CauseTalk Radio Ep78: PayPal Talks About the Future of Online Giving

Today on CauseTalk Radio, Megan and I talk to Clam Lorenz, Director of Nonprofit Engagement at PayPal. Clam explains the important role Paypal plays in processing billions of dollars of donations every year, and how it's always expanding the ways it can work with nonprofits.

Clam also talks about the exponential growth of mobile donations and how PayPal is leading the charge in mobile giving. We also discuss the challenges nonprofits have in adopting a mobile-first strategy.

Finally, Clam, Megan and I discuss giving trends for 2014. Tune in now!

'Employee Engagement' is My New Cause Marketing Buzzword

I'm trying to learn more about volunteering and employee engagement initiatives for businesses that want more than the transactional cause marketing campaigns I specialize in. These are the days when I wish employee volunteering expert Chris Jarvis lived closer to me and not in the home of terrible baseball, Toronto.

The employee engagement side of cause marketing is mostly new to me. Sure, employee volunteers - upwards to 1,200 people  for a two day event - were a big part of the Halloween event I produced in Boston for five years. But organizations focused on this area are taking employee volunteering to a whole new level with online platforms that bring causes into cubicles.

This week, Los Angeles based Causecast announced its new Employee Impact Platform, which helps companies promote and manage workforce volunteering. This can range from highlighting volunteer and community opportunities, to making matchable donations, to sharing news and updates on the company's commitment to and progress addressing social initiatives.

Causecast is positioning its EIP as the first full-service platform for employee engagement.

The arrival of Causescast, a for-profit company, into a space that has largely been led by nonprofits such as VolunteerMatch and HandsOn Network, may highlight the value of employee engagement programs both as an opportunity and as a business. In a conversation I had with Ryan Scott, CEO and Founder of Causecast, back in October, he stressed that his for-profit company was better positioned to meet company demands for a state-of-the-art engagement platform.

In a note to me yesterday, Ryan said, "I'm leveraging the power of capitalism to transform the way we build social change movements. People are pushing for this kind of change  - Occupy Wall Street being a prime example - but have no tools to make it happen.  Effectively engaging employees in a shared company social mission can drive a movement from the inside, one that has the power to create measurable impact around social issues."

At least one person agrees. “Causecast goes right to the heart of this problem by providing a solution that employee advocates can understand and use that doesn’t require IT support to execute," says Rob Enderle, principal analyst for the Enderle Group.

Despite HandsOn Network mobilizing over 30 million volunteer hours last year and VolunteerMatch's impressive list of clients, which include McDonald's and Walmart, cause marketing through online employee engagement is as new to most companies as health insurance was to them a century ago. Many large companies have yet to formalize their volunteer programs with online solutions that can compete for employees' attention like a work deadline and Facebook can.

I'm curious if Causescast and others can convince mid-sized companies with large workforces - an area of mammoth opportunity for employee engagement providers - to invest in an online volunteering platform for employees. While I'm a big believer in the power of FREE! for cause marketing, this is one area where companies will have to pay for play.

Only time will tell, but if adoption of traditional cause marketing tactics (e.g. point-of-sale, purchased or action triggered donation programs) are a bellweather for volunteering platforms it could be a long, rocky road for the folks that aim to corner America's cubicles for a cause.


Where Are All the Online Cause Marketing Solutions?

How would you like to be in my book Cause Marketing for Dummies? Here's what I'm looking for. I have a whole chapter devoted to online cause marketing. Within it, I want a section for e-tailers and other online businesses that want to partner with and raise money for causes online.

When I first outlined the section, I had a couple good ideas in mind. The first was Change Round-Up, about which I wrote gushingly a while back. Before shoppers check out online they're asked to make a donation. Online point-of-sale! But the last time I talked to the owner of Change Round-Up he said he was shuttering the business. Too bad.

The other online solution I hope to include in my book was Endorse for a Cause, about which I've also positively written. EFAC's online widget on individual web pages allows shoppers to share brands and products with their friends over Twitter and Facebook, triggering a donation to their favorite causes.

Great idea. But when I did a random search for its badge on its partners websites I didn't find any. Maybe I didn't look hard enough. But maybe EFAC is a great idea whose time has not yet arrived.

So I went back to the drawing board and looked for some online cause marketing solutions that would work for causes and companies.

I really like Beanstalk Giving, which seems to be the successor to Change Round-Up. Like the latter, Beanstalk has a web tool that allows shoppers to add a little extra, either by rounding-up their change or adding $2-$3 to their total - which then goes directly to a charity of the donor’s choice.

Another idea is Katchingle which allows you to make micropayments for online content. According to the site, you can put a Kachingle medallion on anything (e. g. site, blog, individual page, app). After a user sets up an account they can make small recurring payments wherever they see the medallion. They can also see who else is making payments. Cool.

This could be applied to online cause products. Similar to Endorse for a Cause, shoppers wouldn't have to buy the item, they could just Kachingle an environmental cause when they visit Timberland and Patagonia online.

Kachingle could also be used on nonprofit web sites for donors to make small donations when they see or read content that resonates with them. Every cause video on Youtube should have a Kachingle medallion!

The challenge is, of course, that most people have no idea what Kachingle is. I didn't until three days ago. As one author wrote last September, "A year and a half after the Internet first started buzzing about it, Kachingle hasn’t really caught on." That might be an understatement.

But I hope Kachingle and online cause marketing does catch on. An extra jingle of coins for nonprofits when so many are struggling would be a welcome sound.