Your Drive Thru Guide to Fundraising on Foursquare

I talk to more and more people every day who want to use Foursquare and other location-based services for fundraising and cause marketing.

I point them to a whole series of posts I've written on the subject. But now I think I need to make the whole process just as simple as possible.

Fortunately, I have some help as McDonald's has just launched a Foursquare promotion with its restaurants in Philadelphia to benefit the Ronald McDonald House Charities (RMHC). This promotion runs through March 17th.

Here's what you'll need for your cause marketing promotion on Foursquare.

  1. A partnership between a cause and company. In this case, it's McDonald's and the RMHC. No company or cause? No cause marketing.
  2. At the minimum, the company has made a commitment of money or product per check-in. McDonald's is donating $1 for each check-in.
  3. The venues that will be part of the promotion need to be claimed on Foursquare. If they're not, they'll be nowhere to check-in to! Fortunately, creating a venue is easy. On the bottom right of this page, click on "Search and claim your venue."

The next phase is to set-up the actual promotion.

  • Encourage consumers to check-in on Foursquare. Who should you target? First, people on Facebook and Twitter as they are already social media savvy and more likely to be using Foursquare. The other opportunity is with in-store customers via signage. Check out these posters that our partner, Finagle A Bagel, hung in their stores.

  • Be clear with users on how their check-in is counted. This is what I really like about the McDonald's promotion. A one dollar donation is made to RMHC whenever a Foursquare check-in is sent to Twitter with the McDonald's Philadelphia handle "@McDPhilly". If you've used Foursquare you know this is very easy to do (see below), and it's a great promotional idea for McDonald's. They'll reach a much bigger audience on Twitter and it makes for easy counting as you only have to do a search on the @McDPhilly handle to determine what the  contribution should be.

  • Reward users for their participation. McDonald's is giving each customer that participates in the mobile social fundraiser a coupon for a free McCafe Shake.

  • Add up your check-ins on Twitter when the program is completed. But you might want to do this daily or weekly. There are many ways to do this, but you can use Tweetdeck or Tweedgrid and did a search for the handle "@McDPhilly".

I think this is an easy way to use Foursquare for cause marketing. You don't have to petition Foursquare for any special promotion or badge. You can track your own numbers on Twitter, which are open for all to see.

But it's obvious you need a couple things to make this program work.

  1. A generous company to front the money for the program. No money, no donation per check-in.
  2. Either the cause or the company, preferably both, need to be engaged on social media. If you have 10 followers on Twitter and 80 friends on Facebook and you think people will suddenly come out in droves to support you on Foursquare you are dead wrong.

Consider the example last week of Second Harvest Food Bank and the Social Media Challenge they did with Massage Envy. The reason the program worked is because Second Harvest already had a vibrant online community (which was further enhanced by the  program).

To review:

  • Find a partner with some dough.
  • Confirm their social media credentials.
  • Develop a program that is easy and fun.
  • Reward and thank supporters.
  • Use Twitter to track engagement and donations.

Like the people under the Golden Arches say, I'm lovin' it.