Twitterific Cause Marketing

Austin-based HelpAttack! wants to help you use your Twitter superpowers for good.

Sign up and pledge a certain amount per Tweet for a month to the charity of your choice. At the end of 30-days HelpAttack! tallies your Tweets and sends you a bill. Donations are processed and fulfilled through Network for Good.

HelpAttack! has nearly 6,000 charities already in place. It’s a simple matter to add yours if it isn’t already on the list. At this writing, the average pledge per Tweet is $0.28 and the average monthly pledge is about $28.

The idea for HelpAttack! germinated with Sarah Vela, the CEO who posed the classic entrepreneur’s question, what if?

“The idea came to me during last year’s Movember pledge drive,” she says. “There was a lot of activity online in the form of passionate participants asking for support from their friends. I wondered, what if all that activity were the actual donation? What if the act of being online was generating dollars for Movember? What if every Tweet were worth, say, a penny?”

Vela has been involved in social media, podcasting and content strategy for nonprofits and health care companies for more than a decade. Cofounder David J. Neff, the COO, won the American Marketing Association’s Social Media Marketer of the Year in 2009. Ehren Foss, the third cofounder and CTO, is the founder of Prelude Interactive, a web development firm, and a graduate of MIT.

HelpAttack!, a for-profit company targeting Gens-X and Y, employs the classic ‘freemium’ model. The Twitter app is totally free. The company is already producing customized pages with specialized reporting for nonprofits for a fee. HelpAttack! is actively selling to corporations as well.

“Our customers are the nonprofits and corporations that want to take advantage of our platform to reach out to and sustain relationships with younger adult donors through fund raising drives, cause marketing, matching donations, employee fund drives, and the like,” says Vela. “For a one-time fee of $25 and an ongoing payment of 4% from their donations, nonprofits will be able to have their own landing page, a link to direct people to for pledges, and the ability to download donor reports,” she says.

Facebook is next and after that HelpAttack! has its eye on the Internet as a whole.

“You will see us on Facebook within the next couple of months,” she says, “and then we have plans to extend beyond even social networks to the internet at large. If you can count it, you can pledge it. Imagine pledging RSS feeds, Home Runs, calories burned, miles or workouts logged, etc. The site itself will have a more interactive quality in terms of both community aspects and game mechanics.”

I’m not sure if HelpAttack! has its branding right, but Vela, Neff and Foss have developed an interesting niche with plenty of open field on front of them, and I wish them every success.
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