We’re starting to see innovative uses for services like Foursquare that go beyond the basic “checkin and get a reward” model that’s so prevalent.
Last month we reported on a unique campaign sponsored by Earthjustice, a nonprofit environmental organization, who used Foursquare to encourage users to checkin when they saw various billboards scattered around the Bay Area. In return for checking in, an Earthjustice donor donated $10 for every check-in to save the American Pika – an endangered animal in the US. It was a brilliant use of new media to encourage donations, and proved very successful — early results showed over 5,700 people checked in at various billboards, resulting in over $50,000 in donations in a short period of time.
As another example of using Foursquare for a unique campaign, Urban Ministries of Durham (UMD) — a North Carolina nonprofit organization providing food, shelter and clothing to the city’s homeless — is launching a Foursquare initiative designed to raise awareness around homelessness in Durham. The nonprofit is spotlighting unusual venues such as abandoned warehouses, dumpsters and old construction sites by seeding them as Foursquare places in the downtown area of Durham. The idea is that users in neighboring areas will discover the strange venues in the “nearby places” portion of the app.
The campaign was designed to encourage Foursquare users to check in to these locations to spread awareness about UMD and its mission of homelessness prevention. The hope is to create a chain reaction, where a user checks in to a UMD-created venue and thereby exposes the venue and UMD’s cause to friends and social media contacts who also pay it forward with similar checkins.
We’ll be checking back in to see how the campaign went, as it certainly has the potential to raise awareness for UMD’s cause. Exactly how Foursquare users will respond should be interesting, especially regarding the viral aspect UMD is hoping to achieve with the campaign. Regardless, you have to applaud the forward-thinking nonprofit for making such clever use of LBS.