Toshiba celebrates women in tech: Inspiring the next generation of retail

At the inaugural Toshiba RISE – Retail Innovation & Shopper Expertise – Symposium, business and industry leaders gathered to celebrate inspirational women in digital and retail technology.

Brands have to evolve from short-term, legacy thinking and take bold steps to bridge the gap between physical and digital worlds to connect with today’s customers.

This was the consensus of the one-day symposium on January 16, 2016, in New York City that focused on the challenges facing the retail industry and the wave of rapid advances across technologies that are changing all aspects of the shopper experience. The research, tips, insights and jokes flew through the air and landed in the ears of marketers and retail experts, as well as Toshiba representatives visiting from Japan. The discussions and noteworthy female keynote speakers were relevant, thought provoking and sharp – it was all one could do not to marvel at the brilliant minds (women and men, of course) gathered together in one room.

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The following panel sessions and fireside chats spanned various topics, and turned into healthy, sometimes lively, conversations, each of which could’ve carried on much longer than the time allowed:

  • Bridging the Gap Between Digital and Physical Worlds for Consumer Connection
  • Inside the C-Suite: A look behind the curtain at current business challenges and decision making processes
  • Post Holiday 2015 Retail Recap, Asia and 2016 Retail Outlook
  • How Data and Communications are the Real Drivers Behind Successful Innovation and Customer Experience
  • At the Intersection of Health, Wellness and Shopper Experience
  • Disruptors and How They Are Shaping the Future of Retail
  • Female Founders Starting Up
  • Good Business is Doing Good

 

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Here’s what we learned and our top key takeaways from the day:

The new currency is data.

  • Collect customer data and preferences and act on customers’ purchase history to tailor shopping experiences over time. Allow shoppers to quickly discover and buy products anywhere they encounter them.
  • There are lots of silos in traditional retailing – share the data and close the loop to include operations to make the retail execution work.
  • Watch out: One person may behave differently depending on mission. We don’t want to get so prescriptive that we’re denying the customer an authentic experience (i.e., don’t put them in a box with predictive analytics).

 

Personalize the retail experience.

  • Smartphones are equalizers for emerging and established brands to disrupt the market. Connect with the customer on an emotional level and add value so it’s more than a superficial offering. But sometimes we get blinded by the shiny tools around us – take a deep breath, stay calm and focus on the customer.
  • Let’s not forget the importance of sales staff, a.k.a. the frontlines of your brand. If you take care of your employees, they’ll take care of your customers. Build loyalty and passion within your company by enabling one-on-one relationships between customers and staff and provide selling tools that empower staff to act on the preferences of shoppers to deliver more personalized service and experiences.

 

rise3Respect the “New Independents.”

  • Most Americans are single, and they’re changing the economy. For the first time in U.S. history, over 50% of the population is single.
  • Sharon Love, CEO of TPN, enlightened the room, referring to the “single American” demographic as a new opportunity, appealing to an untapped buying power. Being a single consumer means more spending in self-rewarding categories; celebrating, shopping, going out and staying home (think Oprah and less Bridget Jones).
  • Marketing should reflect the changing dynamic of the modern American family; i.e., single parents, same-sex parents and families of friends (e.g., Sprint’s “Framily” campaign).

 

How can we drive future innovation?

  • rise4Don’t let legacy thinking and processes hold you back. Completely rethink the problem to drive real innovation rather than incremental improvements.
  • Create diverse teams. Keynote speaker Sallie Krawcheck, CEO and co-founder of Ellevest, had an “a-ha” life moment: The power of diversity is diversity. Based on her extensive experience working on Wall Street, Sallie shared the benefits of breaking free frm a group think mentality and building strong teams through diversity of thought, personality, gender, age, etc.
  • The balance between bricks and clicks. Customers want frictionless experiences, from mobile to in-store to online to everything-in-between. Traditionally, the shopper journey to purchase is linear; however, today’s customer no longer goes shopping – they are always shopping.

 

At the end of the day, we left feeling full to the brim with inspiring information and excited by all of the intelligent, insightful female voices we got to hear from. Whether in-store or on-line, retail continues to be an exciting, personal, effective frontier by which we can engage with consumers.

 

For more on the “New Independents,” check out:

http://www.tpnwhitepapers.com

http://crresearch.com/blog/new-independents

 

It’s Been a Mad March 2015, Baby!

As 2015 March Madness draws to close tonight with the championship game facing off Duke and Wisconsin, we’ve seen pretty much all brackets busted, gametime excitement around the players, the underdogs and the upsets, and more promotions than swooshes of the basketball. With that in mind, let’s take at a look at how some of the NCAA partnership brands got into the action this year.

Burger King’s 2 for $5 with Seth Davis and Kenny Smith

On the heels of its Watch Like A King 2014 campaign, NCAA Corporate Sponsor Burger King is back with a value bundle, two premium sandwiches for $5. Guests can mix and match their favorite premium sandwiches including the new Spicy Big Fish Sandwich, BIG KING Sandwich, Big Fish Sandwich, Original Chicken Sandwich and the YUMBO Hot Ham & Cheese Sandwich all for $5. The value play is getting buzz thanks to supportive TV spots with sports analysts Seth Davis and Kenny Smith. Nothing like bringing in the experts to add some authenticity to the messaging. Word is Burger King will also be part of the experience at the 2015 Final Four by bringing fans autograph opportunities with sports legends, along with free rides in Burger King-branded cars.

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Put REESE’S In Your Starting Lineup

REESE’S is at it again this year, keeping it’s perfect combination of peanut butter and chocolate top of mind with shoppers, with its Put Reese’s In Your Starting Lineup! Facebook promotion. This simple, but engaging promotion, encourages you to create a lineup of your favorite REESE’S candies for a chance to win free product. REESE’S is highly engaged with the NCAA as a corporate sponsor and incredibly visible throughout the tournament with advertising and brand highlights. The brand has also taken to social media to keep engagement going as the excitement of the tournament builds. In addition to presence at the Final Four Friday, REESE’S is a sponsor of the NCAA College All-Star game, which took place Final Four weekend and aired April 5 on CBS. Through its GoReeses.com, REESE’S has created a hub for gameday recipes and its NCAA promotions.

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REESE’S SnackTalk at WalMart

As part of its retailer specific executions this year, REESE’S brought the Snack Talk to Walmart, encouraging REESE’s fans to submit photos of their favorite REESE’s game day recipes during March, with finalists announced at the REESE’S NCAA College All-Star game this past weekend. Viewers were encouraged to vote via Twitter for their favorite to be crowned the winner. Erin @DelightfulEMade was deemed the REESE’s Snack Talk Champion and got to have her recipe featured on air.

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Buffalo Wild Wings #WingWisdom

As the Official Hangout of March Madness, Buffalo Wild Wings debuted its #WingWisdom with a fully-integrated campaign across television, social, digital, in-store and on-site Final Four experiences. From ads starring Steve Rannazzisi (“The League”) to “Basketball Wisdom” studio segments on CBS Sports and TBS Sports to an online Tournament Tracker to engaging in conversations about the tournament and providing shareable invites via social media, Buffalo Wild Wings’s omnichannel approach was keeping its brand top of mind with consumers in a sea of restaurants vying for share. In particular, the brand kept the engagement alive with fans by encouraging them to compete for “B-Dubs Baller” status in restaurant with skill-based games and bracket challenges — guests who participated could compete for over 1000 prizes, including a trip to next year’s Final Four.

TPN at the 3% Conference 2014

Did you know that though women constitute 73% of consumer purchasing power and control $20 trillion of the world’s annual consumer spending, women make up only a small percentage of the Creative Directors in advertising? The 3% Conference, whose mission is to “build the business case for diversity by championing female creative talent and leadership by offering content, community and professional development,” is taking this disconnect head-on. The premise behind this conference began when founder Kat Gordan discovered that at the time, women made up only 3% of Creative Directors in advertising.

This number comes from a 2008 dissertation by Kasey Windels, then a graduate student at the University of Texas at Austin. In “Proportional Representation and Regulatory Focus: The Case for Cohorts among Female Creatives” and her subsequent conference paper, “An Exploration into the Representation of Female Creatives in Today’s Advertising Agencies,” Ms. Windels painstakingly checked the gender of award winners in the 1984, 1994 and 2004 Advertising Annuals of Communications Arts. She found just 3.6% of Creative Directors were female.

Nine years after the initial study, the 3% Conference decided to take a look at the 2013 Communications Arts Advertising issue and found that the percentage of women Creative Directors had increased to 11.5%, a increase of 319%. According to the report, the increase could possibly be attributed to more women CDs entering the competition and to an increased awareness of the women-centric marketplace, making judges more likely to award work with a female sensibility, though it can not be confirmed. The report also stresses that more formal measurements are not currently available because the Bureau of Labor Statistics does not measure Creative Director as a job title, meaning essentially the industry doesn’t have any other way of determining a benchmark and agencies must be aware of their own stats.

All that to say, the 3% Conference is about empowering women creatives to take leadership roles, championing the women creatives around them and being cognizant that the work we’re producing presents women in a truthful, respectful manner. This year, TPN sent Sr. Creative Director Kaytee Miller, Art Director Amanda Elsbree and myself to represent at this conference. After two days of hearing amazing speakers and panels in addition to networking with agencies from all over the country, my co-workers and I left the conference so inspired and motivated. Here are a few of the highlights of the top speakers (for more in-depth coverage of the conference sessions, go to 3percentconf.com to check out their blog and videos).

The Essence of the Modern Leader is More Feminine

John Gerzema, social strategist and author, argued just that during his presentation: “64,000 People Can’t be Wrong” at the 3% Conference. In his book, The Athena Doctrine: How Women (and the Men Who Think Like Them) Will Rule the Future, he introduces the idea of a new era of leadership heavily based on feminist values.  He obtained a vast amount of data, (both qualitative and quantitative), through 64,000 interviews he conducted with people from different communities and organizational structures all over the world, in which he found that we’re in a new world with many old minds. The common thread in his research was that the essence of a modern leader is more feminine than masculine. In fact, Gerzema went on to state, “Feminist values are the operating system of the 21st century.” What exactly are feminist values?

  • Connectedness
  • Patience
  • Empathy (A TPN value!)
  • Candor (Vulnerability as Strength)

But what does this mean? In essence, Gerzema, surmises that this new era of leadership capitalizes on qualities like flexibility, creativity, morality, loyalty, collaboration, passion, happiness, etc. And though these are traditionally viewed as feminine, they are first and foremost human, that each of us possess regardless of gender. Ultimately, these qualities are something to celebrate and embrace as our world is shifting and societies become less and less rigid.

Play BIG

As the keynote speaker, Tara Mohr gave an incredible presentation related to her book Play Big. When this career and life coach surveyed women about what was holding them back in their overall happiness, the overwhelming response to her multiple choice question was playing it small. By playing it small, women are essentially copping out on their dreams and in order to play big, women have to make a shift by being more loyal to their dreams than to their fears.

Mohr stressed that to make that change, women have to “unhook” from praise and criticism and avoid that hook to begin with. When we’re hooked, women tend to avoid controversy and innovation. As such, women need to:

  • Flip the feedback. Listen with curiosity and determine how you can use their feedback to grow your relationships with this person  whether it’s a boss, a client, or a spouse.
  • Understand that all substantive work brings criticism. Remember that we aren’t being graded and that all meaningful work will be criticized in our workplace and that isn’t personal.
  • Look inward and find the matchup. Evaluate the criticism. And find out why it bothers and where that fear originates.
  • Work on your inner mentor. Use that inner voice to bolster your confidence and champion on your outer voice, so your opinion, beliefs and position can be heard.

Only then, does a sense of freedom and opportunity come once one is no longer shackled to the need for praise and approval.

Die EMPTY

As the first speaker of Day 2, Todd Henry immediately grabbed the conference’s attention with this remark. What is the most expensive land in the world? Is it the Middle East oil fields? No. Is it the diamond mines in Africa? No. It’s the graveyard, where all the unexplored ideas, innovations and creative thoughts that never came to fruition are buried. That is why we should all strive to Die Empty, leaving our best work on the table every day, because we’re not guaranteed an infinite tomorrows. In his talk, Henry identified what we need to do as creative problem solvers to stay productive, focused and engaged. MEDIOCRITY is the enemy. Because being prolific, brilliant and healthy is good for business, and it’s good for us. And that there really isn’t a worklife balance but that we have to find rhythm through (staying FRESH):

  1. Focus – define the work and the attention needed
  2. Relationships – we need people to challenge us
  3. Energy – bring the emotional labor to your work, prune as needed
  4. Stimuli – define your stimulus list and understand what drives you
  5. Hours – build time in for unnecessary creating

Mediocrity doesn’t just happen, but is chosen over time. So don’t die with your best work inside you. Push it all out and die with every idea out there. And remember, cover bands don’t change the world.

Make 2015 a Year of Change

Cindy Gallop, Founder and CEO of IfWeRanTheWorld, invigorated the closing talk with these actions to take, and charged us each with making 2015 not the 2015 we expect it to be.

  • Say what you really think. Do it and don’t hold back. If nobody speaks up, then nothing changes. You’re at the table for a reason. Don’t deprive the work by waiting for validation. Don’t hold back out of fear because more than likely, what we fear will not happen. So don’t be incapacitated by an illusion.
  • Communication through demonstration. Do diversity. She gave this example. When asked to be the guest editor for The Drum’s October issue, Gallop agreed with three conditions. She insisted on being paid, she insisted that the issue be about “New Creativity,” and lastly, all the content had to by and about women, without marketing it as a special women’s issue.
  • Light bulb it up. Make sure to bring attention when women are bring positive results in your agency and when you notice a lack of women representation.

 

Marketing at the World Cup

Just 48 hours until one of the greatest sporting events in the world kicks off: the FIFA World Cup. I’m looking forward to seeing how marketers are leveraging the World Cup fandom, utilizing the marks they own or being creative on leveraging the fan’s passion for the game if they don’t have rights to the marks. It seems like during every World Cup, a brand gets aggressive and tries to ambush the event. In 2010, a Dutch Beer maker had 36 beautiful women dressed provocatively in the brand’s signature colors walk around the various venues in South Africa during the matches. Thereby infringing on rights that Budweiser has, not only in venue, but with anything even remotely associated with soccer in that country for the length of the tournament.  FIFA caught wind of it and promptly threw them all out of every venue. I wonder which brand will try to ambush in Brazil.

In the U.S., the worry will be use of the team marks in order for a brand to drive that affinity around the national teams. In 2010, Verizon used an actor wearing a green soccer jersey in many of their Hispanic TV spots. This made AT&T (The Mexican National Team sponsor) contact SUM, who manages the U.S. rights for MNT, and try to force Verizon to pull the ads. AT&T was livid, and they had every right to be. They have been a loyal supporter of the team for years, but you can’t blame Verizon for trying to be creative.

It will be fascinating to see how the brands use this next month. Soccer, which has historically been a “Hispanic” sport for brands in the U.S., will become more popular with mainstream America. Even the casual sports fans will be captivated by the allure of Brazil as the backdrop, the favorable match times, and a U.S. team which will face some very tough, high-profile, competition in the first two weeks.  What will happen if/when the U.S. and Mexican teams fall? What will happen if civil unrest in Brazil mars the Cup? Will marketers pull back? Are brands hitching their message to the national teams, the game of soccer, or the Cup? It will all be captivating. There is a lot of marketing dollars tied to the World Cup, and I can’t wait to see which marketers make those most of this once-every-four-year investment.

Bill Simon, President & CEO of Walmart U.S., Shares His Story

Today, the TPN Bentonville office attended the Benton County Single Parent Scholarship Fund luncheon. Bill Simon, President & CEO of Walmart U.S., spoke at the event. Instead of speaking about how Walmart and the Walmart Foundation give back by supporting the Single Parent Scholarship Fund, it was a much more personal speech.

Mr. Simon was very real and down to earth. He discussed his upbringing in a single parent household with four siblings. His mother never graduated from college, and she did any odd job she could to help support the family. She instilled in her children the value and importance of an education, that being average or being exceptional is a choice, and the importance of giving back. Because of this, Mr. Simon, along with three of his siblings, all graduated from college. Two of them even went on to receive their Master’s degrees. While Bill’s mother never got the chance to earn her own college degree, she believed she earned six- thanks to her children’s accomplishments.

Besides gaining an appreciation for Mr. Simon and his personal story, we were reminded that while Walmart may have its share of detractors, they do give back to the communities in which they serve. Mr. Simon specifically mentioned the $4 prescription program, which he helped implement, as well as the emphasis and importance Walmart places on helping the community – illustrated through their everyday low prices, the practice of hiring veterans and associates without college degrees, and making it easier to shop with one-stop convenience.

Games, Guardians, and Grumpy Cat @ Toy Fair 2014!

The 112th annual American International Toy Fair came together in New York Feb. 15th – 20th, with more than 1,000 exhibiting manufacturers, distributors, importers and sales agents from around the globe to showcasing their toy and entertainment products. Among the big trends happening in the coming year are hot “mature”  TV shows, such as Sons of Anarchy, Game of Thrones, and The Walking Dead, supplanting movies as the buzz-worthy toy licenses.

Another ongoing trend is “Boys Toys for Girls”, following the publicity garnered by GoldieBlox last year, many manufacturers are taking traditional boys’ toys such as building blocks and combat weapons and putting a female spin on them to allow your daughters’ entry in the neighborhood Hunger Games reenactments. And we’re always happy to see Grumpy Cat, even if she doesn’t seem particularly thrilled to see us. Check out all this and much more in our recap video tour of Toy Fair 2014!

Valentine’s Day Gets a Facelift

Millennials, described as “confident, connected and open to change” by PewResearch, are living up to their characteristics according to TPN’s Seasonal Pulse New Year 2014 study.

Among all generations, millennials are the most likely group to “change it up” this Valentine’s Day. Thirty percent of millennials are planning to celebrate the romantic holiday differently than last year (see graph below), providing a huge opportunity for marketers to influence their plans – especially if millennials are trying to impress a new special someone.

Further, 21 percent of millennials plan to stay home and cook a special meal this Valentine’s Day. As notorious foodies who are always online, millennials will be hunting down new meal inspirations across social media and the web. Grocery retailers and online brands should be targeting this generation as they plan for their night in.

While 29 percent of millennials do plan on going out for a meal, those staying in, including myself, won’t have to make a last-minute reservation or spend an arm and a leg on food. Maybe it’s me, but I think millennials may be on to something.

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Source: TPN Seasonal Pulse, New Year 2014

For more information regarding TPN and our Seasonal Pulse findings, please visit www.tpnretail.com.

Retail and the Weather: An Ice Story

This Fall season has been one to remember. Here in Dallas, like in many parts of the country, we experienced a severe ice storm last week that pretty much put the brakes on everything. Though we’re a big city, we’re not equipped to deal with not only the initial snow/sleet fall but the subsequent refreezing as temperatures stayed in the freezing range for the next week. And as luck would have it, this ice storm occurred during an already shortened Christmas shopping season. All this got me thinking, what are retailers and brands to do when Mother Nature throws a wrench into the busiest shopping season of the year? Here are my top five recommendations to retailers and brands for not getting blindsided by unexpected weather.

Be Prepared (Online)

Weather happens, from snow and ice to unforgiving heat waves and everything in between. In Dallas, it seems like we get one good pummeling snow/ice storm about every three years or so (just my personal estimation). Before this most recent storm, the last one happened the week Dallas was hosting the Super Bowl and that was a doosy. All that to say, weather is bound to happen sometime/somewhere, so retailers and brands should be prepared with how their products can remain strong when it does hit. Like any other day, your website is up, running, easily accessible via mobile and checkout is easy (where applicable). A no-brainer here, but confirm with your providers that weather will not or should not interrupt your web service. Aside from the basics of web site functionality, the easiest thing, in my opinion, is to be prepared with web content, which is especially helpful for all those potential customers stuck at home surfing the web. For example, a home improvement store chain could create self-help videos that instruct the proper method for shoveling snow or for removing fallen tree limbs. A fashion brand could create a pinterest board with the best snow apparel that its target audience could use to feel inspired during a time that normally leaves us all looking like overstuffed marshmallow men. A food brand could post comfort food recipes using ingredients found in the pantry mixed with their products. A major retailer could have a social media weather plan in place to allow it to quickly adapt with a consistent hashtag across messaging and be on the forefront of the conversation. All in all, it’s a way to preemptively think about how your store or brand can still be productive online in spite of the weather.

Be Prepared (In Store)

Luckily, with events like snow storms, we usually can see them coming thanks to all of the newfangled meteorological technology at society’s disposal. As such, retailers can be proactive in the ways they react to such news in store. For larger retailers, this may be easier said than done because it takes a lot of energy and time to shift the sails of such a large “ship.” That’s when I say you should empower your boots on the ground to help make the calls for their area. Have a protocol in place for not only taking care of your employees in the area impacted but a plan for how they can keep the lead office informed and adapt the store to the needs of shoppers. Maybe for a grocery chain, it could be switching out a front display containing Christmas day meal solutions to one that’s driven with bread and batteries or push coolers up front for milk.  Or it’s creating an impromptu storm bundle offer that combines necessities like food with fun activities like books and magazines, which not only help shopper Mom feed her family but could keep them entertained, even if they lose power. Perhaps a clothing retailer puts its cold weather clothes, coats and accessories in their strategic selling spots and empowers employees to push these items at checkout as pre-storm basket builders. But again, don’t forget the basics, like having rock salt on hand to put at your store entrance should it ice over and proper mats for wiping off icy boots so as to avoid slip-and-falls.

Be Insightful

Being able to target your shoppers is key at any stage in this retail game, but it can be even more important when you add weather to the mix. This not only means being prepared with content but having the capabilities to push it to the right shoppers and when with geotargeting. I know I’ve been getting anywhere from one to three emails a day from certain retailers keeping me updated on the latest sales in store during this busy shopping season. By adding an additional level of geotargeting to these emails, retailers, large and small, could help to keep their shoppers engaged and informed. Whether it’s pushing an email to promote a pre-storm bundle along with their store hours or sending a text message to shoppers to let them know “We’re Open!”, getting this granular with your shoppers lets them know your store or brand is coping with the weather as well. I saw small businesses doing this really well during our Dallas ice storm, from email to social, by clearly communicating with their shoppers so as to advise as well as to gauge demand. Bigger brands and retailers can do this too, with the help of geotargeting.

Be Aware

This season is not only the busiest for many brands and retailers but for their shipping partners as well, which is why is so important for brands and retailers to be aware of how shipments may be impacted due to the weather. With the possibility of shoppers being stuck at home and doing more shopping online than they had originally planned, the number of shipments required escalates quite rapidly even while shipping centers are dealing with the same undriveable  roads and shortage of staff that everyone else is dealing with. Shipments can ultimately be delayed and perhaps, even lost, in the additional traffic. Shoppers may be lenient to a certain degree, but they still want to receive what they’ve paid for and before Christmas, if it was well within the time period for Christmas shipping. So be aware of regional delays that could ultimately impact your shoppers’ experience and be on top of how this should be managed. While it’s never ideal for a package to be late or never arrive, empower your customer service team to use this “opportunity” to give your shoppers the best experience possible and build loyalty. Have a plan in place for dealing with packages delayed by weather and if time is of the essence for the customer (ex. it’s a gift ordered for a charity that has a deadline for submission), have a protocol in place for either reshipping or refunding their purchase so the shopper can choose the best option for their situation. As a brand or retailer, you can only control so much when it comes to the shipping process, but having the right attitude and approach when shipping mishaps happen due to widespread weather will turn a negative into a positive.

Be Human

It’s the weather and it’s beyond all of our control. We are all human. When a severe weather situation occurs, a brand or retailer should be showing their shoppers they are human, too. For this to be successful, it all needs to be done genuinely and with absolute authenticity, or else it comes across as opportunist. The success in this again lies with the boots on the ground, your store employees, to know what kind of outreach is appropriate, needed and can be addressed. During this last storm, I saw news stories about employees from a home improvement chain making rounds in neighborhoods helping people take care of fallen trees. A chain movie theater that offers dining and movies, knowing that the neighborhood behind one of its theaters did not have power, offered warm soup, coffee and free movies to those local residents who could walk to the theater. Just simple acts of kindness go a long way. Empower your employees and brand ambassadors to be human during these times, in store, online and out in the community and I have no doubt your shoppers will remember the kindness.

So let’s discuss. What retailers and brands have managed weather snafus really well? Who rose to the occasion?

Photo: Associated Press

Giving Back on the Go

Last week, TPN participated in its Annual Day of Service by volunteering at food banks across the nation.  The Chicago team worked together to unpack, rebag and repack 2,000 pounds of Corn Flakes at the Greater Chicago Food Depository.  It provided a break from the office and gave us a chance to do something different for the day.

It also reminded me how tough it is to make time to volunteer consistently throughout the year, outside of our TPN-dedicated days of service.

So I took it upon myself to look into some online and mobile solutions for those of us who want to give back, but may not have the time:

Snoball

Snoball “turns any action into a donation,” by using the power of social media to raise money for nonprofits.  By connecting Snoball to your Facebook, Foursquare or fantasy sports apps, it “empowers individuals to seamlessly integrate giving with living.”

I personally use this program, and each time I check into a restaurant on Foursquare, it donates a dollar to my selected nonprofit.  I also have a monthly limit on how much money I’ll give (I’m a bit of a Foursquare addict and can’t afford a dollar for every check-in).

FreeRice

Owned by the United Nations World Food Programme, Freerice.com has two goals: 1. Providing education to everyone for free, and 2. Helping to end hunger by providing free rice to hungry people for free.

Simply visit the website and answer educational trivia questions.  For each question you get right, 10 grains of rice are donated to the hungry.  It’s literally that simple.  Monetary support comes from sponsors who advertise on the website.

Charity Miles

Charity Miles, like FreeRice, uses corporate partners to support its cause of allowing users to “earn money and raise awareness for charities by walking, running or biking.”

The app not only tracks activity as any other running app, but users have the power to choose which charity they will run for.  Walkers and runners earn $0.25 per mile and bikers earn $0.10 per mile.