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Link raises an unprecedented €1700 for charity

Unexpected but very welcome outcomes.

Around 04:00 on the 27th of march a very exhausted Link board could be seen on stream celebrating that a milestone had been reached which only a few days prior felt like an impossible achievement. A stream that was originally planned to run for around 56 hours ended up running for 65 hours. With the statistics of the stream being released it gives a very clear picture of the amount of dedication that was given to this charity event by every member of TSEA Link. The stream has attracted a total of 696 viewers during the 65 hours with a maximum of 61 concurrent viewers. With 108 unique chatters and a total of 14.070 chat messages it also showcases a massive participation of the community throughout the stream.

Within those 65 hours there were around 41 different members who took part in this stream. Each playing different games and making sure to keep the audience engaged. Each streamer had their own challenges for different amounts of money donated. Within the first few hours of the stream having started Linkies had managed to donate enough to make the External Affairs Officer Bedo break two eggs on his head, and wear a dress while also having to do an insane amount of push-ups. With the big milestones in place the board has a lot of challenges they will have to complete. For reaching €400 the Treasurer Annika will be dyeing her hair pink. Another milestone a few tiers up had Bedo pledge to donate his hair that he’s been growing for two years to a cancer charity. But these milestones not only included challenges to the board members but also promises to members of Link. Upon reaching €1500 the board has pledged to throw a pizza party for all Linkies.

A Link tradition
Having a charity stream has become somewhat of a tradition for Link as an association. It started around two years ago during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic. Link reached out to the Student Desk Red Cross' call for raising money to battle the covid pandemic in order to set up a charity event, which ended up becoming a livestream event seeing as everything during that time would have to happen digitally.
With the earthquakes affecting a big region in Türkiye and Syria the current board took the initiative this time of setting up the charity event for the Student Desk Red Cross in order to provide aid to as many people as possible. The Student Desk Red Cross was very happy with this initiative and welcomed the charity event.

The charities involved
The €1700 that Linkies have donated will be going completely to charity. 70% of the donated amount will be going to the Red Cross who is working to deliver emergency relief to those affected by the recent earthquakes in Türkiye and Syria. The remaining 30% of the donated amount will be received by this years’ Swim for Charity event which is a yearly 12-hour swim marathon organized by a fellow Tilburg based student swimming association Avalon and the Red Cross of Tilburg. The latter is with a focus on helping with people who require food aid in The Netherlands. This highlights a commitment of the association to helping those abroad as well as maintaining a helping hand with local charities.

Insight from the board about the event
With the event having ended just two days ago from this article being written, I have taken the opportunity to approach the current board to get a feel of how it felt to be the ones to reach this unprecedented milestone with donations, while also getting an insight into how the livestream event went from their perspective.

The time format chosen
My first question to the board was in regards to the time frame originally chosen for the livestream event. I was curious as to why the 56 hour time frame was chosen for the charity stream. To which the current President Leo gave me an answer.

Leo: ‘’We’ve done a stream previously as a Halloween event. Which was just for fun, we reached around 36 hours as a marathon stream. And this time we wanted to top that. We opened the signups and anyone could message me and request a time slot ranging between one to four hours. Most of them ended up being two hour time slots.’’
With the aforementioned time slots the 56 hour format was put into place. This would however not be the end amount of time streamed.

Leo: ‘’ But then, we had our board closing stream where we said that for every amount of money donated, we would keep streaming for a longer amount of time, and people kept donating until it was almost 5 a.m.. So, it turned from a planned 56 hours all the way to 65 hours.’’

The expectations of the board going into the event
Having heard that the board’s own expectations had been exceeded repeatedly I was curious to hear what their exact expectations were before the event.

Annika: ‘’ We expected a lot of chat interaction, because we as board, at least prepared something very tactical with the Jackbox games. We also expected some outside parties to watch, for example: the DSEA people, who were a group from another student association who took part in the Brigadeiros (A League of Legends team for TSEA Link) League of Legends portion of the stream. We also expected people to subscribe and follow which all did end up happening. So that's really nice.’’

The current president Leo also had some specific expectations before the event.

Leo: ‘’ Yeah. And I'd say on top of that. My initial, at least for me personally, my initial goal was to hit 40 hours and like, high expectations was 48 hours. And then, you know, we kind of smashed that. Viewership wise, I was expecting, a peak of 25-30 viewers at one time. But our peak viewership was actually around 61 concurrent viewers.’’

The biggest surprise to the board was the amount of interaction that they got with the viewers while on stream. One aspect that the current Treasurer enjoyed was that the chat would react and interact with what they were doing on stream. At one point during the stream the Link channel was showing up on the home page for Dutch based watchers who watch a lot of gaming related streams. The current External Affairs Officer João(Bedo) was also surprised by the amount of engagement received from the chat, specially when the stream went into the late hours of the night.

Bedo: ‘’and even at like 3 am we still had 30 viewers with us? Which is mind boggling.’’
While asking about these expectations before the stream I could not remiss asking about the expectations the board had when it came to the amount of donations they were prepared to receive from this event.

Leo: ‘’So this. Okay, so specifically about the money, we looked at the past years, And they were already absolutely insane and the last charity live stream raised something like €570?’’

Bedo: ‘’€580’’

Leo: ‘’€580 euros. And we already thought that was crazy because that means an average €2.50 donated per member and you know, we all know that not every member is going to be watching so it's like that's, that means on average five euro donated per like member watching because we saw that we had something like 120 active viewers. So about half of Link was watching. So we expected pretty much the same results which honestly still would have been crazy to me. Because that would have been an average of five euros per viewer donated.’’

Bedo: ‘’but we beat that by a lot.’’

Leo: ‘’People just absolutely went crazy and were donating all the time. We had, we have some people who donated over 100 euros, so that was absolutely insane.’’

Bedo: ‘’And even then, there were so many people that just donated like five euros or three euros.’’

Luuk: ‘’Yeah, and a lot of people kept donating small amounts throughout the 65 hours.’’

The highest one time donation appears to have been a €89 donation. But in totality there were people who were donating over €100. These were people who would donate across multiple stream time slots. This ties directly to each streamer having their own challenges in place for amounts donated in their time slots.

When I asked the board if they ever expected to reach the amount of €1700 they collectively let out a very loud “NO!” with a tinge of disbelief.

Milestones during the event
To incentivize donations the board had set up multiple milestone goals if the donations reached certain amounts. This turned out to be something that would also have to be adjusted on the spot as the expected donation amount kept getting exceeded.

Leo: ‘’Yes. So in total, we were setting milestones on what to do. And we expected to get €600, like €600 was our baseline expectation. And we thought like €800 if people are crazy. And so we set our goals accordingly. So we set things that we also didn't really expect to happen at higher levels.’’

Luuk: ‘’At one point, we jokingly said at 1600, we will do a maid cafe.’’

Which is now an event that the board will be having to organize in the future.

The challenges faced during the event
Of course no event goes without their challenges. I was curious to hear what type of challenges the board faced during the 65 hours. But before I could even complete my question they all answered it for me.

Joël: ‘’Next question is, what was the biggest challenge? You faced during the 65 hou-‘’

All: ‘’Staying awake, sleep.’’

By far having to stay awake for the whole event was the biggest challenge for the board. Leo mentioned that one board member would have to be awake at all times to be able to remedy any problems that might pop up during the streams. Leo had made this job slightly easier for everyone involved by creating a handbook for all the streamers, specifically the first time streamers.

Leo: ‘’Yeah, basically. One of us always had to be awake. To monitor the chat to see how things are going and if anyone needed help. and, of course, we also had some people who had never streamed before. So, beforehand, I set up. Streamlabs, which is the streaming program we use. I set that up for every single person. And, Then just to make sure that everything was going smoothly. One of us always had to be awake and it ended up with us pretty much always only getting four or five hours of sleep at night, At the very end.’’

‘’So after it started on Friday. So for the night from Friday to Saturday, getting only four hours of sleep and then the night from Saturday to Sunday once again only getting four hours of sleep and then having to stay awake until 5 am the next night. You know, that was honestly so hard.’’

I was curious if there were any problems with the streamers during their time slots or if everything ran smoothly.

Leo: ‘’What was the problem sometimes is that, we did have a course, quite some new people who’ve never streamed before and I tried placing them in day time slots when there would be multiple people available to help. And luckily, it ended up going well, but sometimes there was like around five minutes delay. Because, for example, people selected the wrong output resolution or things like that. So I created like a small handbook with screenshots and how to follow on what to do and how to fix things basically. And, then in most of the time, I was lucky enough that it was during a time slot where I was awake. So it was quite easy to just hop in discord. And within five minutes, everything was fixed.’’

Comparing to other charities
After hearing about the stream itself and everything that came with it, I was wondering how this specific charity event compares to other charity events the current board has been a part of or has seen in passing.
Everyone in the board seemed pleased that Link as an association had overtaken other charity events in amount of money raised. One specific example was the yearly Etiquette Dinner which is hosted by the university together with the student party Font. It is an event which brings together around 20 different boards from all kinds of student associations, these range from sports, culture and study associations. This specific event raised around €1350.

Bedo: ‘’Not to discredit them but it's good to know that. Like we pulled this off alone. Basically. Yeah. We pulled it off alone with our members, you know, and that's awesome. It's hard. It's different too you know.’’

Luuk: ‘’It’s also nice that with raising such a large amount compared to such an event that it also kind of cements Link’s Position, that it’s actually a big association to the university, and actually being able to make an impact if we want to.’’

Highlights of the event
The weekend didn’t go without it’s highlights. I was curious to see what the board members found the be their most memorable moments of the weekend.

Annika: ‘’My personal highlight was the board stream, the 10 hour board stream, because I cannot believe that we actually did that. I can't believe people stayed with us so late. I can't believe people participated and it just felt. I was just very proud and I felt like we really did something, something great.’’

Leo: ‘’I was also going to say that. Yeah. I think I'll narrow it down even a little bit further. The specific part I loved the most. It's when we were at around three in the morning and we still had 30 people watching and playing games with us. So we're playing interactive games with a chat. And just the amount of interaction that so many people still gave us. Everyone was still typing in chat. Everyone was still laughing. Everyone was still making comments. So how so many people stuck with us and helped make it an incredibly entertaining event. I think that's my favorite part.’’

Bedo: ‘’My favorite part personally, was the specific moment where I donated my hair. I’ve been growing out my hair for two years and never cut it since, and I basically set a goal at around €600 that if we hit that goal, I would donate on My hair on Sunday to a cancer charity. And we hit it and it was very memorable to just, you know, Sacrifice that part of myself. For such a good cause and if I had another moment, it would be. When we hit the milestone to go donate blood as board because it just feels good because we're benefiting not only Syria and Türkiye, not only the food shortage in The Netherlands ones. But also, Uh, you know, we get to help cancer charity.’’

Luuk: ‘’One thing that kind of made me laugh in which I think actually raised a lot of money is the fact that the stream of one point, just turned into a karaoke stream. Like once we started on Friday, we're just like you can pay so much and I will sing a song for you. Every stream started copying that. Everybody just, apparently love seeing people sing on stream, Which I thought was very funny. I think it kind of looks into the humor that we have as Link in the connection with each other. We like to sing together, We love to have fun together and those kind of silly things. Although I am also, sad I was not there for the 10 hour because I had to sleep for an exam so that was a bit unfortunate.’’

Closing messages
After the interview with the board I wanted to know what messages they had for the people who maybe be reading this. And to any future board members who may be brave enough to try to break this achievement. When I asked the president specifically about the latter I got a very interesting reply.

Leo: ‘’Oh, I dare you to.(laughter) No, my message is. I hope you do. Yep. I really, really hope you do and I wish you the best of luck. Yeah.’’

Annika: ‘’And we believe in you.’’

Leo: ‘’And if you need any help, we're always here. And we're going to be there to cheer you on.’’

The board also encourages any future board members to not be afraid of being proactive and seeking more or other charities for events like this or otherwise.

When asked if the board had any message they wanted to direct specifically to the Linkies reading this they could not stop being thankful to each and every member that made all of this possible.

Bedo: ‘’Thank you. Thank you.’’
Leo: ‘’We love you so much and thank you for the amount of time spent sticking through with us and honestly made it so much easier to have so many dedicated people to make it so much easier for us, and just be there with us, Keeping us going, Keeping us awake and, Honestly, I never thought we would reach this far. So Linkies are amazing.‘’

Annika: ‘’Yes, thank you for all the love.’’

Luuk: ‘’Thank you for all the love, time, effort, money, everything. Without you, this wouldn't have been possible. It is really good to see such a big collective effort here. It really speaks to the character of the association. It's a very close group of people, people who are comfortable with each other. And together we can achieve a lot.’’