Foursquare + Mobile Payments = New Cause Marketing Platform

The latest cause marketing program from Foursquare is looking a lot like last year's. Maybe the folks at Foursquare should watch the movie Groundhog Day.

Don't get me wrong, it's all for a great cause, but location-based services like can be used for much more than action-triggered donations.

What if Foursquare could combine a special offer with a mobile payment so that shoppers could check-in an give.

Take the example above of Sports Authority and Boarding for Breast Cancer. If a consumer checks in at a Sport Authority they would get a message that says:

Sports Authority is supporting Boarding for Breast Cancer. Donate a dollar through Foursquare and we'll match your donation up to a total donation of $10,000.

Here comes the cool part. The consumer can donate to the cause directly through Foursquare with the touch of a button. No more asking at the register for shoppers to support a cause. No more paper pinups filling landfills after programs are over.

The store can promote the program, of course, and employees can act as facilitators for it, but there would be no ask at the register and no pinups. It would be passive cause marketing, but better because donating is quick and easy.

I'm also assuming that some stores will be good places for this as some brands will put shoppers in the giving vein. Donate a dollar when you check-in to Whole Foods to support organic farms. Support fair-trade coffee bean farmers when you check-in to Starbucks. Save puppies from the pound when you check-in to your local pet store.

The missing piece is the payment system that would allow shoppers to make an immediate donation. I asked this question at Quora and got some interesting responses on some services like Gifi and FaceCash that might work. The challenge is that none of these are widely adopted enough that retailers or consumers would use them for a cause marketing program.

Another option is text giving. But it means users leaving the Foursquare app, and to my knowledge you can't donate just a buck via text and the fees would eat up a good portion of the donation.

The idea of checking in on Foursquare and making a donation could work in a lot of other settings beside stores.

Check in to Yellowstone National Park on Foursquare and you're asked to donate a buck to the park. Or maybe it's just when you check-in to certain sites within the park like Old Faithful. You could do the same thing with museums, historical sites and colleges.

And there's no reason why companies cannot be involved in these asks with co-branding, incentives and offers of their own.

I like what's been done for causes thus far on Foursquare. But things are starting to get old. It's time to check-in to another venue.