June 22, 2011

6 ideas to help nonprofits get started on Foursquare


A heat map of Foursquare members worldwide.

Use check-ins & shout-outs to raise awareness among its 10 million members

Target audience: Nonprofits, cause organizations, foundations, NGOs, brands, start-ups, Web publishers, educators.

Guest post by Wilneida Negrón
LawHelp.org

WilneidaHere are six ideas to get your organization started on Foursquare, the geolocation social network that announced Monday it has surpassed 10 million members.

Make your nonprofit a venue on Foursquare

1Make your organization a “venue” on Foursquare so that when people are in your area, a notification about your organization will show up. You can take advantage of this feature by adding advocacy action alerts that will show up when others view your organization to alert people to any advocacy needed or even to recruit volunteers, etc.

Also encourage your staff to start individual Foursquare accounts so that they can promote their activities. For example, if you have an outreach or community education component to your work, your outreach staff could check in at venues where they are holding a workshop, attending a task force or participating in any other community meetings or events.

Bring awareness to resources in your community

2Use the “tips” feature on Foursquare to bring awareness about resources available in your community. Have your staff create individual Foursquare accounts and have them leave tips about locations in the community that could be helpful to your client population. You can also encourage local community leaders to leave tips as well. Your staff can also include facts about your organization, hours of operation, nearest subway or bus stop.

Promote and enhance the donation experience

3Consider this idea to enhance the donor giving experience and support local businesses. Talk to local stores and businesses and see if they will make a tax-deductible donation to your organization if a number of people come to their store. For example, talk to your local coffee shop and see if they will make a donation to your organization if 50 people will check into their shop within a period of time.

You can promote this arrangement in your other social networks accounts such as Twitter, Facebook, etc. and let people know that if they check in at this store, the shop will make a donation to your organization. This is a win‐win situation for all: You can promote your organization and raise funds, local businesses also get promotion and business, and customers feel involved and glad they made a direct contribution.

Community education and public awareness

4Many organizations have been using Foursquare to educate the public and bring awareness to issues affecting the community. For example, the National Wildlife Foundation developed a campaign where every time someone checked into an outdoor space like a park or natural landmark, they would receive NWF sponsored tips of the wildlife they should look for, or views to not miss. The idea is to make visiting outdoor spaces interesting and informative and increase awareness, while at the same time increasing awareness of NWF. Continue reading

March 22, 2011

Using location-based services for your nonprofit


The Feeding America campaign using geolocal.

John HaydonOn Saturday I was on a panel at the Nonprofit Technology Conference in Washington, D.C., discussing the use of location-based services to create awareness and raise money for your organization.

The panel included Estrella Rosenberg of Big Love Little Hearts, Joe Waters from Boston Medical Center, and Dan Michel from Feeding America.

Here are five points I took away from the session:

Understanding user motivations

1Understanding user motivations is important in developing your location-based service strategy. For example, Foursquare users love collecting badges and love becoming the mayor of a venue, while Places users are motivated by sharing interesting places and being on stage in front of their friends. Obviously, these are generalities – using them yourself is the best way to know what your constituents’ motivations are.

Use the services as is

2As you may have guessed, services like Foursquare and Gowalla don’t have the bandwidth to focus on special projects, or wish-list feature requests. With that in mind, develop your strategy around these services as they are – both in terms of user base and features.

Use them as one channel among many

3Because of the limited user base, cultural adoption and functional limitations of these tools, they should be used only as a marginal supplement to other channels. You might be wise to use them experimentally with no expectations of Return on Investment (and be pleasantly surprised when you have a win). Continue reading