Endorse for a Cause is Worth the Pause

Endorse for a Cause (EFAC) is the new online cause marketing site on the block. The goal of the site is a simple one: "Every time you and your friends shop and share, you can earn money for your favorite cause." This is how it works.

The really interesting part about EFAC is its connection with social networks. When online shoppers share brands and products with their friends over Twitter and Facebook retailers donate a percentage of sales to their favorite causes.

I had the chance to catch up with EFAC's President and Founder Ed Trimble last week and discussed his ambitions for the site.

Ed shared that while consumers can simply use the EFAC site as a portal to shop online and help their favorite charities, the real goal is to get the EFAC plug-in on as many shopping sites as possible. Ed and I agreed that while the charity shopping portals of old were a good idea on paper, they never worked. Consumers used them a couple of times and then forgot about them.

This will be less likely if the EFAC plug-in is prominently displayed on the retailer's shopping page.

The great thing about the EFAC plug-in is that it fits any site, large or small online business, so the democratization of cause marketing via social media continues. Small businesses can empower consumers to market their online products and services to their friends in exchange for a percentage back to worthy causes. That's win-win.

I was curious about Ed's take on moving beyond Twitter and Facebook to Foursquare, Gowalla and other location-based networks. Ed assured me that it's in the works (one battle at a time), but you have to wonder how this would work with the current EFAC model, which is link based.

Could a similar rewards system for charities be location-based? A shopper shares a link about a fabulous new store and if a friend comes in with special link or code they get a discount? Of course, the best way to link offline items with EFAC would be bar codes. Scan the bar code, share it with a friend over Twitter, Facebook or even Foursquare--along with a picture of the product--and if they buy the product the retailer (or manufacturer) would reward the charity.

It's all very interesting. I have to admit that I haven't been a big fan of online cause marketing tools. They've expected too much of consumers and gave back too little to causes. However, thanks to social networks the timing is right for an online cause marketing platform to flourish. But which one will it be? Which will you endorse?