Win-win relationships are hard to come by in business or in life—but Gary Allhusen just might have something promising.
The Cornell graduate spent much of his career in management consulting before moving on to the startup world, assisting in the launches of several private companies. His latest project, Communities for Cause, aims to simultaneously benefit both companies and community organizations.
It’s called “cause marketing,” and Communities for Cause is a prime example of this community driven marketing strategy. The idea is simple in concept: private companies and non-profit organizations share resources and information that mutually benefit one another. With Communities for Cause, Allhusen has taken it a step further, by integrating smartphone technology to create seamless financial partnerships between companies and relevant non-profits.
Communities for Cause is a mobile phone app that lets local businesses donate a percentage of every sale to local non-profit organizations—and in return, businesses in turn are promoted by the non-profits with online product placement in the app. It’s currently gaining traction in Southern California, according to Allhusen, and he expects its popularity to expand rapidly in coming years.
“Cause marketing has seen exponential growth over the past five years, mainly on the national brand level,” Allhusen told Feretesh Forough of Womens Annex. “Local merchants don’t have the resources or time to invest in these partnerships with large non-profits or schools, but it’s amazing how much they donate.”
With this untapped potential for sustainable philanthropy and over half of all cell phone users owning a smartphone, Allhusen saw an opportunity for an organizational networking tool that puts the power in the busy hands of consumers. “Have a meal, buy a blouse, register the transaction right on the smartphone, and then see how much is donated back to the cause you’re signed up with. It has real promise,” Allhusen said.
Even beyond U.S. borders, the Communities for Cause platform has the potential to create meaningful social change in developing nations. Currently, Nepalese residents in California are linking the app to The Chahari Project (a non-profit supporting education for orphans in Nepal) is using the platform to fundraise. Allhusen expects the technology to be used similarly for education in Afghanistan in particular, where existing initiatives like Womens Annex are already working to expand educational opportunity for marginalized groups.
“There could be communities of Afghans spread around the United States that could be on the platform, using the platform, raising money for the causes that are most important to them back home,” said Allhusen.
As technology enables organizations to utilize cause marketing instantly and interactively, this “untapped” market should see rapid growth—with Communities for Cause leading the way into an era of seamless, borderless fundraising.