One way nonprofits can raise money with FourSquare When FourSquare started getting traction, I wrote a post called: “Where’s my effin bagel Panera Bread?”. If you’ve got regular customers, let them know you love them. FourSquare makes this easy.

How Starbucks uses FourSquare

This morning when I checked into Starbucks, I noticed their ad for a $1 off a Frappucino for their most loyal customers..

One way nonprofits can raise money with FourSquare

Not much of an incentive, but at least it’s better than no bagel.

This is exactly how I saw retailers using FourSquare over eight months ago. Panera still doesn’t get it – probably because they aren’t listening.

Cause marketing twist

Joe Waters is the King of “point-of-sale” cause marketing. He should get a Mayor badge on his blog for writing the most blog posts about FourSquare. I imagine that Joe can come up with many more ways for nonprofits to use FourSquare.

One way nonprofits can raise money with FourSquare

Instead of the “special” for the Mayor, let’s imagine a message about a $10 POS donation to a local non-profit, with a match from the retailer once a certain dollar amount is reached. The message could be updated weekly with updates:

“…So far, 117 people have donated $1,170. Our store will making a matching donation once we hit $2,000.”

The nonprofit can then promote their FourSquare fundraiser to their email contacts and Facebook connections who live in that city.

This kills four birds with one stone:

  1. Creates awareness of the campaign among local FourSquare users.
  2. Drives foot traffic and sales for the store.
  3. This raises money for a local nonprofit.
  4. Local bonds are strengthened between people, business and the social good.

What do you think, Joe? Where are the holes?

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  1. Great idea, John, that I like a lot. I think the ask probably needs to be less than $10–more like $1 to $3–but you certainly capture the way nonprofits can make the most money in any cause marketing pact: THROUGH THE CUSTOMER.

    Let's not forget that Foursquare is a great way to highlight percentage-of-sale-items that could benefit a local cause.

    For example, I was just in my local Starbucks last night picking up my 4sq Mayor bene (for a pic of me in my sash check out my personal blog :)). I got a notice on the $1 savings, but how about instead I got additional savings on one of the products they sell that benefit Product RED. This is a great way to encourge customers to buy prodcuts from which a percentage goes to a good cause.

    I love Foursquare's work with Starbucks, but I hope readers will take a peek at what Boston-based Boloco is doing with Foursquare. Not only is it cool but it uses Foursquare AS IS, which makes sense for smaller businesses. While Boloco's Foursquare program isn't designed for a cause, I give several suggestions on how it could be adapted for nonprofits.

  2. Love the idea and your example “So far, 117 people have donated $1,170. Our store will making a matching donation once we hit $2,000″ is super-important because it shows the parameters of the goal. Seth Godin did a fantastic post on this not too long ago, how giving and donating seems like a never-ending ask for money. His advice was essentially to make the goal attainable (but challenging) and not leave it open-ended.

    When dealing with the likes of FourSquare and ultra-short attention spans, this becomes even more relevant. By virtue of the medium, a quick decision is required and you want them deciding in your favor. Setting clear boundaries makes this an easier sell.

    1. Megan – exactly. And it's even better if you can create a short line of
      sight to the impact. For example: “Your $10 will buy 3 meals for homeless

  3. Me again. Here's the link for the Boloco Foursquare Mayor Card.

    A great promotion because it uses the most basic asset on Foursquare: Mayors. When you frequent a place enough (like John, who's Mayor of “In A Pickle”–no idea on type of business folks) you become the Mayor. What Boloco does is reward their mayors, kind of like how Starbucks does, BUT there is offline component that is very cool and very social.

    Check out the post to learn more.


  4. What if Foursquare offered a choice: as Mayor you get $1 off your beverage of choice OR we'll make a donation to this charity? Make it easy peasy for the “mayor” to donate back his/her privilege. I like that it puts the choice in the hands of the foursquare user and becomes a proactive charity donation.

  5. I love this idea and Debra's suggestion. Maybe Foursquare could also work with NPOs to offer charity badges. Rough example: We provide teddy bears for police departments. You could earn a “Bear Hug” badge (or some better name) for checking into Build-A-Bear or similar store and mentioning @BearsOnPatrol in your tweet.

  6. I'm wondering what the impact will be with TweetDeck now offering Foursquare integration. Should be positive, especially with all the laptop users at Starbucks (those that might not be checking in with a Blackberry).

    1. Frank – That's a very good question. I see orgs messaging folks while they
      are at locations. Giving them updates on specials or charities during their

  7. At SOBCon, @charityestrella told me how she raised $25k in one day using foursquare for for children w heart defects at #100×100 site.

    Guest post, maybe? thanks for the post, John.