Best Group-Buying Site for Your Cause Marketing Program - dummies

Best Group-Buying Site for Your Cause Marketing Program

By Joe Waters, Joanna MacDonald

Cause marketing and companies and causes can use group-buying sites to raise money and build awareness. But, not all group-buying sites are created equal or are suitable for your cause marketing program. Use these criteria when choosing one:

  • Look for a site that allows you to run customized deals. Most group-buying sites solicit businesses to offer discounts, which is great and you can probably take advantage of this feature, but you’re a cause marketer, and you can land your own deals.

    You just need the right group-buying platform to bring commerce and cause together. Say that you’re working with a restaurant that wants to help you raise money through a group buying program. What you really need is a service that allows you to offer the deal and maybe keep track of purchases and help with distribution.

  • You want a group-buying site that you can regularly access — not one that picks you or one that votes you in. This site is part of your cause marketing business plan, not a one-off.

  • Ideally, the group-buying site allows you access to a variety of consumer databases to maximize outreach. It’s great that you can use your own database, but wouldn’t it be even better if the site had its own list of potential buyers to e-mail?

So what’s the best group-buying site that fits these three important criteria?

Groupon and Living Social don’t. They manage the deals from businesses. Causes are treated like businesses, which means they usually only get one shot at the daily deal. It works (or doesn’t), and then it’s on to the next deal. Finally, the deal goes out to their databases, which is admittedly very large, but you can’t use more targeted e-mail lists that might be better suited for your organization.

That might explain why Austin-based nonprofit Lights. Camera. Help, which worked with Groupon in late 2010, raised only $150. The deal was to donate $5, $10, or $25 to the charity so that it could provide video training to five area nonprofits. Groupon’s database didn’t do the job, at least in this instance. Another one may have, but it’s not an option.

Washington, D.C.-based Deals for Deeds is a hybrid of many different types of deal buying sites. It’s like Groupon and Living Social in that it has a real deal with a retailer that is appealing to discount seekers, but it always has a cause component. As you can see from the following illustration, the nonprofit is featured as the top of the deal of the day.

The featured nonprofit receives a percentage of the money from each purchase. But you have the same problem here as with Groupon and Living Social: You don’t control the group-buying platform. You’re a passenger, not a captain steering the ship.


However, one group-buying site does meet all three criteria: GoodTwo.