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March 16, 2010; Advertising Age | Most charity donations from product manufacturers require you to make a purchase with the understanding that a portion of the proceeds will be given to a worthy cause. But how about simply earning money for charity by looking at a product?

While it sounds gimmicky that’s exactly what an iPhone application from CauseWorld will soon let consumers do.  According to Advertising Age, CauseWorld currently lets users earn “karmas” that turn into donations to charities every time they use their phone to indicate they’ve walked into a certain store. Later they can choose from a list of which charities will receive the cash value of their karmas.

Soon when people pick up products such as Pampers, Tide, Gilette or Tampax and use their iPhone to scan the barcode they’ll earn even more karmas.  So far Citibank and Kraft Foods have funded the retail “check-in” part of the program with $850,000 for donations, and both, along with Procter & Gamble will be adding more money to support product scanning.

What’s in it for the companies funding this effort?  While the program has proven successful getting people into stores, marketers are hoping that by getting them to take a look at products, they might then decide to buy something before they leave.  Still, those who choose just to scan their products in exchange for a donation shouldn’t feel too bad if they tell the clerk, that they’re “just looking.”—Bruce Trachtenberg

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