This past month, we've talked quite a bit about causes. Earlier this month, we discussed how Movember has added a twist to the traditional pledge-based charity, and also how social is becoming increasingly important to causes. With the plethora of charitable organizations out there, it's apparent that innovation will become an integral element to acquire funds for your cause. Let's check out some interesting examples: CauseCart CauseCart is a bit of a play on the traditional 'portion of the proceeds'? idea by creating a network of giving. It's simple for both brands and consumers. Users simply install the plugin into their Chrome or Firefox browser, and then CauseCart communicates with the online shop to direct them to give a small percentage of the purchase to a cause/charity of the user's choice. Though still in its infancy, CauseCart has already secured a number of big name commerce and charitable organizations in its network like Amazon.com and charity: water. LevelUp We've loved LevelUp at AMP since it first came out (it doesn't help that there are about a dozen spots within walking distance of our office that accept it for payment). It's a pretty simple concept. Download the app, link a credit card, scan a personalized QR Code at checkout as your payment, and receive rewards and discounts when you reach certain spending levels. It's a simple loyalty program that rewards you for going back to the places you like. What many people may not know about LevelUp is their charity platform. In the app's settings, there is a feature which allows you to assign a % of your savings towards a charity of your choice. CrowdTilt Crowd funding is by no means a new or novel concept; however, sites like Kickstarter and IndieGogo make it tough on charitable initiatives. While Kickstarter doesn't allow for charitable projects altogether IndieGogo doesn't offer tax-deductible donations ' both issues creating problems for causes looking to generate funds quickly, similar to what we recently saw with Hurricane Sandy efforts. In comes CrowdTilt. Earlier this month, they started offering tax-deductible options for non-profits which makes it the 'first crowdfunding site to fully support charity fundraising.'? Instead How many articles have you read that tell you how much you can save just by forgoing your daily latte? Instead takes that same idea but instead (get it?) of putting that money towards a new pair of Manolo Blahniks (those are a thing, right?), they donate that money to a worthy cause (not to say that your shoe 'hobby'? isn't worthy). According to its developers, Instead is a 'micro-donation app for non-profits that encourages people to live within or below their means in order to give.'? The app is pretty easy ' just pick something you want to give up (like a coffee for instance), pick how much you want to give (usually the price of that coffee), and then pick a non-profit to give it to. The app then takes you to a secure site where your donation is processed and you have the option to share your donation via your social channels so that your friends will know how swell of a person you are. So, what do these things all have in common? Ease. It's apparent that people are more than willing to donate to causes, but often they are overwhelmed with the process or the sheer number of options out there. If you can cut down any of those barriers, you're chances of succeeding will increase exponentially.
As an avid sports fan, I'd be remiss to write about anything other than what I'll be watching tonight ' the 80th MLB All-Star game. The MLB has long been a leader when it comes to celebrating their All Stars. For most leagues, All-Star weekend has become hyper-commercialized exhibitions that often celebrate the egos of its stars. But for the 15 million or so MLB fans who usually tune in, this one counts for something. This year the league is truly tapping into the idea of community. Instead of mimicking the NBA's sponsorship-saturated All-Star weekend , the MLB and the game's sponsors are completely focused on charity work and philanthropy. And while this idea of giving back to the community through sports sponsorships is not a new one, the MLB is making sure these activities are relevant to the fans and the city that is hosting this exhibition. By supporting local causes, these brands will rise in favor among those in the communities benefitting from the efforts and the local baseball fans who will take pride in what hosting this event means to St. Louis. Sponsors "are going to help us leave St. Louis in a better way than we found it," said John Brody, senior vice president of corporate sales and marketing at Major League Baseball. "We don't want people to feel like this is just a big corporate event. We believe in this time that we need to answer the call to service." The authenticity of the efforts will be the key to success with these sponsorships. Some of the sponsors will be donating money to local causes, while others are putting on free concerts and donating their time during the festivities. This philanthropic theme is especially important during tough economic times. With 8.8% of the St. Louis workforce currently unemployed, the money going toward the Boys & Girls clubs and area food banks will not only tell a good PR story but make a deep connection with area fans. After last night's home run derby, we already saw over $500,000 donated to the Boys & Girls Clubs by State Farm through its 'gold ball'? promotion. Here are a few other examples of this year's sponsorships: PepsiCo ' Hosting a free Sheryl Crow concert with donations raised for cancer research Anheuser-Busch Foundation ' Donating $180,000 going to help finish a baseball field at Herbert Hoover Boys & Girls Club in north St. Louis. Bank of America - $5,000 for every hit in the All-Star Game is going to area food banks. This is on top of matching fans' contributions to FeedingAmerica.org Holiday Inn - $37,500 to kids' charities Other sponsors - Help with recycling, greeting and escorting fans at the concert and other events Prince Fielder's performance last night helped a young girl bring home $50,000 for her local Boys & Girls Club to build a teen center. Source: McWilliams, Jeremiah. "All Star Philanthropy." St. Louis Post-Dispatch 10 July 2009. 13 July 2009 . Image Source: David Klutho/Sports Illustrated