How Non-Profits Are Using LBS to Promote Awareness — And Spur Donations

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Although location-based services are most often used in marketing campaigns designed to drive profits, they are also becoming quite important in the non-profit realm as well. Charitable organizations have begun introducing LBS related to their cause, promoting awareness while providing useful information for those suffering from various illnesses — and potentially setting the stage for increased giving.

Assisting Those in Need
The Alzheimer’s Foundation of America (AFA) has taken the first step into the LBS industry by introducing a revolutionary tracking device designed for Alzheimer’s patients. The AFA has paired up with Michigan-based mobile company Breadcrumb LLC to develop the “Breadcrumb BC300 GPS Locating Device,” the first Alzheimer’s-specific tracking device on the market. A lightweight device that straps around an individual’s ankle enables caregivers to track the wearer’s real-time location via a Google map. Through the construction of a  geo-fenced area around the wearer’s home or care center, the device can send alerts to up to five caregivers when the wearer is outside of the designated zone. The device costs under $1.50 a day to use and offers reassurance to worried caregivers that their loved ones will remain safe.

The Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of Canada (CCFC) has adapted LBS into a smartphone application assisting those who suffer from inflammatory bowel disease. Available on the Android and iPhone, the app “Can’t Wait” uses GPS signals to identify the user’s location and compile a map and list view of all the public bathrooms within their proximity. CCFC Marketing and Communications Manager Jacqueline Waldorf explains that the vast majority of those living with Crohn’s disease or colitis experience difficulty in accessing bathrooms, and often limit potential experiences because of this lack of bathroom accessibility. This app is designed to quickly and efficiently provide users with bathroom locations when they literally can’t wait.

Creating Charity Awareness
Non-profit organizations such as the AFA and the CCFC have utilized LBS to benefit those living with the illnesses that their organization represents. One smartphone app, Vinspired, introduces a unique way for individuals to get involved in their local communities and support non-profit organizations. The app is designated for youth throughout England aged 14-25, offering them access to a variety of volunteer positions from over 550 organizations. Users simply enter their postcode into the app and a list of nearby opportunities are pinpointed onto a map. Users can click on the pin to gain further information about both the organization as well as the various volunteer positions available within it. The app not only promotes charitable and nonprofit organizations within England, but also encourages youth to take an active role in their community and get involved.

Lastly, let’s not forget about the money.  None of these charities could exist without the financial support of the communities they serve.  To help that process along, many are turning to location-based technology.

The 2012 Obama campaign recently announced that they will be accepting donations via mobile payments start-up Square.  Similarly, the Salvation Army, known worldwide for there Christmas kettle campaigns, decided to test the very same technology by arming bell ringers this past season with Android smartphones equipped with the Square card reader, so they could process credit card donations in at over 40 locations.  We can expect even more of this in the year to come.

The bottom line is that it has become evident that location-based marketing is not strictly for retailers and large corporations — charities and non-profit organizations are increasing their presence in this fast-moving industry. Now get out there and support them!

Asif R. Khan is a veteran tech start-up, business development and marketing entrepreneur currently serving the community as founder and president of the Location Based Marketing Association (The LBMA). Weekly podcaster at This Week In Location Based Marketing every Monday. Can be found at @AsifRKhan @TheLBMA on Twitter.

Image courtesy of Flickr user St_A_Sh.