Social Media Networks

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Groupon’s Philanthropic Initiative

Many charities have realized the value of social media in their potential for constructing relationships with investors and the general public. Social media mediums provide effective opportunities for campaigning through raising awareness of causes, engaging support and lobbying for positive change. One of the most necessary factors for creating change is funding, and social media is an effective way to raise the fiscal means needed for charities. People become committed to fundraisers if they find themselves emotionally connected, and social media gives the chance to communicate with supporters to construct an emotional bond.

Groupon, a popular online group-discount site, features deals for local and national companies daily. Since their launch in November of 2008, Groupon has become the largest group-buying and daily-deal website with over 41 million active customers. However, the company doesn’t solely offer deals on popular activities and restaurants. Groupon has ventured into the realm of social change with its various philanthropic campaigns.

Groupon’s first program intended to create a positive impact on the world was titled G-Team. The program was founded after combining the two factors that originally created the site: group action and the online fundraising platform called The Point. Utilizing G-Team, Groupon followers could create fundraisers and campaigns using the site’s crowd sourcing model. One successful charitable fundraising campaign by G-Team raised $1000 for a local bike cooperative to fix 100 broken bikes that were donated to disadvantaged youths. Employing the idea that a social media site’s popularity can help raise more money for nonprofits, G-Team encouraged Groupon users to donate money to aid selected charities. The G-Team project was a success, so on Earth Day 2012 G-Team relaunched as Groupon Grassroots.

grassroots_two_black and green logo

Groupon Grassroots is the nonprofit section of Groupon described as “a new way to discover local causes, rally together, and lend a helping hand.” Grassroots operates with three main principles: helping people find a cause, advancing collective action through an online community, and supporting local projects and initiatives. Summarizing these principles, the Grassroots Mission statement says that “Groupon Grassroots activates citizenship and fosters neighborhood advancement through the world’s commerce operating system.” They do so by showcasing a variety of community projects people can support, utilizing collective action to power the campaign they feature by connecting supporters to accomplish goals, and offering the ability to support projects that will directly affect personal communities. Local nonprofits are encouraged to apply online with specific projects or campaigns which Groupon Grassroots then goes through to create effective campaigns.

Some of their featured campaigns include:

  • May 2010’s fundraiser teaming up with By becoming Groupon’s featured daily deal, garnered close to 1,500 donations. This raised over $162,000 dollars in support of classrooms in need.
  • Pepsi matched up to $250,000 in donations for Feeding America, a network of food banks and distribution agencies that provide nutritious meals to Americans struggling with hunger. This campaign helped the organization provide 11,897 families of four with two weeks worth of food.
  • Chiquita Banana matched up to $25,000 in donations for The Cure Starts Now, an organization that supports efforts to find a cure for pediatric brain cancer through expansive fundraising and awareness efforts alongside providing services for those who have the condition. The foundation gave Monkey in My Chair kits to 731 pediatric cancer patients as a result.
  • The Chicago Community Trust matched all donations for The Chicago Community Trust’s Unity Challenge 2011, a campaign launched in December 2008 that has helped to deliver more than 3.4 million pounds of food to needy families in Chicago. The two-day Groupon offer brought in $2,340 from 180 donors for the Chicago Community Trust’s efforts to combat hunger, and those donations were watched by the trust to grant $4,860 to the Northern Illinois Food Bank.


I personally participated in Groupon’s Big Dogs Huge Paws offer by donating $10 to Big Dogs Huge Paws, an organization that provides food for dogs living in foster homes as they prepare for adoption. Since the Grassroots campaign raised $440, the organization provided 10 giant-breed dogs in foster care with food for one month and another dog with food for a month.

The incredible reach of social media in regards to positive change can effectively be seen through Groupon’s philanthropic campaigns. In total, 674 campaigns since Groupon’s launch of G-Team in July 2010 have raised more than $3-million from about 100,000 supporters. Overall, Groupon campaigns have the ability to connect followers with enough people to accomplish goals that would seem insurmountable alone.


Further Reading:

“Group Buying for Social Good: 7 Sites Using Daily Deals to Give Back” by Frank Barry

“Groupon IPO to Value Deal Site at $15 Billion The Hottest Start-Up Around Started as a Do-Gooding Site” by Alex Goldmark



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