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Gaming for a good cause — charities court millennials online

Destiny from Activision
Source: Activision
Destiny from Activision

The top players of "Destiny" are using their love of the hit Activision Blizzard video game to raise money for St. Jude Children's Research Hospital.

It's the latest example of how the philanthropic landscape is changing to attract millennials and bring in new donations.

A weeklong charitable stream on Twitch, the video game viewing platform purchased by Amazon, ends Thursday at noon. As of Wednesday evening, the effort had raised more than $317,000 of its $350,000 goal.

"Millennials get a bad wrap but I think this charity event will prove that even those who can only give a dollar, will," coordinator Kevin Murray, aka KMagic101 on Twitch, told CNBC.

The stream, which has been going 24 hours per day since Aug. 18, features some of the biggest Twitch streamers in the "Destiny" community. Fans can watch the game being played and click the donate button.

The stream is part of the lead up to Saturday's "Destiny Community Con" in Tampa, Florida, a meetup of players and fans of the game. "Destiny" is a first-person shooter game developed for Activision by Bungie, the creators of another adventure game, "Halo."

Murray, who's coordinating the charity stream and the conference, said the "Destiny" community is unlike any other.

"As gamers, we've never seen anything like it," he said. "The amount of respect and love in the community is mind-blowing. Lives have been changed and will continue to be changed because of it. Friendships, careers, marriages, et cetera. It's all happened because of this game and this community."

According to the 2015 Millennial Impact Report, 84 percent of millennials made charitable donations the prior year. Of that number, one-third donated through an online giving platform.

"Things like student loans and college expenses leave young people with vast amounts of debt before they even get out of school. But when we see messages like, 'Here's $5 for the kids. I'm going to skip my cup of coffee tomorrow,' shows that targeting that demographic for charitable donations is effective because that money adds up," Murray said.

While this is not the first charity stream to show up on Twitch or other streaming services, it's by far one the largest. St. Jude said the "Destiny" stream set a new record for the most donations ever by a gaming community. The previous record was about $250,000.

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