges are particularly effective because of their scalability and track-record of success. In addition, they often allow us to expand our network through the people participating in the challenge.
Our activities in other industries are exploratory, so we have opted to not set concrete objectives for our non-poker outreach. We still think this outreach is valuable, and should the right circumstances arise, we might opt to pursue both finance and eSports in a greater capacity.
Explore our options in the financial industry
Details: In 2016, we learned that gaining contacts in the financial industry was more difficult than we thought. We plan on trying to hold talks at major financial firms, as we feel they allow for a broader point of entry. We have a few concrete leads we’re pursuing to make this happen.
Explore the eSports industry
Details: We have a few highly promising leads we would like to pursue within eSports. We hope that these leads will allow us to enter into eSports with a campaign or event. We plan to assess possible models and our chances of success in eSports, as well as consult industry experts to gain a stronger entry strategy.
Redesign our website
Target: Launch an improved version of our website in the first half of 2017.
Details: Our re-design will streamline the user experience and simplify our donation process. We are currently working on a re-designed website with the help Effective Altruism Foundation.
Increase external transparency
Target: Publish more reports on our processes, goals, and strategy.
Details: We have received some feedback from members of the EA community for not being as transparent about our strategic planning process as we could be. We agree, and we intend to communicate our plans and the reasoning for strategic decisions more proactively to receive valuable inputs from the community. This post and our year in review are our first steps in this direction.
Improve our donor management system
Target: Implement a new donor management system by the end of the year.
Details: Due to REG’s growth, we have reached the limits of our current donation management system. We aim to migrate to a new system that can incorporate tighter feedback loops and better evaluation of distinct activities. We are building this new system in-house (with EAF’s operations team), and we believe the additional data it can provide will help us make better decisions.
Expand our tax deductibility status
Target: Enable tax deductible donations for UK donors.
Details: Having tax deductibility status in as many countries as possible is critical for any fundraising organization. REG donors can currently make tax deductible donations from the US (through our partner organization GiveWell), Switzerland, the Netherlands, and Germany (through REG’s parent organization EAF). The most important country we (through EAF) plan to gain tax deductibility status in is the United Kingdom, as many professional poker players reside in the London area.