Rochester group Weirdcards is a charitable club seeking to increase social interaction and enhance giving by uniting people through a love of game playing.
Weirdcards began as an informal gathering of people who liked to play cards and tabletop games around a break room table at Mayo Clinic. This small meeting over lunch eventually got so big, the gathering was moved into founding member Jason Egginton’s basement to play Magic: The Gathering, a trading card game modelled after fantasy role playing games like Dungeons and Dragons. The group used these first larger gatherings as fundraisers for both national and local nonprofits.
“But the catch was once we did it, people wanted to keep doing it and we quickly outgrew my basement,” Egginton explained.
After several repeated basement successes, the group hoped to challenge people to perform acts of charity more frequently, not just once a year. They wondered, if they set up a website that was always “on” and hosted more frequent fundraising events, would people buy into the idea?
To pursue this question, the group formed a 501(c)7 social club called Weirdcards in the fall of 2016 to bring like-minded people together monthly to raise money for a local cause. Since that time, the group has also spun out a 501(c)3 educational nonprofit called MagiKids to teach children how to play Magic: The Gathering through donated cards and other gaming items.
Egginton says the social club now runs itself through an extensive svolunteer network and gets 25-30K hits per week on their website. Weirdcards and MagiKids have come at a vital time, Egginton explained, when people want to get themselves and their kids away from screen time and cell phones and interacting more with others. MagiKids is engrained in the curriculum at Kellogg Middle School and is part of the local Boys & Girls Club.
The entrenchment of game playing in these organizations, Egginton says, has felt really good.
“It has felt really meaningful and it has felt really impactful. We’re doing what we love to do,” he explained.
Weirdcards is 100% volunteer led.
“We have been very fortunate to pick up club members who have skill sets that come in just at the right time,” Egginton explained.
The organization has about forty core volunteers who are very diverse in terms of age, gender, race, and skill set. Egginton says the biggest success of Weirdcards has been the cohesion and flexibility of this team of volunteers. These dedicated members have been key to managing the rapid rate of growth the club is currently experiencing.
“The appetite for whatever it is that we’re doing here is formidable,” he explained.
In less than three years, the group went from meeting around a lunch table to attending thirty person events to now having website traffic of over 100K people from around the world each month.
Weirdcards has also established their own format to play Magic: The Gathering, which they call Oathbreaker. This style of play, Weirdcards believes, enhances the creativity of game players to enable a fun, casual interaction and values the comradery of the game over winning.
With 30 million Magic: The Gathering players across the globe, Egginton says it’s a major win to see Oathbreaker succeed and not be crowded out by other game playing formats.
“Embedded in the speed of growth is this idea that Weirdcards isn’t just a bunch of do-gooders. We’ve actually developed a format for a very complex game. And we are thought leaders, which is crazy cool,” he explained.
Weirdcards and MagiKids are currently part of the Rochester Area Foundation, an incubator space for nonprofits.
Weirdcard’s success thus far has enabled the group to raise “a lot of money for local causes, which is obviously a great feeling,” Egginton explained.
Some members in the group, Egginton explained, work close to full time on Weirdcards. He wants to remain open to ideas that will help to facilitate growth, including potential hiring of staff to help run operations of the nonprofit and social club.