McKinney launches mobile version of SPENT - McKinney

McKinney launches mobile version of SPENT

July 29, 2014

The online game about homelessness created for Urban Ministries of Durham in 2011 goes mobile in 2014

Urban Ministries of Durham (UMD), the nonprofit behind a game about surviving poverty, and its ad agency McKinney announce that SPENT can now be played on phones and tablets. Launched in February 2011, SPENT continues to be played by millions of people in hundreds of countries. This and the fact that more and more people worldwide are using Web browsers on their mobile devices warranted an HTML version of the game, which was originally developed using Flash.

Players still spend more than 11 minutes on the site, where they must make the same difficult decisions about money and resources that the families and individuals served by UMD must make every single day. Whether players make it through the month, and the end of the game, with money left over or not, they’re asked to share SPENT, get involved with UMD or donate via PayPal. The addition of a new text-to-give component will make it easy for phone and tablet players to support the nonprofit, as both the donation total and number of players continue to rise.

McKinney recently launched a second thought-provoking website that spotlights the emergency services organization’s homeless shelter and helps to enlist people’s support. At Names for Change™, anyone can buy the naming rights to 169 different items that UMD uses in their shelter every day. Visitors can share a customizable high-quality poster online, download it or order a glossy print to give as a gift, and they support UMD with every cent.

Key Facts

Since February 2011, SPENT has been played more than 4 million times by almost 2 million people in 218 countries.

The average time players spend on the SPENT website is 11:46 minutes, more than half the total time U.S. adults spend playing online games each day, according to figures released by The Wall Street Journal.

With SPENT, Urban Ministries of Durham has raised nearly $70,000 to date in its efforts to provide food, shelter and a future to Durham’s neediest.
Supporting Quote

Patrice Nelson, Executive Director, Urban Ministries of Durham

“Teachers and college professors have been especially passionate about using SPENT, using the game to show students the problems faced by those living in poverty. Several times each month, we get calls from teachers asking to use the game or telling us the strong emotions that it evoked in their classrooms. The game designers at McKinney used real scenarios faced by our clients and treated them with compassion and humanity, and that comes through when people play.

“When we first launched SPENT, my simple hope was that it would help affluent people in our local metro area understand a little better the wrenching choices their very poor neighbors face every day. But it’s exceeded our wildest expectation, touching millions of people worldwide.

“SPENT has also raised an impressive amount of donation income, enough to end homelessness for 14 people. I know that the mobile version of the game will help SPENT find even more viewers and continue its work of raising funding and awareness to help those in need.”

Supporting Resources

About Urban Ministries of Durham

Urban Ministries of Durham offers food, shelter and a future to poor and homeless neighbors, helping end homelessness for 245 people in a single year. The Community Shelter offers case management and welcomes about 140 homeless neighbors every night, with 80 beds for men, 26 beds for women and nine family rooms. UMD’s Community Café serves some 600 meals a day, donated and prepared largely by community volunteers. The Clothing Closet and Food Pantry help over 450 households per month, on average. To learn more, visit

About McKinney

Founded in 1969, McKinney’s mission is to help our clients by creating big ideas that grab people emotionally and change the way they think, feel and behave. McKinney is recognized for having one of the most innovative business models in the industry focused on delivering creativity that the influences the world. The agency has been honored by the industry’s most prestigious award shows, including the Cannes Lions, the Effies, the One Show and the One Show Interactive, and the IAB MIXX Awards (including two Best in Show). McKinney has been recognized as one of the Best Places to Work in Marketing & Media by Advertising Age and one of a handful of agencies setting the standard for creativity by One Magazine. The agency’s clients include Sherwin-Williams, Nationwide, Nationwide Financial, Travelocity, Samsung, Mentos, World of Coca-Cola, ESPN, Mizuno USA, Hankook, Gold’s Gym, CenturyLink, Dognition, Big Boss Brewing and Urban Ministries of Durham. McKinney is part of Cheil Worldwide, one of the world’s leading marketing communications networks with 59 offices in 37 countries. One agency with two doors, McKinney has offices in both Durham, North Carolina, and in New York. To learn more, visit and follow @mckinney.