Cause Network: Northern Virginia Start-Up Creates A Marketplace For Giving
By, Meredith Jenkins
Are you a socially conscious consumer? According to a 2012 report issued by Nielsen, the consumer research giant, socially conscious consumers are “those who expressed willingness to pay extra for products and services from companies that have implemented programs to give back to society.” Even if you’ve never applied this label to yourself, if you’re reading this article, I bet you are.
The Rise of Socially Conscious Consumerism
According to the 2012 Nielsen study, two thirds (66%) of world’s consumers are socially conscious and 63% of those consumers are under the age of 40. Moreover, socially conscious consumers prefer to work for (62%), invest in (59%) and pay extra for products and services from (46%) socially conscious companies. Before the financial crisis, about 28% of Americans purchased a product that supported a cause every year. Last year, 47% of Americans bought a product that supported a cause every month.
This trend is particularly strong within the LGBTQ community. 71% of LGBTQ consumers will remain loyal to a brand that is LGBTQ-friendly, even if that brand is more expensive or less convenient. In fact, 23% of LGBTQ consumers have switched brands in the past year because a competitor openly supported of the LGBTQ community. Boasting an $884 billion purchasing power, the socially conscious consumer tendencies of this lucrative demographic cannot be ignored, particularly in our post-marriage equality society (marriage equality will add an estimated $72.5 million per year to Virginia’s wedding industry).
CauseNetwork’s “Marketplace for Giving”
With the powerful rise of socially conscious consumerism, a new McLean, Virginia-based start-up called CauseNetwork has created a unique mobile app and online “marketplace for giving” that allows causes, companies and consumers to interact through one seamless platform.
Causes that joins CauseNetwork get their very own FREE branded mobile app and online marketplace that includes over 1,000 national brands, such as Amazon, Target, WalMart, Best Buy and Priceline. Causes can even send users in-app messages, updates and important information, helping cut costs on marketing, communication and fundraising efforts. Participating causes simply encourage their supporters to use the CauseNetwork marketplace for their everyday shopping needs.
Companies can build strong reputations among socially conscious consumers and create personal connections with local buyers through cause marketing. Even small businesses can become sponsors by placing offers and coupons in CauseNetwork’s “marketplace for giving.”
Individual consumers can donate money to the cause of their choice simply by doing their everyday shopping through CauseNetwork. Consumers simply need to create an account, log in online or through the mobile app and select a cause that is important to them. Once the consumer selects a cause, they then can click on one of the participating retailers and start shopping just as they normally would. When consumers make a purchase, up to 10% of the purchase price goes directly to their hand-picked cause. Since the app has all the latest offers from retailers, consumers save money and can feel good about shopping knowing that a portion of every purchase directly supports a social cause that is important to them.
A Real Life Example of How CauseNetwork Works
Say you want an argyle scarf this winter and you know that the one you want is on sale for $19.99 on Amazon. Let’s also say that you are partial to causes that support environmental conservation efforts. CauseNetwork lets you be a socially conscious consumer with no extra effort or cost. Simply download the CauseNetwork app and click on a cause that supports conservation (like the National Audubon Society). Now it’s time to start shopping! From the CauseNetwork app, click the link to Amazon and buy that scarf that’s on sale through Amazon’s regular check-out process. Because you purchased the scarf through CauseNetwork’s online marketplace, you got the same great deal and 5% of your purchase price (about $1) is automatically donated to the National Audubon Society. You get a cute scarf at the best price and your hand-picked cause gets a buck. Score!
CauseNetwork Aims to Help Causes by Changing Consumers’ Shopping Behavior
People might be confused with how this all works because they think of donations as being extra money out of their pocket. To be clear, CauseNetwork is not a donation site. It is a platform where people shop just as they normally would, getting the same great online prices and deals. CauseNetwork gets a commission or advertising fee for their business/traffic (to cover administrative costs) and donates the majority of that revenue to the cause of your choice. You shop, they give. As co-founder Mike Rowen says, “It’s just an easy way for us to all do something that has a big impact on what matters to us personally at no extra cost.”
CauseNetwork’s President, Clay Buckley, notes, “There are lots of people that want to support their cause, but don’t have wherewithal to write another check. But they are willing to change their online shopping behavior to benefit a cause they support. In that sense, CauseNetwork reconnects causes with their supporters in a brand new way.”
Although the mobile app just launched last September, over 150 causes have already signed up. Causes do not necessarily need to be charities to join CauseNetwork’s marketplace. However, participating organizations must demonstrate that their mission supports a social cause.*
Shop Like It Matters
If you are a socially conscious consumer who wants to get the best deals while supporting your favorite cause, you might want to consider joining CauseNetwork’s “marketplace for giving.” It’s free, easy to use and can make a positive impact on a cause that is specifically important to you. Through CauseNetwork’s unique platform, you can finally shop like it matters.
*Q Virginia is CauseNetwork’s first LGBTQ cause. As Virginia’s LGBTQ Media CompanyÔ, our free printed publication and digital platforms aim to promote equality through storytelling at no cost to our readers.
Back row : Mike Rowen (founder), Glen Gulyas (founder), Clay Buckley (president), David Pippin, Andrew Clark.
Front row: Aileen Northern, Mary O’Donnell, Diane Clifford.