Donate to a Cause When You Pay with Your Smartphone

Massachusetts-based SCVNGR said last week that its mobile payment service, LevelUp, will allow users to donate their loyalty credits to one of five charities. Loyalty credits are what you earn when you use Levelup at a participating business. For example, if you spend $40 at a restaurant and use LevelUp to pay you could earn a $5 credit for your next visit. Now, you can use part or all of that credit to support a cause.

I've written about LevelUp before. I'm rooting for the home team, but with Square (which recently inked a partnership with Starbucks), Paypal and others competing in the same space, I'm unsure who will be the winner in the mobile payment wars. Still, LevelUp's efforts to connect cash with cause demonstrate how seamlessly charity will fit in the coming mobile wallet.

Here's how you can donate to a cause on LevelUp.

After you you open the LevelUp app, you click on settings.

After you click on Donate to a Cause When You Save, you'll choose a cause to support.

The final step is to select the percentage of your loyalty credit that you want to donate.

Now, each time I use LevelUp and earn loyalty credits 25 percent will go to Feeding America.

What do you think of LevelUp's new feature? While connecting payment vehicles - such as credit cards - to giving isn't a new idea, tying it in with a mobile payment system makes it easier than ever to give to a cause on what will one day the primary way shoppers pay for purchases.

Happy New Year, Cause Marketing! Love, SCVNGR

Starting yesterday in Times Square Massachusetts-based SCVNGR teamed up with teen clothing retailer American Eagle on a New Year’s program aiming to raise money for Big Brothers Big Sisters.

This location-based cause marketing program asks consumers to complete challenges on SCVNGR to raise cash for BBBS. Such challenges include “2010 was…” and players are asked to describe their year, “Spot the Eagle,” which asks them to snap a picture with the eagle on the Times Square billboard and “What’s your resolution,” which asks for 2011 resolutions.

After you complete a challenge, American Eagle donates five bucks to BBBS, which SCVNGR will match.

This is a great test for SCVNGR at the epicenter of location-land, New York City. Times Square has been a test tube for other LBS experiments, and American Eagle is a natural as it woos teens and young adults.

Outside of major cities and social media conferences, LBS seems to be progressing slowly, especially for cause marketing.

I'd love to hear of more examples location-based cause marketing if you have them! I'm dedicating a whole chapter in Cause Marketing for Dummies to LBCM and I'm determined to make it a useful resource to you!

On a separate note, Mike Schneider and Aaron Strout are writing Location-Based Marketing for Dummies and looking for great examples of businesses using Foursquare, Gowalla, SCVNGR and other services.

Keep your eyes peeled and Mike, Aaron and me in mind!