Tapping into Online Markets for Charity


I’ve been working with a Crowdtap, a social branding and marketing website, for over a year now. I signed up as a member early into the beta testing, and I’ve been pleasantly surprised by my experience along the way. Crowdtap serves as an intermediary between big brands like Old Navy, Woolite, McCormick, etc. and the consumer by providing a forum for online surveys, marketing ideas, and product testing.

The incentive for the consumer/member is a point system – earned points can be redeemed for online gift certificates, tshirts, and other prizes. Early on, however, Crowdtap implemented a charity component. When I first signed up, 5% of all monies earned were donated to a charity of my choosing (in my case Support Wildlife, but others have opted for the American Red Cross, Austism Speaks, To Write Love on Her Arms, and others).

For me, this was a very exciting model – it appealed to younger people with a strong online presence but also the coupon-cutting stay at home moms who participate in the site. Suddenly Crowdtap offered a platform for fundraising that didn’t involve backend work by the charity. Supporters pick their cause and get to work. Recent changes to the website’s structure actually allow people to donate additional earned funds to the charity of their choice – an exciting opportunity for a family who may not have the funds to write a cash donation.

With alternative business models creeping up – think Toms shoes and Soap Hope – charities have to adapt and embrace alternative fundraising facets to maximize branding and donations. Online donation mechanisms like Philanthropr, Crowdtap, Kiva and others start to make philanthropy more interactive and easier for the donor, but it means abandoning the traditional development strategies nonprofits have relied on in the past.

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