Greetings & Salutations!
I hope the community can help address the following challenges:
As volunteers from a Recreation Therapy background, we help people achieve their educational and therapeutic goals through the intentional use of role-playing games (RPG) and music. We work with toddlers, youth, and adults of all ages, to help improve the quality of their lives. We also work with many populations with specific challenges, including: Autism spectrum, brain injury, at-risk youth, and many others.
While I received some some local and regional television news coverage on the trailer in October:
Since I am not anyone of note and lack the fame that others are able to use to bring a large following, and didn’t have much of a following previously, our Patreon campaign has been pretty flat.
Problem #1: Not much of a following to begin with, though providing free services to many. A portion of this is because with these special populations being protected (for good reason), it is very difficult to get any releases for photos, videos, audio, release of interviews/information, etc.
Problem #2: When we do get coverage, while we get many verbal kudos, for some reason these are NOT translating into financial support.
So, I am hoping members in the community here might be able to take a look at what we’re doing, and maybe help us try to improve the efficacy of our campaign?
My name is Hawke Robinson, and I am the creator of The Wheelchair Friendly RPG Trailer ( http://www.rpgtrailer.com ), and founder of The RPG Research Project ( http://www.rpgresearch.com ). I am registered with the Washington State Department of Health as a Recreational Therapist. Since 2004 I have been, from the Therapeutic Recreation perspective, researching the effects of all forms of role-playing games (tabletop, live-action (LARP), solo books/modules, and computer-based), and their potential uses for participants to achieve therapeutic and educational goals. I have been involved with RPGs since 1979. I especially work with a lot of populations from a wide range of diagnoses:
- Autism spectrum
- Brain injury (stroke, TBI, etc.)
- Muscular Dystrophy (MD)
- At-risk/troubled/incarcerated youth
- Substance dependency transition
- Cerebral Palsy (CP)
- Mental health
- And many others
Until this year, I provided all these services alone, or working with teams at their facilities.
This year I had a number of volunteers join to help, there are currently 5 of us.
Until recently, everything has been 100% self-funded, out of pocket, including the $40,000 USD mobile facility. During the first 4 years on Patreon, I only acquired 4 patrons. We did recently get an uptick of 7 more, but that has stopped (unknown what caused it, we think Zombie Orpheus Entertainment helped).
My apologies if the rest of this is TLDR for folks, but hopefully providing the full picture will be helpful…
I have been performing the aforementioned services throughout the Northwest of the U.S., and some testing via Internet services throughout the world as well. I hope, over time, to eventually cover North America (with others helping of course), though I am primarily based in Washington State, Idaho, and Oregon right now. I live in Spokane, WA (eastern border of WA).
I am originally from California and began using RPGs around 1979. Then I began with creating and teaching an RPG Education program in 1985, in Utah, at a school for gifted and talented children (also a student there at the time), and then focused on the therapeutic possibilities in 2004. I have been creating and implementing program plans for various populations since, further refining the programs based on the research.
The RPG Research Project website is also a repository of research information from around the world for everyone to share, so that there is less reinventing of the wheel, and people stop working in isolated silos, so we can all improve how we use RPGs to help others.
Last year, to solve many issues that came up during research and program delivery over the years, I bought, out my own pocket, a $40k mobile facility (RV Toy Hauler Trailer) dubbed The RPG Trailer, that increases the reach of the research and programs delivery to people in un-served or under-served locations, and solve many other logistical issues as elaborated upon here: http://www.rpgtrailer.com/faqs
The current trailer is just a prototype for a a more ideal trailer I wish to build. There is only one (affordable) company in the USA that specializes in Wheelchair accessible RVs, based in Arizona. They are a small company. Washington state only allows RVs and trailers from large companies that are on their “approved list” to be on the state highways. For this manufacturer to get on the list, each floor plan must be individually approved by the state’s Labor & Industries division (thousands of dollars and many months of delays). This means the more ideal trailer build will have to go through a lot of Washington State red tape to be brought into the state, which adds thousands of dollars in bureaucratic fees, and about 18+ months of delays when ready to begin the process.
I have a GoFundMe ( http://www.gofundme.com/rpgtrailer ) trying to raise enough for the down-payment toward the custom-built trailer. The goal is $6,500, which will cover the down payment to get the build started, and some of the transportation costs. We have raised about $1,000 so far. Meanwhile I am using this prototype as best I can, and slowly making the modifications that I can afford to make.
The prototype can seat 2-3 people in wheelchairs, but the bathroom and side door are not wheelchair accessible. The ideal custom-built version will seat 6-8+ in wheelchairs, and will have fully wheelchair friendly bathroom, side door, etc.
My hopes in having a Patreon page, was that folks would be interested in helping our charitable efforts (though I have not been able to afford to form a 501©3), to help cover the costs of driving the trailer around to keep providing these free services to populations with special needs, help cover research Institutional Review Board (IRB) fees, and other expenses in the hopes of growing the geographical reach, breadth, and depth, of the research efforts and the charitable program delivery.
Everything I have done so far has been out of my own pocket and only this year have I taken on a team of volunteers/trainees to train in the hopes of growing the capacity to help others
After 4 years we only had 4 Patrons, then briefly we had a “spike” of 7 others join, but then has been quiet again.
The gofundme of several years has been quiet for quite some time as well, and has plateaued around 1/6th of our goal for the down payment.
I have been self-hosting/managing the websites for these projects since 2004, and I have been on all social media about these projects since as well. We provide podcasts, video broadcasts, etc.
Rewards include early access to research papers, major announcements like the permissions we received from Wizards of the Coast, podcasts, anecdotal stories, live interactive broadcast, gaming sessions, etc.
And while people state they think what we are doing is great, it has been difficult to convert the small following we do have, into paying Patreon supporters.
The funds of my early retirement from my tech years long ago ( http://www.hawkenterprising.com ) are dwindling, so unless I can find more support, instead of being able to grow what we’re doing, I will have to cut back (though I won’t stop, it will just be at a reduced capacity, the trailer at least made it more affordable to continue further).
I really hope we don’t have to do that. This year I started taking on some occasional short tech contracts to try to re-infuse my cash reserves to keep supporting our efforts, but that of course takes away from the time I have for our primary goals in helping others.
So, any suggestions to help improve things are greatly appreciated.
Here is a summary of the sites:
I look forward to any guidance, suggestions, support possible from the community.