Foursquare: 8 Ideas for Nonprofits | npENGAGE

Foursquare: 8 Ideas for Nonprofits

By on Nov 4, 2010


What’s Foursquare you ask?

Our very own Margo Anderson recently asked Are Nonprofits Ready to Play Foursquare. You can check that post out to get more detail, but for now let’s just say it’s a web application that people use to let their friends know where they are.

Foursquare.comYou just “check in” to a restaurant, gas station, movie theatre, etc. and your friends can see (and be notified) of what you’re up to. Sounds simple I know, but it’s so much more – You just have to dig.

Co-founder Dennis Crowley puts it this way:

Foursquare tries to reward you for doing things in the real world…  discovering new places, doing interesting things, meeting new friends… they all unlock points and badges.”

“I think Foursquare found some kind of sweet spot between the intersection of social utility (Hey, I know where my friends are), sharing/oversharing (I log everywhere I go/everything I do) and gaming/rewards (every check-in gives you a little piece of candy).”

Foursquare has an addictive quality to it – Making it sticky, but the real draw for nonprofits is in the location and preference information being gathered on your constituents (or potential constituents).

We’ve discussed Using the Social Web to Make Local Impact, but Foursquare takes this to another level. Think about making hyper-local impact by using the web to help drive the engagement you are looking for.  

Here are some ideas for you … 

8 Ideas for Nonprofits using Foursquare

  1. Take advantage of the game built into Foursquare by creating a custom badge that’s branded for your organization
  2. Give points/badges to people for specific types of check-in’s (e.g. If I were an organization like the American Heart Association I could come up with a way to give points to people for checking into locations that were “heart healthy”)
  3. Integrate with Foursquare by pulling their data into your primary database of record – building an even more holistic view of your constituents by adding the location and preference data from Foursquare
  4. Build an application using the Foursquare API (e.g. A Google maps, Twitter and Foursquare mashup that show’s where your event participants are checking in on a map and what they’re  talking about)
  5. Create a custom “leader board” to display on site at an event you are holding (e.g. A 3 day walk)
  6. Partner with local venues (restaurants, sports bars, coffee shops, athletic stores, gym’s, yoga studios, etc…) and incentivizing your event participants to check-in to those establishments. Checking in XX times to a business that supports your cause could earn the supporter a discount or special office (Joe Waters has some great thoughts about using Foursquare for Cause Marketing)
  7. Track volunteering efforts. A person could check in at a local foodbank and you could have that data pushed back to your CRM which could then be used to track volunteer engagement (e.g. Joe Smith checked into foodbank Y 27 times for a total of 27 hours served)
  8. Create a custom mobile phone app for the iPhone, Droid, Blackberry, etc… using their API (Mobile is where the future is in case you’re trying to figure out what to invest in)

To get a better idea of what this new app is all about check out their overview page.


What do you think? Is using Foursquare worth it? Is there any value in the ideas presented above? Do you have any additional thoughts? Or examples of what you’ve seen being done already?


Frank Barry, formerly worked at Blackbaud helping nonprofits use the Internet for digital communication, social media, and fundraising. He’s worked with a diverse group of organizations including LIVESTRONG, United Methodist Church, American Heart Association, Big Brothers Big Sisters, ChildFund Int’l, InTouch Ministries, Heifer Int’l, University of Notre Dame and University of Richmond. Along with writing for industry publications like Mashable and Social Media Today, Frank facilitates discussions, presents solo sessions and organizes panels for industry conferences such as NTC, SXSW, BBCon and numerous others. When he’s out and about he enjoys talking to interesting people about how they are changing the world – check out his interviews. Say Hi on Twitter – @franswaa or Google+

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