Fast Company

Double Impact Gamifies Saving The Planet, Makes Giving To Charity Free

A new online service takes your simple actions--checking in from a train, lowering your electricity bill--and monetizes them through corporate partners. Now you can give money just by being good.

Double Impact

So your brand already gives millions of dollars to charity each year, but gets little recognition for it. That has to be frustrating. At the same time, there are plenty of people who want to give to charity, but don't have the cash to spare. Doubly frustrating. Double Impact, a new social sustainability program from Formative Labs, aims to solve both of these issues--and get its users to turn off the lights when they leave the room, take public transportation, and shop at the local farmer's market, too.

The Double Impact platform, which launches today, allows users to log into Facebook, complete simple tasks, and be rewarded with so-called Impact Points that can be used to donate big companies' cash to the charity of their choice. The tasks come in four different varieties: education (i.e. quizzes that can be completed on the site), check-ins (Double Impact automatically processes Facebook check-ins, so it knows when users visit the farmer's market or take the train), purchases (i.e. using a discount from a branded partner), and daily actions (the service can tap into your monthly electricity bill if given permission).

There is also a social and competitive aspect--users can compare Impact Points and electricity use with friends. "Energy and sustainability are problems for consumers that really lend themselves to social and gamelike mechanics. The effects are so far out into the future, it's not satisfying enough for people, " Jessica Alter, CEO of Formative Labs, tells Fast Company. "We take information about [these problems] and make it a more social, fun, and motivating experience."

So far, Double Impact has partnered with a handful of charities--the WWF, Pesticide Action Network, Breast Cancer Awareness, and Healthy Child, Healthy World--as well as brands, including Earthbound Farm and HappyFamily. These brands can team up with Double Impact to offer money for charity where users can see it.

West Coast utility PG&E, for example, is already the 57th biggest charitable giver in the U.S. Partnering with Double Impact to fund a charity could be a more worthwhile replacement for a website announcement or press release that few people see.

Double Impact hopes to make money from these branded partnerships--but Alter emphasizes that the company will not take money that would otherwise go to its charities. Instead, companies will pay Double Impact for their assistance in getting exposure and building engagement with consumers. "We've gotten a lot of excitement from brands who are already giving but don't get a lot of credit for it," says Alter. And who knows--maybe the opportunity to take the spotlight will encourage even more companies to start giving big bucks to charity.

Reach Ariel Schwartz via Twitter or email.

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