The Washington Post

Groupon’s deals to include donations

Beginning this week, Washington area bargain hunters can get a discount on a variety of services and make a donation to charities that have taken big hits during the economic downturn.

When local Groupon members check for their daily deal starting Tuesday, they will have the option of donating $10, $25 or $50 to a foundation, which will match every dollar raised. Groupon’s fundraising and social campaign initiative, G-Team, will be partnering with the Community Foundation for the National Capital Region to raise funds for a program that assists area charities that have been struggling financially.

The foundation is estimating this giving campaign will raise $700 to $2,000, which officials say is equivalent to one small grant. Perhaps more important is the opportunity to expose the charities to the Groupon members, something they say could pay future dividends.

“We might be able to distribute hopefully $4,000, including our match, but we may have opened up the eyes of people to the organizations that we’re giving to,” said Terri Freeman, president of the Community Foundation.

The G-Team operates in 12 other markets, including Chicago, Atlanta, Boston and San Francisco. It launched in the District last month and has facilitated members’ donations to several local organizations — 300 to Miriam’s Kitchen; 104 to Young Playwrights’ Theater; 62 to So Others Might Eat; 63 to Books for America; and 164 to Elder Buddies.

Groupon, which has more than 70 million members worldwide, is slated to run about 50 campaigns this year for nonprofits in the metro region, posting new deals each week. The company, which is expecting billions of dollars in revenue this year, said it chooses organizations whose efforts are compatible with the deals offered to consumers and have a close connection to the community.

The Community Foundation is “all about mobilizing people and residents. In a lot of ways, that’s what Groupon is all about, too, so it was a natural fit there,” said Kelsey O’Neil, Groupon spokeswoman.

Groupon extended its usual three-day charity deal to five days for the Community Foundation to ensure maximum exposure.

“We don’t have a set structure for how we work the deal. It really just depends on what makes sense for that organization,” O’Neil said.

The Community Foundation is looking to give $2.5 million — $500,000 more than last year — in emergency grants through its Neighborhoods in Need fund.

Vanessa Small covers philanthropy and nonprofits for Capital Business. She also spotlights newly appointed executives in the New at the Top column, which chronicles their journeys to the top. Small was raised in Orange County, Ca. and graduated from Howard University.



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