Turning Social Buying into Community Engagement

Groupon’s Patty Huber participated in an event with NTEN today, regarding Groupon’s G-Team. Huber describes G-Team as a “core part” of the business that not only helps connect nonprofits with social buying opportunities, but that will eventually expand the company’s work to encourage community building activities beyond monetary gifts. (See my NCME colleague Jennifer MacArthur‘s great post about KQED’s recent use of Groupon.)

Groupon’s G-Team isn’t alone. CauseOn operates much like Groupon, but slides 20% of the take over to a local nonprofit – essentially creating two incentives per deal. Philanthroper has yet another model, encouraging people to give in small and frequent amounts – donations are limited to $1 per day, and the site features one 501(c)(3) per day. This model is designed to “create a culture of daily giving,” as Thomas Hughes posted today on Technology in the Arts.

The changing conversation about donation incentives and giving patterns not only makes us consider how  public media can best build sustainable practices in the digital space. It can also help us shift our thinking to the sustainability that lies in the way we convene and connect people locally. What’s most exciting about this growing social practice is the possibility of bringing communities together around an issue: essentially turning social buying into social buy-in. Huber expressed excitement about the possibilities for using Groupon to help mobilize volunteers. This could certainly be of value for public media stations that often rely on volunteer help. But let’s push further: how else could we leverage this trend to benefit the communities we serve?

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