10 Tech Tools for Cause Marketers

Here's a list of ten tech tools companies and causes can use for cause marketing to raise money and awareness.

1.  Mobile

It's hard to overstate the impact mobile will have on our lives and on cause marketing in the years ahead. To truly appreciate the explosion of mobile check out The Mobile Revolution. For cause marketing, mobile will require you to resize your thinking about how consumers use and process information. But this will mean more than just having data points. We have to use these devices to tell our stories and build our brands if we are to stay relevant and competitive. [Update 3/24: Here's an interesting mobile infographic published on Mashable.]

2.  Location-Based Services

Foursquare, Facebook Places, Gowalla, SCVNGR, Yelp and others have added a new dimension to marketing by combining location with mobile. The result is a new, interactive way of engaging with consumers that is a natural fit with transactional cause marketing. While current programs are limited to action-triggered donations that reward charities when consumers check-in or perform some other action, the real potential of these platforms is just now unfolding. I've written a whole series of posts on location-based cause marketing for you to enjoy.

3. QR Codes

One of the biggest complaints about transactional cause marketing (e.g. point-of-sale, purchase-triggered donations) is that it's, well, too transactional. Critics contend that consumers make gifts with little regard or knowledge of the cause to which they're donating. I don't totally buy this, but if it is true, QR codes could help consumers easily access a variety of stories, facts and information about causes right from their smartphones.

4. Online Cause Marketing

There's plenty of online cause marketing if you're talking about online videos and websites that market causes. But for transactional cause marketing, the kind that involves companies and causes raising money and awareness, the area is just developing. If you live in the U. S., check out Beanstalk Giving. If you are a U. K. reader, check out Pennies, which is off to a good start. Also, read about Kachingle, which will soon be making a bigger push to be on nonprofit web sites.

5. Group Buying Sites

Group buying sites like Groupon and Living Social are all the rage, but the best group buying site for cause marketers is the one that allows you to combine commerce with cause and contacts to raise money and awareness. The only one that does this is GoodTwo. Read my full report here.

6. Search Engine Optimization

People find everything online these days. What makes you think they're not searching Google for information on cause marketing or for details on your latest program? What will they think when they don't find you? What will they do when they find someone else? It's important that you can be found easily and quickly on the major search engines. Social media can play a key role.

7. Quora

Consumers are insisting that cause marketing campaigns be more transparent on how much is going where and when. The question and answer site Quora is a great place to boost consumers confidence. In an upcoming campaign we plan to include a QR code on a pinup that will directly link shoppers with mobile devices to a Quora page on the program where they can view FAQ's about the program and ask their own questions, which along with the answers will be indexed on the major search engines and discovered by others.

8. Facebook Likes

Facebook Likes are the dominant form of social proof on the web. It only makes sense that as cause marketers we need to explore ways to raise money and build awareness with them. The current way to raise money with Facebook Likes is to have a company support a campaign for a cause that rewards "likes" and other types of social action with a donation. However, the real opportunity for Facebook Likes may be on the awareness side of cause marketing. When companies leverage their brands for causes to secure "Likes" they can trigger a tidal wave of awareness that can lead to engagement and support. (Follow the nonprofit Facebook guru!)

9. Mobile Payments

The use of mobile payments for cause marketing is prophesy not practice right now. But the promise of mobile payments could be a watershed moment for cause marketing as commerce and cause intersect with location. It's exciting stuff. But for now we have to watch and wait.

10. ?????

This last tech tool for cause marketers is your decision. What would you choose? What did I miss?