Giving Games goes to the University of Technology Sydney

Giving Games goes to the University of Technology Sydney

Team members of The Life You Can Save’s Giving Games project met accounting lecturer Nicole Sutton and her teaching team at the University of Technology Sydney for a Giving Games workshop on the 3rd-5th December 2018.

Inspired by the Giving Games’ experiential philanthropy format, where a sponsor supplies a communal pool of money for participants to donate to pre-selected charities, Nicole and her team have developed a Giving Game which simultaneously teaches students about High Impact Philanthropy and the practical application of core accounting concepts.

This post will provide an overview of the Giving Games project, the use case developed by Nicole, key workshop outcomes, and our plans for the future development of this program.

What are Giving Games?

Giving Games have been applied in a wide variety of use cases since the first Giving Game was held with a Student a capella Group at Princeton in 2012. Giving Games have now been run with over 13,000 participants in 25 countries, spanning all continents other than Antarctica, and with a variety of objectives ranging from serving as a teaching aid to informing the execution of businesses’ Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) obligations in India.

During a Giving Game, a facilitator introduces two to four charities for participants to consider. Ordinarily, this takes the form of a preliminary vote where participants make an initial choice based on short fundraising pitches. The facilitator then provides further information on the impact of the non-profits, the evidence supporting their work, and the program’s potential challenges and opportunities. Participants divide into groups and discuss which charity should be awarded the funds which are ordinarily provided by The Life You Can Save or an external sponsor. This process demonstrates the value of informed, impactful and intentional giving and the role that charity evaluators can play in guiding participants on their High Impact Philanthropy journeys.     

A core component of the success of Giving Games is their adaptability to meet a variety of objectives and be tailored to the interests of different audiences. Each aspect of the program can be easily customised, which results in many types of Giving Games. Two examples are charity elections, developed by an educator in Minnesota, in which a class votes on a charity following a week of related classroom activities, and speed Giving Games which allow a faster exposure to Effective Giving concepts and are frequently used at student outreach events at universities around the world.

The University of Technology Sydney Model

The University of Technology Sydney Model model developed by Nicole and her team directly applies Giving Games to teach decision-making concepts and techniques, a core component in the accounting curriculum of most university business degrees. Nicole incorporates themes around risk, uncertainty, and opportunity cost, and encourages students to practice the application of rational decision-making concepts and techniques to make an “optimal” donation choice.

The University of Technology Sydney Giving Game has been designed for teaching staff to efficiently set up and run within a single 60-90 minute class and indicates how Giving Games can be used as a participatory learning activity in a variety of subjects. In 2018, the University of Technology Sydney successfully trialed this activity with a small group of undergraduate students, developed a full set of learning and instructor support materials and conducted an evaluation of the trial. In 2019, they will implement the activity across an entire cohort of 400 undergraduate accounting students in 10 seminar groups at the University of Technology Sydney Business School. The developed materials will be shared by The Life You Can Save and University of Technology Sydney in the next quarter.      

Key Workshop Outcomes

During the Giving Games Workshop in Sydney, Kathryn Mecrow-Flynn and Rickard Vikstrom from The Life You Can Save, Catherine Lowe from Rethink Charity, and Nicole Sutton and her team discussed how The Life You Can Save can best support the work of UTS. The overarching question was how to create a high-quality “plug and play” Giving Game and accompanying teaching materials that could be tailored to fit classroom learning objectives. Nicole’s teaching staff team participated in this workshop, and gained hands-on experience of both the “UTS model” and The Life You Can Save’s “Standard Giving Game” materials. Feedback from the staff emphasized how the UTS Giving Game could fit well into a participatory learning environment, encouraging critical thought and application of accountancy principles to real-life decisions. Underlying the lesson plans were the commitment of The Life You Can Save and UTS to design an innovative, sustainable and scalable approach to teaching decision-making techniques and concepts that creates an inspiring, engaging, reflective learning experience for accounting students that exposes them to pathways to impactful career opportunities.

How can you help?

The Life You Can Save is excited to partner with Nicole and UTS in the launch and scale of UTS’s innovative classroom Giving Games model. As part of the organization’s long-term strategy of meaningfully shaping the philanthropic ecosystem, we are delighted to support the scale and systematisation of Giving Games as a cost-effective and impactful form of experimental philanthropy education.

We would be delighted to hear from educators at all levels who may be interested in incorporating Giving Games in their activities or further developing tools and materials for this effort. Examples of such opportunities include the potential benefits of further developing an online teaching platform to enhance and emphasize the voting experiences of students; methods to track impact over time through systematic follow-up, including survey administration; and the creation of online moderated communities which would allow students a platform to delve into High Impact Philanthropy outside of the classroom.

In the next quarter, The Life You Can Save will assist in the release of the classroom materials prepared by Nicole. Please get in touch with Kathryn Mecrow-Flynn with any questions at

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About the author:

Giving Games

Giving Games is a project of The Life You Can Save focused upon seeding High Impact Philanthropy through experiential philanthropy education.

The views expressed in blog posts are those of the author, and not necessarily those of Peter Singer or The Life You Can Save.