“Tyler’s iPod Fought Poverty in Africa”

Image: Beth Kanter via socialentrepreneurship.change.org

Location-based cell phone applications such as Foursquare, Gowalla and Loopt are all the rage right now. For the tech-savvy philanthropist, CauseWorld is the name of the game.

Its tagline states that it is “the first mobile application that lets you do good deeds simply by walking into a store.”

Nathaniel Whittemore on how it works: “checking in” at certain retail locations earns you Karma points, which can be converted to cash and donated to one of nine causes, including food for the impoverished, water in Sudan and microfinance organizations such as BRAC and ACCION.

You don’t even have to buy anything at the stores, but once you’re there, it is not unlikely that you will make a purchase.

Citi and Kraft Foods invested an initial $500,000 in the venture—half of which has already been donated. Their initial success is creating a lot of buzz in the tech startup crowd: Citi increased funding to $700,000, and Procter and Gamble joined the game, giving players karma points when they scan the barcodes of, say, diapers or acne prevention cream.

CauseWorld’s web homepage features a live activity feed: “Lee helped at-risk girls,” “Eric Gave clean water,” “Marie Provided disaster relief for Chile,” “Tyler’s Ipod Fought poverty in Africa.”

In order to gain maximum insight, we downloaded the app—available for both iPhone and Android platforms—and were delighted to find several participating establishments—Lotus Lounge, Juice Joint Cafe and Saxby’s Coffee—around our office near McPherson Square in Washington, DC.

Would you like some Karma with your coffee?

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