Interactive cause marketing firm in/PACT launched its new mobile app Vouch during Upload Charleston, DIG SOUTH’s opening event for its interactive festival. Vouch connects businesses to the community through a new concept the company calls “people-empowered giving.”
The new app empowers customers to use their smartphones to collect contributions from local businesses and then select from a database of charities, both in the local community and across the nation.
A national launch is slated for later this year following its introduction to Charleston. It is also being brought to market with a unique partnership with the nonprofit student group Enactus from the College of Charleston.
“Technology today offers new ways for businesses to connect with their customers and for people to connect with the causes they care about the most,” said John McNeel, CEO of in/ PACT. “Vouch brings both of these trends together in an easy to use mobile app, and we are bringing it to market through an innovative business partnership with students.”
For the Charleston launch, the student group was responsible for — as a full-fledged business partner — developing the marketing materials and bringing Vouch to local merchants and local causes.
“I think Vouch opens up a host of opportunities for people of our generation to feel engaged with companies and causes, in a way that has never been possible before,” said Shannon Caulk, president of the college’s Enactus chapter. “Vouch lets us make a positive impact in our community, and it lets us see that growth over time. Its a win-win situation for businesses, people, and the causes they support.”
As an advertising platform in itself, businesses subscribe monthly to appear on Vouch, and have the option to customize their profiles and messages that users see. The platform promises businesses increased engagement, brand loyalty, and above all brings back a sense of purpose to everyday purchases.
By pledging a certain amount that represents their contribution “pool,” businesses give their customers the opportunity to claim a small amount in the form of a special currency, GoodCoins, which they then “vouch” to their favorite charity. The app also allows customers to consolidate all their giving through Vouch and see a cumulative picture of their contributions.
Local entrepreneur Rob Bouton said, “Vouch is a new way for our customers to give back to the charity of their choice and was a perfect fit for Queen Street Grocery. Enabling our loyal customers to participate was a no-brainer, and we look forward to continuing to donate to local charities through Vouch.”
Since the DIG SOUTH launch, the company hosted a focus group for a number of local nonprofit directors at its Digital Corridor offices. George Stevens, formerly of the Coastal Community Foundation, assembled a team for a question and answer type feedback session, in which the Enactus students also participated. Present for the Q&A were:
• Adrian Cain, Director of Development, Lowcountry Open Land Trust
• Marco Corona, Director of Development, One80Place
• Kurt Cavanaugh, Executive Director, Charleston Moves
• Cynthia Wood, Chief Operating Officer, Historic Charleston Foundation
• Larry Downey, Community Manager, Lowcountry Local First
• Graham Massell, a former Enactus student who has since graduated from College of Charleston and been brought on in a full-time Sales Outreach/Business Development position.
The launch of Vouch represents a new milestone for in/PACT, which up until now has primarily provided its interactive cause marketing solutions to Fortune 500 companies to help them cultivate meaningful engagement with their customers and employees around the causes those stakeholders care about the most.