With Coins for Change, Disney online game Club Penguin is leveraging the enthusiasm of its young fans to do good all over the world. For the seventh consecutive year, players are encouraged to donate their virtual coins toward the funding of ten different real-world projects, which will then receive a combined $1 million USD donation from Club Penguin. We spoke to Disney Interactive’s Corporate Citizenship Program Director Nicole Rustad about the initiative, which is currently in progress right now.
Throughout their time online in Club Penguin, kids earn virtual coins playing games and interacting with each other that can then be used as currency within that virtual play space. These coins are typically used to outfit their penguin avatar with new clothes or accessories, or to collect items that decorate their personal in-game igloo. However, Coins for Change presents the option for these coins to be given towards the collective goal of funding a number of great projects, including:
- Toys and warm coats for kids in the United States
- A Clean water project for a community in Ecuador
- Club Penguin hospital packages for kids around the world
- Penguin nesting grounds in Argentina
- Andean Cat and Golden Woolly Monkey habitat protection in Peru, Argentina, Chile and Bolivia.
- The construction of an elementary school and education support programs for women and children in Africa
- Painted dog and lion habitat protection
- Protected areas for the snow leopard and saiga antelope
- Ten new libraries in Ethiopia and five reading spaces for kids in India
- New hospital wing to keep babies and mothers healthy in Malawi
“All of the projects that we’re supporting go through a rigorous vetting process,” Nicole told us. “For us, it’s really all about ensuring that all kids have a safe place to play, learn, live, and grow.” The team focuses on providing communities with services from clean water to educational facilities like schools and libraries. They also look at ways in which they can ensure kids have a safe place to play and that local flora and fauna are protected around the world “We look for organizations that are really about giving a hand up,” Nicole pointed out. When they bring assistance to a community, they want it to be a lasting change, not a one-time donation.
They are also deeply focused on presenting a wide enough range of projects that their audience, who are donating their own personal virtual currency, can contribute to something that speaks to them. “We are representing our players, and the kids really care about these projects, so we want to make sure they’re excellent,” said Nicole. “What we’ve seen in Club Penguin is that the kids are super excited about it. They’re totally pumped! It’s really heartwarming to see their comments, see what they’re saying, and see how excited they really are about coming together to do this.”
As of our conversation with Nicole, the kids’ donations via Coins for Change had already done a great amount of good, including unlocking 1,000 toys for Toys for Tots, 1,000 coats for kids in need in the United States, a sponsorship of One Warm Coat, saving a penguin nesting ground for real-world penguins in Argentina, and ten school libraries in under-resourced communities in Ethiopia. Take a look at this graphic for what is to come, and then find some photos of the Club Penguin players’ philanthropy in action: