Bookmarks: Causeworld and How to Turn Virtual Karma Points into Real World Donations

Guest post by Lisa Brawer

causeworldDonating money without spending a dime… Sounds good, doesn’t it? Mega corporations like Kraft and Proctor & Gamble footing the bill? Even better! Causeworld is a location-based mobile application that turns marketing dollars into charitable donations for your organization, and regular people get to choose where the money goes. Seems like it’s a win-win, not to mention a brilliant business strategy.

The Causeworld app (available for iPhone and Android devices) lets users earn “Karmas” by walking into stores and checking in over the phone. Choosing from a list of national, well-known nonprofits, people donate their Karmas, and corporate sponsors turn the Karmas into real money. This seems easy enough- and it engages users in a modern, mobile way. It also fits the economic times really well. It’s free.

A coveted spot on Causeworld’s list of charitable organizations brings a new opportunity to nonprofits. They can generate revenue from an unlikely source: people too broke to donate actual money. And it’s working. Since launching in December 2009, monthly donations have averaged over $200,000.

What Shopkick, the company behind Causeworld, is really aiming for is a way to bridge the gap between the mobile world and the physical retail world. Their status as innovators in mobile technology has been helpful in attracting the attention- and investments- of big companies looking for new ways to spend marketing dollars. And respected non-profits are reaping the benefits.

Similar apps like Gowalla and Foursquare have become wildly popular, even incorporating offers to benefit charitable organizations into their messaging — but only if users make a purchase. Causeworld users are able to donate without having to buy anything, making it the clear choice for people wanting to use their cell phones to save the world, one Karma at a time.

Causeworld opens up a world of new opportunity, and has the potential to revolutionize modern cause-marketing practices. Big corporations have a new (lucrative) incentive to donate to charity; and regular folks get to do a good deed, and be exposed to a whole lot of brand impressions along the way. Again, brilliant. And profitable for everyone.

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Lisa Brawer is a Los Angeles-based writer who cares about animals, ending poverty, and promoting peace and equality. She says her dream job “would involve doing something positive every day.”