Fantasy App helps raise money

Friday, September 14, 2018

DraftMates app aims to reinvent the way athletes raise money for charity by encouraging them to trade black-tie charity dinners and golf tournaments for fantasy sports.

DraftMates is a mobile fantasy sports experience that dedicates 85% of its contests’ entry fees to registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations, such as the American Cancer Society or Wounded Warrior Project. It enables fans to form smaller groups to play with their friends for bragging rights (the free no-fee version of the app) or to pay entry fees to raise money for charity.

The app also has the ability to launch public contests, where pro-athletes can use DraftMates as a fundraising platform for the causes they care about and nonprofits can increase donations through a fantasy sports experience. 

The app, which launched with the official kickoff of the 2018-19 NFL season, hosts weekly contests, where every entry counts as a single lineup based on all Sunday and Monday night games. DraftMates plans to expand to all major sports within the next year, launching basketball contests when the NBA season kicks off, to be followed by PGA Golf and MLB this spring.

DraftMates founder and CEO Matt Golis has set a lofty goal of raising “hundreds of millions of dollars” for charity organizations over the next few years as the service gains traction. He compared it less to other fantasy sports apps and more to a gamified GoFundMe, where people aren’t just donating to a cause but are paying to participate in a fun competition that then goes to support a cause.

“When playing for cash on a lot of daily fantasy sports sites, you’re losing 80% of the time – and you’re playing with people you don’t know. It’s a clunky experience that’s really geared toward the people playing for high stakes, not the casual sports fan who wants to put in a lineup say once a week and see how it does,” said Golis. “We wanted to make an experience so you could play with your friends. And what it’s evolved into is something much more: a nonprofit fundraising platform. We thought, ‘wouldn’t it be cool if each player could pick which nonprofit they wanted to support?’”

While anyone can choose which charity they wish to donate their winnings to, DraftMates has a verification process in place to ensure that each is a legitimate charity.

Looking ahead, the company is betting that the biggest areas of its business end up being the 501(c)(3)s and celebrities who use the platform to crowdsource donations through play.

Golis said the company is seeing interest from “pretty big national nonprofit organizations,” who are looking for a way to engage with millennial-and-younger donors who are less likely to hit a “donate now” button on websites and would be more willing to exchange their money for a game they’d want to play regardless of whether it went to a good cause.

“We’re vetting the cause and bringing this gamification of fantasy sports to drive engagement with the actual nonprofits themselves,” said Golis.

As for the pro athletes who might want to engage with foundations and nonprofits in the offseason, Golis sees opportunity for them to launch public contests where they can compete against some of their own fans while simultaneously raising money for charity. 

The gamified mobile experience might attract more younger donors than might an expensive golf tournament or black tie dinner, said Golis. And while the entry fee will likely be far more affordable than a ticket to a golf tournament, the hope is that they’d be able to make up for the loss in volume.