Dec 192010
Image representing CauseWorld as depicted in C...
Image via CrunchBase

In a holiday giving season ruled by economic uncertainty, it’s tempting to skip the charity bin this year. But what if you could contribute to the cause just by shopping?

Turns out shoppers can now give to charity without actually giving, with check-in applications likeFoursquare, Gowalla, Loopt and the latest major player to join the ranks, Facebook Places. The applications allow users to broadcast their locations using their mobile devices.

For example, each time someone checks in to a Hard Rock Cafe in the United States using Facebook Places, Hard Rock International donates a dollar to WhyHunger, a charity fighting global poverty and hunger. The effort continues through the end of the month, or up to $100,000.

Bill Ayres, a talk radio host who is executive director and a founder of WhyHunger, said the development was an exciting for charities like his.

“This promotion signifies a new direction for organizations like ours to embrace social technologies and reach a wider audience with an easy way to get involved and give back,” he said.

Charity apps are nothing new. But the concept of giving with no money from the user has only recently built steam. The idea takes its cue from CauseWorld, which began around this time last year. Users check in to common shops and grocery stores to earn “karma” points, which are later donated to dozens of select charities of the user’s choice, like the National Breast Cancer Foundation or the American Red Cross. Sponsors like Kraft, Citi and Proctor & Gamble match the karma with money.

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