I used Foursquare to drive traffic to our VISTA (Volunteers In Service To America) Coffeehouse each day of the National Conference on Volunteering in Service Conference in New York last month. I like the ideas in this article for even more robust and strategic usage of Foursquare for non-profits.

Amplify’d from mashable.com

Foursquare (Foursquare) isn’t just a good place to find cheap Mocha-Frappuccino’s. The social media tool is quickly allowing for new ways to benefit a range of fields, including non-profit organizations.

There have been several articles on how non-profits are using Foursquare, but I wanted to find out how his location-based social network can help non-profits, so I chatted with experts about how non-profits can maximize their Foursquare accounts.

“Non-profits are about awareness, they want to get as many people to understand what they are doing,” Foursquare Co-Founder Naveen Selvaduari said. “Foursquare is a great platform for that, and bringing people together, and make it easier together for them to understand.”

The Standard Stuff

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Having a location-based non-profit will obviously help you get the most out of a Foursquare account. Make sure you claim your location and then create specials that appeal to your audience.

“Location based non-profits have an easier road, since they can offer specials and other incentives on Foursquare,” said Chris Thompson, author of the About Foursquare blog. “In Cincinnati, the Taft Museum of Art uses Foursquare as a loyalty program, offering increasing rewards as guests return again and again. The fifth check-in gets a free dessert, the 10th earns a free membership and the 15th gets a free poster or museum guidebook. It’s a great, easy way for the Taft to increase repeat visits.”

Your account can also help you find and mobilize a base of willing volunteers and donors. “There are also other organizations like hospitals and small advocacy groups who can leverage Foursquare,” said Allyson Kapin, founder of Women Who Tech and editor of Care2’s Frogloop blog. “…Big Love Little Hearts, an organization which helps children in developing countries with heart defects, raised $25K in just 24 hours by getting a donor to contribute $1 when someone checked in or tweeted using the hashtag #100by100. The money raised was enough to pay for 12 heart surgeries.”

Leverage the API

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Perhaps one Foursquare’s greatest assets is its unique, open API. Developers can be deployed to create new ways to check-in, allow data mining and unique application creation to visualize foot-traffic at a location.

“Using our API, anyone can go in create a unique effort,” said Foursquare’s Selvadurai. “Shelley Bernstein from the Brooklyn Museum pulled data from the API to highlight the people that come to the museum and started keeping track of all the mayors. The museum announces the new mayor when it changes. They host special mayor parties, and have turned it into an event, a token ceremony.”

Read more at mashable.com