One of the biggest barriers to supporting a cause or nonprofit can boil down to one simple factor: time. Today’s consumers are busier than ever and fitting in the simplest routine tasks can be challenging. Recognizing this, a few organizations have sought to change the very paradigm of advocacy, creating opportunities for consumers to easily infuse cause support into their daily lives, while still retaining a sense of accomplishment and community.

The trend toward “micro advocacy” – supporting a cause or nonprofit in ways that are usually small, quick and flexible – has been ramping up ever since Sparked hit the market with its innovative approach to ad-hoc, virtual volunteerism. Now, Charity Miles has made raising money for a charity as easy as going for a morning run. The new company has developed a GPS-enabled app that allows runners and walkers to contribute up to 25 cents per mile to one of nine specified nonprofit organizations – each and every run or walk becomes an opportunity for advocacy. Similarly, Saucony is racing to fight childhood obesity with its own GPS-enabled “Run4Good” iPhone app. With every mile, runners earn money for one of five community youth running programs. The program, expected to operate for the next five months, allows runners to create virtual running teams to compete together towards a monthly goal. If the overall pre-determined mileage goal is met during the month, Saucony will double its donation to the selected organization.

Running and walking certainly aren’t the only ways consumers can support causes. New Zealand-based startup Donate Your Desktop is looking to make signing on to your computer a little more rewarding. Participants simply download the Donate Your Desktop software to their computers and select the charities they wish to support. Each day, the user’s desktop background will change to a new sponsored ad with a full 75 percent of the ad revenue going to the pre-selected charity. The organization, which launched just 150 days ago, has already secured more than 176,000 donated desktops.

Finding new ways to connect consumers with causes is critical, but perhaps increasingly important is creating avenues to make supporting a cause easy and nearly effortless. While en-masse events for cause have certainly proved their value, innovative, micro solutions that allow advocates to participate on their own time or their own space, might just be the next big thing in cause.

We encourage your thoughts and comments. Continue the conversation on Twitter by using #WDYSF.

Tune in Thursday, September 13 for the VolunteerMatch Best Practice Network Webinar, “What’s the Difference? Exploring the Convergence of Cause Marketing & CSR” featuring Cone’s own EVP of Cause Branding, Craig Bida and Campbell Soup Company VP of Public Affairs and Corporate Responsibility, Dave Stangis. Register here.

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