How to use Foursquare and Gowalla at your nonprofit

Has your nonprofit considered what it can do with location-based social networks, like Gowalla and Foursquare? At a glance, these sites seem to be driven only toward tracking your friends, but there are several ways these apps can be used to help raise awareness for your cause:

  • Find people who check in when they attend an event or visit your office. You’ve already connected with people through your website, Facebook pages, Twitter and more, but wouldn’t it be wonderful to see who is checking into your events or at your office? You can find guests and thank them for spreading the word!
  • Increase attendance at your events by finding those who already frequent your venue. You are planning a wonderful event at a local spot. You’ve already let your Twitter, Facebook, and e-mail fans know about it. Now check in with Foursquare and Gowalla to see who already frequents your venue. Reaching out to the people who already enjoy the location by leaving a “tip” about your event within Foursquare or Gowalla, so you can find more people to support your event.
  • What if your nonprofit IS a venue (ex: museum)? Find your mayor: the person who checks in at your venue most frequently. Thank them publicly, perhaps at an event, on your website, or in your newsletter. This is an opportunity to make real and genuine connections with your fans.
  • Create a scavenger hunt. A scavenger hunt is a great way to engage your fans, helping them get to know your community and your cause. Get your social-media-savvy fans to check in at various pre-determined locations with Foursquare, Gowalla or SCVNGR (an app designed for scavenger hunts). Get creative and think of riddles to lead teams to the next location, all with the goal of raising awareness and doing small acts of community service along the way.
  • Reward your fans! By using Gowalla and Foursquare as described above, you can generate a list of people who are passionate to engage with your nonprofit outside of social media. Then it’s time to reward them for spreading the word about your cause. How about a free raffle ticket to your next fundraiser, or waiving the entrance fee to your 5k walk?

Get creative! These tools can help your organization raise awareness, get publicity and connect with your fans.

Has your nonprofit had success with these tools? Post your experiences in the comments!

Kellyn is a summer intern at Small Act.