I have to admit I've been hesitant to dip my toes into location-based social networking applications like FourSquare and Gowalla. I have accounts on both and have the occasional friend who "checks in" to tell me they are at a taco joint on Silverlake or a celeb party in the Hills. But almost always these bits of unsolicited personal information tend to act as virtual boasts, with the unspoken implication that if you were cool, you'd be there too.

So far I'm not a fan. But a new partnership between FourSquare and the environmental nonprofit EarthJustice has given me a new reason to like the mobile application. Posters and signs (like the one above) were posted around San Francisco to test out a new type of fundraiser with the savvy Gen-Yers that are found in abundance in SF.

How it works: If you see one of the signs and "check in" to the location called 'EarthJustice Ad,' a company will donate $10 in your honor to the Gulf relief effort. It's an interesting way to combine the real world with the virtual world by giving the growing demographic of "slacktivists" a way to make a difference that is both fun and easy.

My prediction for 2010 ... nonprofits will find that the real/virtual mashup will be a key for nonprofits looking for a way to unlock the ADD-challenged hearts of the Millennial generation.

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