Jeff Burrell’s vision behind the Riot Games Social Impact Fund and how it ‘mobilises gamers’

Riot Games has made giving back easier than ever by combining its fundraising initiative with players around the world. The Social Impact Fund, Riot’s philanthropic venture that launched in 2019, has raised millions for 400 unique organizations in 25 countries and distributed more than $23 million in grants.

Riot’s Social Impact Fund gives players the opportunity to create change simply by purchasing in-game cosmetics. Cosmetics depend on the game and can be anything from a battle pass or a specific character skin. In 2021, the Social Impact Fund organized two important charity events in VALORANT, league Of Legends Rift Savage, Y team fight tactics: The Give Back Bundle and Sentinels of Light fundraiser, which raised a combined $11.3 million.

The developer is using its global reach to give back to the community and invite fans to do the same. Whether through grants, monetary donations, or charity work, the Social Impact Fund is constantly giving back to those in need and opening the door for players to show their support.

“As a global company, it’s important that we take a global approach to help address some of the most pressing issues in our communities,” said Senior Director Jeff Burrell. “The structure of the Social Impact Fund allows Riot to mobilize our players around the world to tackle the issues that matter most to them.”

Millions of people log in each year to play Riot’s expansive slate of titles. From a first person shooter to VALORANT to an action-packed MOBA in League, there is something for everyone to enjoy among the many titles from the developer. While the Social Impact Fund is a separate entity from the publishing side of Riot, the fund is structured in a way that ensures funds are used to make a positive impact on education, citizenship, opportunity, and sustainability.

If a player is purchasing a weapon skin on VALORANT or one of the many champion skins in League, there is endless opportunity to bring attention to causes that help others. Burrell detailed the thematic bridge between the cosmetics and the fundraisers they are supporting, including the Star Guardians’ push to save the galaxy and the Sentinels of Lights’ ongoing battle to eradicate evil.

The Give Back Bundle was one of the top two charity events of 2021 and was a collection of some of the most popular. VALORANT weapon skins that players could buy and “give back” to the community. The package included four skins, and 50 percent of the profits from the skins and 100 percent of the profits from the accessories went directly to the Social Impact Fund. This pack was active from June 22 to July 8, 2021 and raised $5.5 million for charity.

The Sentinels of Light fundraiser raised another $5.8 million in a collaboration between League, Wild Rift and Teamfight Tactics which was attended by almost 15 million players. The funds were distributed among 30 different charities around the world, including the Blue Dragon Children’s Foundation, the Metropolitan Organization to Counter Sexual Assault, the Table Food Community Center and more.

Mask-based fundraisers typically feature a mask to represent a cause. Riot’s most recent adventure focused on the Star Guardians event with Taliyah receiving the featured skin. The team chose Star Guardian Tailyah due to her lack of skins, according to Burrell. Taliyah only had three skins before the release of Star Guardian: Pool Party, Samsung Galaxy, and Freljord. The team felt it was important to pick a champion and skin that players would be excited about.

Burrell said the team wants the masks to have layered meanings. The Star Guardians theme features a group of champions trying to protect the galaxy, something that aligns with Riot’s goals in her charity picks. This same theme was also present when Riot chose the Sentinels of Light event to be a part of the charity last year. Heroes coming together to overcome the darkness and save humanity mean so much more when those heroes not only save the virtual world, but the literal one as well.

“When we were looking at this year’s roadmap, we looked at Star Guardians and we got really excited because we thought this would be another great opportunity to engage players in that other level of social impact and make a difference in communities,” Burrell said. .

“The larger narrative of Star Guardians is to protect the galaxy and all that, but there’s also a very human component to it, what they’re going through and how they have to fight their own demons.”

However, there is more to the Social Impact Fund than just cosmetics.

In 2021, Riot introduced its first VALORANT charity events organized by Offline TV. The events raised $88,000 for charities including the Children Foundation, Stop AAPI Hate, St. Jude, The ACLU Foundation and Rise Above the Disorder.

While Burrell did not provide specific details about upcoming collaborations between the Social Impact Fund and VALORANT, shared the success of the Offline TV fundraiser and his excitement for the coming months.

“We made the first VALORANT fundraiser last year and it was phenomenal,” Burrell said.

“It was the first time we were able to include a whole new set of players, they may not necessarily be familiar with League of Legends, but they are like intense fans of technical shooters. We were also able to engage them in these kinds of activities, I would love to continue exploring that.”

The success of charity broadcasts for VALORANT and fundraisers for League of Legends shows what Riot is capable of achieving. Each year, the Social Impact Fund has come up with new ways to bring the community together and excite gamers with new opportunities to give back.

As the pool grows, so will the chances to connect through Riot titles.

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