Something a little out of the ordinary happened recently. While going about our normal business, we saw that ProLiteracy was tagged in a post on Twitter, and that tweet was being shared, liked, and commented on at a pretty impressive rate. We took notice. Who was @ScrySociety and why had they tagged us?
It turns out, Scry Society, run by Nick Galvin, holds a streaming Dungeons & Dragons (D&D) event each month to benefit a charity. Last month, the group of players had picked ProLiteracy from the list of charities on Tiltify, and he had tagged us in promoting the event.
This was fantastic. Based on the online engagement in the weeks leading up to the event, the D&D community was obviously enthusiastic. And, because advocacy is central to our mission, we seized this unexpected opportunity to raise awareness about the adult literacy cause among a new group that seemed genuinely interested.
ProLiteracy’s social media coordinator reached out to Galvin to learn more about his group and how it chose ProLiteracy for last month’s charity stream, which exceeded its goal and raised over $600.
I’m a husband, dad, life-time tabletop roleplaying game (TTRPG) enthusiast, and founder of Scry Society. I'm also the community manager for Shard Tabletop, a virtual tabletop used to play D&D remotely. In my "real life," I'm a policy analyst!
Scry Society is a TTRPG-variety streaming channel and content publisher. Once a month, we play Dungeons and Dragons adventure "one-shots," which we livestream on Twitch. Each month, we pick a new charity to raise money for through Tiltify. Donors can not only support the charity of choice that month, but also affect the game! The cast members are also different each month, and are from all over the TTRPG community.
One important goal of mine has been to feature both a diverse cast, as well as adventures from diverse content creators. In any given month, we might have one player from California, one from Florida, and another from Australia! We also do prize giveaways in every stream, as a way to give back to the community that has shown us so much support.
Each month you raise money for a different charity. When did you start holding charity streams, and what are some of the charities you have raised money for?
Each month I try to choose a charity that aligns with my own personal values, and those of the [participating] players that month. We also consider current events and ongoing trends or [nationally recognized] months. For example, for Pride Month, we picked The Trevor Project, given their advocacy with LGBTQ+ community. This month, we wanted to find a charity that focused on dyslexia and other literacy-related issues. A quick search on Google and Tiltify led us to ProLiteracy! We reviewed the mission, vision, and values and agreed as a team it was the right choice this month.
Adult literacy and dyslexia go hand in hand. I'm aware that one of the participating players (Shannon) is training to become an academic language therapist, with a specialty in dyslexia. Can she weigh in on why she wanted to choose ProLiteracy as this month’s charity or on raising awareness about dyslexia in general?
Shannon: One in five people have dyslexia. It's very common, and many people don't receive a diagnosis until later in life. The more aware we are about dyslexia and its warning signs, the earlier we can give people the supports they need to be successful!
How does the monthly charity stream work? Do people donate throughout the event or before the event?
Each month, we set up a Tiltify campaign a few days prior to the event, usually with a modest goal of around $250. We then add donation incentives that allow donors to affect the game. For example, donating $5 would allow you to grant one of the players a chance to reroll a particularly low roll, while donating $50 could give them a magical, flaming sword.
This all happens live on stream, and the players are just as surprised as the audience by the results. This leads to a fun, dynamic stream, where the players' improvisational skills can really shine.
Has there ever been a charity you raised money for that raised your awareness about a cause you previously knew nothing about?
ProLiteracy's website absolutely raised my awareness about adult literacy rates. Learning that 40+ million adults in America can't read or write at above a third-grade reading level really put into perspective how important the mission of ProLiteracy is. As the husband of a former elementary school teacher, I know how important it is to establish reading skills at a young age, and how difficult it can be to catch up later on in life.
Can you share something about your group or about the Dungeons & Dragons community that might surprise people?
I think a lot of people still have a perception of D&D as being played in dark basements by people who otherwise have very little social engagement. While there certainly are folks out there that may choose to play in their basement, I have met literally hundreds of people through the D&D community who are bright, vibrant, kind, and caring people, some of whom have become my closest friends.
They don't just play D&D either. They hike, crochet, rock climb, bike, write, and do all other manners of activities. There is also much more diversity in this community than people realize, with players ranging in age, ethnicity, sexuality, and gender. The D&D community has, without a doubt, enriched my life and opened me up to more friendships and connections than any other community I've been a part of.
The group consisted of four players, and besides Shannon and Nick, the other two players who participated in the live stream wanted to share their thoughts about literacy and supporting ProLiteracy. Here is what they had to say.
Patch Mendelsohn: For me, the interest in tabletop gaming brought me into the TTRPG community, but it has been the camaraderie and positivity, day in and day out, from the people in the community that has kept me involved and coming back. Reading and literacy have always been an important part of my life, so to be able to bring together my loves of reading and gaming in a way that can benefit others by supporting ProLiteracy is incredibly exciting!
David Tilstra: From a young age, I had always been interested in playing TTRPGs, but I was too nervous. A few years back when I finally broke that seal, and started playing, I was blown away by the supportive and amazing community that I found! Not only that, I was blown away by the amazing stories people were telling, and how much of an impact these stories had on people's lives! That's why I am excited to be supporting ProLiteracy. Because you can't have TTRPGs without stories, and stories change the world!
This experience is proof that you never know when you'll have the opportunity to raise awareness about adult literacy. Download the Advocacy Toolkit and always be ready: https://www.proliteracy.org/What-We-Do/Advocacy