The Race Is On To Catch Foursquare - Enter CauseWorld

Geolocation apps for mobile devices are one of the rising social media trends du jour and Foursquare is the undisputed leader of the pack. But Shopkick’s latest free iPhone app, CauseWorld, delivers geolocation technology with a philanthropic twist - it allows users to make charitable contributions just by walking into stores.

Launched in December of 2009, CauseWorld works in the same way as apps like Foursquare and Gowalla. Using geolocation, the app will show the user a list of nearby participating stores. The user enters the store, checks in on their phone, and earns “karma” – no purchase necessary. “Karma” is not measured in dollar amounts, but in actual deeds. There are nine pre-defined causes, with karma costs ranging from 2-100. Supported by a $500,000 fund donated by Citi and Kraft, CauseWorld is able to take action without any paid contribution from the app user.

With so-called “microgiving” on the rise, Shopkick seems to have stepped into an open mobile niche. But can CauseWorld compete with Foursquare? Let’s take a look at how they stack up:

CauseWorld vs. Foursquare

  • Integration with Other Platforms. Both have wisely integrated with Facebook, allowing users to post their latest accomplishments in order to generate more interest but Foursquare also integrates with Twitter. Real-time updates rock – +1 Foursquare

  • Prizes vs. Donations. Foursquare users earn badges for visiting participating locations. The most frequent visitor can become a location’s “Mayor,” entitling him or her to free promotional items. CauseWorld karma-collectors are able to make increasingly more large-scale charitable contributions as their visits pile up. Giving is in – +1 CauseWorld

  • City Guide vs. Karma Guide. Foursquare serves as a neighborhood guide, showing lists of all businesses in the area. According to Michael Arrington at TechCrunch, CauseWorld lists only the businesses that offer karma. To-do lists and tips are good – +2 Foursquare

  • Competitors vs. Do-Gooders. Foursquare may attract users with a desire to compete (looking to earn Mayor-status prizes). After the thrill of the chase has ceased, these users may move on to a new challenge: a different app. With only charitable giving offered in exchange for use, CauseWorld attracts users who have a desire to “do good.” As Marijane Miller of WhatGives writes, a CauseWorld user is “potentially more likely to be converted into a regular shopper” at a store that back his or her cause and values. Doing good and potential ROI – +2 CauseWorld

Winner: ?

CauseWorld is just the first of Shopkick’s soon-to-expand repertoire of offerings. However, bloggers such as Joe Waters have begun to speculate how philanthropy and microgiving can be more consistently incorporated into the Foursquare universe. Is it idealistic to believe that CauseWorld has a fighting chance to survive in the same arena as Foursquare?

- By Emily Coogan, Former New Media Intern & Marcus Andrews, Former New Media Associate


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