“Imagine … an App Store for benevolence”

I’ve been thinking about something. With the disaster in Japan we’ve seen an incredible outpouring of charity. At last count over a hundred countries have pledged support along with a multitude of charities. And the Japanese situation only exemplifies  a current trend. One of the hottest marketing discussions coming into 2011 is cause marketing. We see it everywhere. It’s vogue to give.

But I to want to raise a question.  Do disasters actually do a disservice to the causes cause marketing normally support? With a catastrophe of the magnitude in Japan and the resulting media coverage … is it taking away from other smaller, but worthy causes? What about all these small causes that don’t get the attention that the Red Cross and its efforts in Japan get? They may get some initial publicity, and maybe that will give their cause some legs – but with Japan on the stage, there isn’t enough light for anything else. Will the donating public get cause fatigue and forget these lesser charitable siblings?

Charity App Store

I gave my daughter, Alex, a donation of twenty dollars in her name to buy homeless teenagers sleeping bags. It was her favorite Christmas present. She’d been through the “down times” with me – when a tent and a sleeping bag was our home, so it was very relevant. I got lucky and found the charity on the Huffington Post. But it a fleeting moment. I can’t for the life of me find it now. How many other little causes, great causes that “hit home” with certain people are there out there. But how do you find them? There are web sites that include a few causes together, but they’re mainly just working their own projects. I’m not saying that bad … it just is what it is.

Now arguably the most revolutionary business model to arrive the last few years has been Apple’s App Store. You have thousands of independent software developers churning out hundreds of thousands of apps. Look at the activity it’s spurred. Upon Apple’s approval, anybody can post their app and hope it becomes the next Angry Birds.

If you want to add to iPhone’s repertoire, log onto the App Store and download to your heart’s desire. Everything is in one place. No need to load your browser with bookmarks. No needs to Google for something you don’t even know exists. You can just go into App Store and browse, browse like I used to do in record stores – serendipitously finding my next favorite band.

Why can’t we have an app store for causes. Let’s call it the CauseStore. We’ll have an open call for anyone that has a cause. We’ll include existing organizations as well as new ones. It’s not just to get causes up and going like 33needs. It’s about keeping them going – providing that one stop shopping site for benevolence. Some of them may not even want money … but rather volunteer labor or expertise. And we’ll set up a committee to do vetting – to make sure everyone’s legit.

We’ll make it “cause superstore.” When someone’s in the giving mood they’ll go to the CauseStore. It’ll be the first place people go to when they look for gifts for friends and relatives.

You can’t fault me for dreaming. I may not have found it … but I still believe there’s a “Perfect World” out there. Maybe this can be part of it. God knows, the world needs all the help it can get.

If anyone has any ideas or implementation suggestions … please throw them down in the comments. Let’s get a discussion going. Don’t be shy 🙂


And if you like this … please Tweet it and follow me on Twitter @clayforsberg


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One thought on ““Imagine … an App Store for benevolence”

  1. I like the idea, Clay! I think having a dedicated section within Apple’s App Store for causes would be great. I think what we need to address first is Apple’s policy about apps through which we can make donations, which it currently has issues with. It seems like any app store would need a vehicle for donating to causes as well. Any thing less would be a little causes-lite.


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