Fact: Transparency Equals Higher Donations, How a gaming marathon event increases revenue

The Games Auction for Extra Life is a gaming marathon and auction. This is a unique event and auction fundraiser founded by George Jaros of GJJ Games. George is a board game designer and blogger with a passion for philanthropy. By pairing these passions, George has single handedly raised over $15,000 for Children's Miracle Network Hospitals!

GJJ Games collects board game donations and auctions them off. The auction runs simultaneous to a 24-hour gaming event that is held at a local gaming store, There's Fun In Store in DeKalb, Illinois. The marathon is full of activities, incentives, raffles and of course gaming. The 2022 event can be viewed by clicking this link.

The growth of the event is attributed to George’s relentless efforts to maintain relationships throughout the year. It is all visible on the auction and event website.

The auction and gaming marathon grow each year, bringing more attention and more funds raised. Here are a few key accelerators to the success:

  • Transparency in asking for auction donations
  • Transparency in where raised funds go
  • Promoting to a wide community, both locally and online
  • Donation jars for loose change

1. Transparency in auction donations

This event is a gaming marathon and auction and many game donations are made. Some directly from the local gaming community, some directly from game designers and publishers, and still others from retail establishments. Many of the items have 100% of their final bid amount go to support Children's Miracle Network Hospitals. Every penny of the final bid on those games goes directly to support sick kids! Some items on this site donated by the local community will have 50% or 20% donated to charity, depending on how much store credit the community member chooses to receive. There's Fun In Store generously offers donors an opportunity to earn some store credit so they can refill some of the empty space on their game shelves with new games.

Each auction item clearly states the give back level with an image badge to illustrate and provide additional transparency. GJJ Games requests and receives donations in a few forms. Cash donations, raffle sales, donations of games for the auction, and donations of games for sale.

  • 100% to Charity, - Everything earned will go to charity. No store credit is given at this level. All Sponsor donations have 100% raised go to charity, whether the items are new or used.
  • 50% to Charity, 50% Store Credit - Local donors can split the amount raised 50/50 with the charity. We wanted to give people the best opportunity to help the charity while still earning a bit for some new games themselves!
  • 20% to Charity, 100% Store Credit - This is the traditional local donation model the auction has provided since 2015. 20% goes to charity and the donor earns 100% of the selling price in store credit. But wait, that's 120% you say? There's Fun In Store generously covers the 20% that goes to charity, using their own profit to give donors the 100% in store credit.

Next to each auction item there is an image indicating how much goes back to the charity. In addition, the 100% Charity items are tagged and can be viewed separately.

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Each item in the auction will be identified by one of these three logos, so you know just how much money each item is raising for charity! GJJ Games goes on to share the financial breakdown of the expenses he incurs in running the gaming marathon in the FAQ section on the website.

2. Transparency in Fundraising

GJJ Games raises funds exclusively for The Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals. Here again it is very clear where the funds are going and breakdown of how each dollar is utilized.

Right on the auction page you will see text with links that look like this.

This auction raises money for Children's Miracle Network Hospitals through a program called Extra Life. Extra Life is gamers doing what they do best to help sick and injured children at their chosen Children’s Miracle Network Hospital. In our case it is Anne & Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital in Chicago, Illinois.

The money raised through Extra Life will go directly to Anne & Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital as ‘unrestricted funds’. This means that the hospital decides where and how to spend the money to ensure the dollars you raise make the biggest impact in the lives of the kids they treat. CMN hospitals treat every patient that comes through their doors, regardless of the family's ability to pay. Their mission is to save and improve the lives of as many children as possible and the funds you raise make it possible for the hospitals to do that!

So, how much of the funds raised in this auction go to support sick kids? The answer is as much as possible!
Since 2015 we've raised over $15000 for sick kids!

Since 2015 we've raised over $15000 for sick kids!

  • 2015 - $200 (estimated)
  • 2016 - $427 ($132 in the auction)
  • 2017 - $528 ($200 in the auction)
  • 2018 - $890 ($450 in the auction)
  • 2019 - $3200 ($1172.40 in the auction)
  • 2020 - $3950 ($3392.70 in the auction)
  • 2021 - $6343 ($5108.32 in the auction)
  • 2022 - ????

Infographics are another way GJJ Games tell the philanthropy story. Here are some examples. “Why do we need your Support?” and “Impact Dollar” are prominently placed on the auction website.

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3. Promoting of the event

This event could not happen without the support of the gaming community. Sponsors and donors are sought and promoted on the event website. The gaming marathon event itself is promoted through word of mouth, social media and in-store promotions.

  • Local Businesses sponsor the event by providing one or more of the following:
  • Providing donations for our Charity Auction or Raffle, especially donations related to tabletop gaming, pop culture, or your business.
  • Support for the event attendees by providing food, snacks, drinks, etc.
  • Monetary donations of course are also encouraged.

Events & Demos go for a full 24 hours.

  • 24 Hour Incentives - There will be incentives for anyone who lasts a full 24 hours!
  • The Great Meeple Race - Will return with awesome prizes and fun events!
  • Raffle - We will have prizes and gift certificates to raffle off. All proceeds go to Extra Life!
    Game Demos - Come learn some awesome new games! Events for Cartographers Heroes, Tenpenny Parks, Cape May, and more!
  • Kickstarter & Prototype Previews - Come take a look at some games before you can buy them! Prototypes from GJJ Games and maybe other designers & publishers!
  • D&D One-Shot Campaigns - We will have one or more one-shot campaigns being run by our attendees.

4. Donation Jars

Throughout the year donation jars are placed near cash registers at the gaming store and a few other local retail locations. Passersby can drop loose change into the jars, and there is a sign stating that all cash is collected and donated to the Children's Miracle Network Hospitals. When George first placed these loose change jars they collected about $15-$20 a month. When implementing the transparency and infographics used on the auction and event website the income from the donation jars accelerated to an average of $60 per MONTH. So the income went from about $200 a year to over $700 a year! One small adjustment led to one big shift in donations.

George donates hundreds of hours of his time. In doing so he is able to secure an incredible amount of game donations. There is literally something for everyone. Board games, expansion packs, accessories, apparel, puzzles, toys, books, and ebooks are all available. His donation of time includes collecting donations, promoting and running the marathon, shipping and fulfilling the post-auction winning items, and more.


GJJGames is George J Jaros Games. George is a board game player and designer from DeKalb, Illinois. GJJ Games blog can be found at http://gjjgames.blogspot.com/