Have you checked out checking in?

When you’re out and about, with your smart phone of course, you can share and save the places you visit with Foursquare. It’s a free mobile and web application that 20 Million people worldwide are now using to get personalized dinner recommendations from their friends and others at restaurants, deals at local businesses and exclusive coupons.

The future of business is all about location, location, location.

But can Foursquare be used for social good too?

Sure it can. Here’s how:

#1 Create awareness in your community

Make your organization’s location a destination on Foursquare. How often do you hear that people have walked or driven by your location for years and had no idea about all the awesome things you do?

Here’s a chance to provide some details about who you are and the good you do! It’s also a great opportunity to provide a forum for others to leave comments.

With Foursquare, people are the search engines! Help them find and find out about you. You can add advocacy alerts to let people who are nearby know that you are looking to recruit volunteers, about current needs you may have, service you offer or campaigns you may be running.

#2 Promote and enhance opportunities to help

Like other social media sites, your staff, volunteers and key supporters can create Foursquare accounts too. They can leave comments, tips, share their experiences and encourage the local community to engage with your organization.

Simple messages that are locally relevant will work best. Letting the people you serve know about the hours you are open, the nearest bus stop and how and when they can help can be simple and easy.

If appropriate, having the people you serve leave recommendations, tips and comments will greatly add to the engagement and credibility of your organization as well.

#3 Challenge local businesses to get involved

It’s likely that the local café has a number of check ins on Foursquare whether they are aware of it or not. Savvy businesses are not only keeping track of the comments on Foursquare to improve and grow their business, but they are also using the service to reward their best customers.

Why not partner with your local café and ask them to make a donation for every 100 people that check in? You can then promote the business and it’s support of your organization providing free feel-good advertising for them and driving donation for your cause. It’s win-win situation with little risk and a great deal of upside.

Finding creative ways to engage your local business community will benefit both local business and the community. It can also introduce you and your organization to new people and new opportunities.

#4 Educate your constituents

Often people can live their entire lives in a community and not know about problems that exist and opportunities to help.

Foursquare is a great tool to engage and communicate with constituents about local issues.

If your organization assists animals, why not leave a message for those that check in at the local trails or Dog Park with some tips on caring for your pet? For local food banks quick messages about the needs of your community at the local super market may remind people to pick up a jar of peanut butter and drop it into the donation bin as part of their regular grocery shopping.

Remember, don’t solicit, educate!

Taking the time to find and create teachable moments tied to location is a great exercise in local community engagement.

#5 Support your allies

You can’t do it all yourself. Your organization is more than likely partnering with other not-for-profits or charities to help coordinate resource and efforts to tackle larger challenges. Supporting your allies by giving their amazing work a shout out or simply checking in at their locations and leaving comments, tips and promoting their events will help create buzz that for them which in turn will help you.

#6 Monitor and learn

People might be checking in and engaging with your organization on Foursquare already. Simply monitoring comments, feedback and engaging with users will provide you with lots of opportunities to improve your services and communications with donors, volunteers and community.

#7 Let people show their support!

Why not create a custom badge that people who support your organization can unlock and display on their own Foursquare accounts? Rewarding your best supporters with recognition will only encourage their continued involvement and will also help build your brand!