Since the fires broke out in summer of 2019, over 25 lives have been lost and more than 14 million acres have burned across the country.
“The Activision partnership, from my understanding, was a bit of a surprise,” Direct Relief CEO Thomas Tighe said in a phone interview with The Post. “They saw what we were doing in Australia and offered to help.”
Headquartered in California, Direct Relief had a large inventory of breathing masks set aside for California wildfires. However, as those began to dwindle down and Australia began to experience its own crisis, Direct Relief pivoted, focusing its efforts on aiding the country and sending its many unused masks.
“We plugged in with a bunch of groups that had expressed interest and that was a really nice thing to do, which is, I think, what caught Activision’s attention,” Tighe said, adding that it’s unusual to get an unprompted call from a big global company asking to rally its efforts toward a cause.
This isn’t the first time a video game company has partnered with Direct Relief for charitable reasons. In response to 2015′s deathly earthquake in Nepal, Bungie raised over $1 million from 50,000 gamers who purchased t-shirts and in-game items, and sent proceeds to Direct Relief. Since 2011, Zynga has raised $1.9 million for Direct Relief’s several emergency response activities.
“I think [Zynga was] the largest contributor for the Japan earthquake effort [in 2011],” Tighe said, noting the company raised funds through in-game promotions in the multiplayer social media game Mafia Wars.
Tighe calls philanthropic video game efforts “fantastic,” and is astonished at how successful they can be.
“It’s extraordinary,” he said. “Just to see that people who don’t have to do this do it because they want to and kind of capitalize on all of their talent and smarts and technology and entertainment instincts — we’ve never had that. No nonprofit would ever have that [kind of platform].”