Causes is one of the most popular Facebook Applications, with over 300,000 active users. The service, which leverages virality to spread the word about worthy causes, aggregates 40,000 causes that benefit 13,000 nonprofits worldwide. In many ways, it’s a pyramid scheme for good.
Now founders Sean Parker and Joe Green are leveraging another phenomenon to increase participation even further: virtual gifts. Facebook has been selling them since February this year. A number of unofficial virtual gift applications created by third parties have also launched on Facebook. Clearly, they are here to stay. Facebook says 24 million of them have been given away through the official application alone (although many of them were free).
But now you can give a gift that says a little more than “I spent a dollar on you.” With Gifts from Causes, you can give a $10 – $200 gift to a friend. Each virtual gift (see image below) benefits a different charity. 100% of the proceeds (minus only credit card fees) go directly to the charity.
$10 gives two blankets to people in a disaster area. Or one insecticide-treaded bed net to a child in Africa to fight Malaria. Or a soccer ball to a poor child. etc. So the next time you want to send your boyfriend a rose, think about spending $15 instead and sending him a teddy bear. In the real world, a sick child will receive a real teddy bear, thanks to your generosity.