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Charities are cashing in on Pokémon GO

This opinion piece is over 6 years old

Rebecca Curtis-Moss has found Scottish charities slow to spot the benefits of Pokémon GO with a few notable exceptions

Originally, this blog was going to be about how Scottish charities are setting the bar high by utilising the latest internet craze to hit the UK, Pokémon GO. Instead, it’s turned into a chronicle of woefully missed opportunities.

Firstly, it’s worth explaining what Pokémon GO is. Pokémon GO is a location-based augmented reality mobile game. Players use their smartphone screens to search for virtual Pokémon in public spaces, then capture characters like Charizard, Squirtle and Pikachu. Once players have reached level 5, they pit their Pokémon against other players’ collections, winning valuable new characters and claiming virtual turf.

Rebecca Curtis-Moss
Rebecca Curtis-Moss

As I started trawling the internet for good charity newsjacking examples, time and time again, you know what I came across? Nothing. Nada. Zilch. Where were the Scottish walking charities? Those dealing with digital inclusion; mental health; physical health; young people; the outdoors; heritage and museums or the arts? Those who rely on income from major walking fundraising events?

I came across quite a few Scottish charities that were lucky enough to have Pokéstops at their venue, but other than a couple of ingenuous charity shops setting up lures (to lure Pokémon, and therefore players, to that location), and the suggestion from Redditusers that children’s hospitals should be made into Pokémon battlegrounds known as gyms (thus helping sick kids play from their beds), I saw very few organisations really make the most out of this.

In all, I was really surprised to find so few charities getting involved.

I did, however, find a couple of needles in the haystack.

National Trust for Scotland used the game as an opportunity to promote its properties.

As did Glasgow Science Centre.

At Edinburgh Zoo, there are Pokemon in the penguin enclosure!

Edinburgh Fringe used the app to promote its merchandise.

Whilst, Euans Guide promoted its excellent #RedCordCard campaign.

Could charity caution be down to NSPCC’s statement, urging Nintendo to delay the UK launch of the game, due to fears over child safety? Perhaps for other charities dealing with young people, yes. But then again, that’s why Young Scot have been issuing tips on Snapchat about how to stay safe while trying to catch ’em all.

So, Scottish charities: grab this new trend by the Pokéballs!


Have I missed any great examples? If so, comment below!

Rebecca Curtis-Moss is communications, engagement and events coordinator at the Euan MacDonald Centre for MND Research. This blog first appeared on on 17th of July 2016.



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Callum Ogden
over 6 years ago
Citizens Advice Edinburgh have been advising local Pokemon on issues related to human rights and deprivation of liberty in line with ECHR responsibilities: