Social Fundraising Meets Online Couponing?

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Have you or someone you know tried an online-couponing-approach to your social fundraising (think:  Groupon, LivingSocial, etc.)? There are three ways we currently see social fundraising when it comes to online couponing. Below, an example is provided of each type:

  1. Third Party Fundraising. For this, you or your organization would partner with an online coupon site to encourage its network to donate to your cause.
  2. Corporate Social Responsibility. With this approach, a company or organization may make fundraising and supporting nonprofits a key part of their organization and a core function to its business.
  3. Social Good Couponing. You or your organization create your own “online couponing” model as part of your outreach and fundraising strategy.

Third Party Coupon Fundraising

Like any third-party fundraising platform, you want to read the fine print before adopting a coupon-model–such as how much money will go to your cause versus to the business. However, with the growing use of online couponing sites–it’s also important to be aware of the trend and start to think of what you can learn from it to possibly implement into your own strategy.

One example of an online-couponing site offering its network up for fundraising is Groupon’s G-Team initiative. G-Team operates similar to Groupon itself, only instead, users can donate their money or time to local organizations and causes. If enough people commit to the cause or event, then the “deal” is on, people are charged and the project happens. As of March 2011, this initiative was currently already being offered in Chicago, Austin and New York with plans to expand to San Francisco, DC, Los Angeles, Portland, Atlanta, Boston and Minneapolis-St. Paul. Past G-Team examples include:

To learn more about Groupon’s G-Team effort, Patty Huber, Groupon’s Social Innovation Team Lead, recently shared Groupon’s roots in social change and the drive behind G-Team in this interview. However, Groupon isn’t the only player in town. Frank Barry recently published this intriguing article on Mashable earlier this year titled, “Group Buying for Social Good: 7 Sites Using Daily Deals to Give Back.” If your interested in a robust discussion about the pros and cons of an online coupon approach, read this Greater Greater Washington blog post where they debate if the public organization, Capital Bikeshare, got a good deal using Living Social or not.

Corporate Social Responsibility

Like other organizations, we also see online couponing sites using their own platform to support fundraising efforts. For example, LivingSocial used its network and platform to drive fundraising efforts supporting Japan-Earthquake relief efforts.

Social Good Couponing

Here’s our question here at Inspiring Generosity: Who’s implemented their own social good coupon approach using their own platform? While not necessarily for social fundraising, FUSE, a lobbying firm in Washington, recently launched their own advocacy campaign titled “Living Greedy” using a similar online couponing approach that we see being successful with sites like Groupon and LivingSocial.

For us who want to inspire generosity–Have you seen organizations launch similar types of efforts? Right now, it seems like the model of going through a third party is the most popular avenue. But what about integrating aspects of online couponing more into your overall fundraising efforts?

The Secret Sauce

Incentive. An online couponing approach emphasizes the incentives to give. If you give, a goal will be achieved, people will do something, and/or action will be taken. This valuable exchange is often present in any social fundraising efforts–however, here it is tangible.

Have you ever heard this mantra? To create movements and inspire action, you need to make the desired action easy, popular and fun. This is the great advantage of online couponing.

It’s easy: it’s online and the concept of coupons has been around for awhile.

It’s popular: By making it a group activity, people can see the growing popularity of the movement–and invite others to participate right then and there.

It’s fun: There’s usually only a limited time period that the “offer” is on the table. If you’ve taken away nothing else from this post, take away the concept of integrating incentives into your social fundraising efforts.