Check in for a cause

By Rori Harrington Helping those in need can be a fulfilling experience, but we don’t all have the time or means to give. Social networking apps are making charitable giving easy. Whip out your iPhone or Android and build a little karma with CauseWorld. This free app marries location-based gaming with charitable giving.

With the popularity of location-based apps such as Gowalla and FourSquare, which has more than 700,000 users, CauseWorld stands to make a real difference in the world. Citi and Kraft Foods, CauseWorld’s launch sponsors, have already donated nearly $500,000 based on user donations. The app tracks donations with icons in each user’s profile, and users can earn badges.

CauseWorld members check in to up to 10 locations per day. “Karmas” are earned with each check-in. Those karmas can be donated to any of a number of charitable organizations recognized according to IRS Code Section 501(c)(3).

Sponsors donate money for the karmas and CauseWorld users decide where the money goes. Users can donate karmas to offset carbon, fight cancer, plant a tree, help educate a girl among other causes.

Users can connect CauseWorld accounts to Facebook in order to share good deeds and encourage others to participate. CauseWorld also allows users to scan products in participating stores, such as Target, for extra karmas.

Business owners who want to join CauseWorld can fill out a simple form online to allow users to check in at their location. Businesses can choose to offer special deals and discounts for CauseWorld users.

CauseWorld was launched by Shopkick in December 2009 and is available for iPhone or Android.

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