Groupon Joins the Metropolitan Planning Council Placemaking Challenge

Have you heard of placemaking? Well, even if you haven’t, you may have seen the results of placemaking projects in your neighborhood. Placemaking is a grassroots movement to transform unused public areas into vibrant community spaces through lively events, art installations, gathering spots, and more. So a colorful wall mural, cafe chairs in a park, or a community BBQ could all be considered placemaking!

Screen Shot 2014-08-12 at 4.50.26 PMAs part of our commitment to local communities, Groupon is partnering with the Metropolitan Planning Council in Chicago for their 2014 placemaking challenge “Old Place New Tricks.” Groupon is currently running 19 unique Groupon Grassroots campaigns for participants in the 2014 challenge, allowing Groupon subscribers to donate to projects that range from transforming a vacant lot into Austin’s first “peace lot”, a permanent conflict-resolution space, to a bicycle-awareness event where residents can donate and purchase refurbished bikes and learn about bike safety.

Groupon employees are  getting in on the fun by transforming a vacant lot near Groupon’s River North headquarters into an art installation featuring portraits of community members. Volunteers are also constructing community ideas chalkboards that will be donated to every placemaking site.

IMG_20140811_120709999All events in the 2014 placemaking challenge are occurring during the weekend of August 15th throughout the Chicagoland area, bringing many Chicago communities together as they activate an unused space in their neighborhood. Participants are also eligible to win prizes of $1000 for their placemaking event, including the “Love Local” award sponsored by Groupon.

To learn more about placemaking visit the Metropolitan Planning Council’s website. Follow along on Saturday with #BeautifyChi to see our progress!


Groupon Engineers Hacking for Good

10550948_682256991849156_6330119962499547193_nIt seems like a few Groupon employees have seen the 1995 cult classic Hackers.

On Sunday July 27th, seven Groupon computer engineers and two representatives from DevBootCamp held a hackathon in conjunction with the 21st Century Youth Project. Groupon employees mentored 30 high school students who might not otherwise have the opportunity to get excited about computer science.

In honor of our colleague James Rapley, who was an avid cyclist and passed away last year, the “hackers” made use of the data from the Divvy Data Challenge to help the students design, plan, and code some awesome data visualization projects. Hannah Helbert from Divvy had this to say about the importance of the data challenge: “The purpose of the Divvy Data Challenge was to celebrate making all of our trip data public for the first time. It’s important because this data can reveal important information about how people utilize the system and what this means for not just Divvy, but how people travel and experience the city.”

For Groupon’s hackathon, students split into teams of 6-10 and each team had 2-3 mentors helping them come up with a visualization based on the data. After some brainstorming, the students came up with some great ideas around different visualizations, possible uses for the network, and even great ways of improving the bikes themselves.

Hacking ProjectThe following projects were selected by the teams:

  • Visualizing station usage using differently sized circles.

  • Finding out which bike record represented the RED divvy by correlating trips and twitter posts about bike sightings.

  • “Gameifying” the divvy network by offering achievements to users based on the distance traveled, number of stations visited, etc.

  • Ranking riders based on age/distance.

After the hackathon, we reached out to Divvy to see which idea they are most excited about. Helbert told us,“‘Gameifying’ is the most interesting idea to us, since this idea isn’t something we can already easily extrapolate from the data. This one is interesting because it’s a suggestion people have brought up, but that has not been executed. We’d be curious to hear innovative ways to make sure the system is appropriately balanced.”

Congrats to all the student and employee “hackers” on their successful event!

Groupon Employees Surpass Mid-Year Volunteering Goal!

pOejJa_jAkf6lS0OwDZUc302tJUS5d9I8TZm7b90fCaWKIT7FGFu9jMLowlaspa0_2IZ7Lka9OCMSMPfnnYaqQWmVWkWbpnLASfqK-M5XPlYkTDhJEkiuOWufvqIG2ER0wYou’ve heard of a dance-a-thon, read-a-thon, and a marathon, but during the months of May and June at Groupon, employees participated in Groupon’s Super-Competitive, Very Serious Employee Volunteer-a-thon. During those two months, Employee Volunteer Program chapters through offices in North America hosted 82 events, helping us completed 5,474 out of our 2014 goal of 10,000 hours of service to local communities, and surpassing our goal of 5,000 volunteer hours before the end of June.RchWUwrstrFIcc2JWhJ2k2tl3DHOmnGmDHw3vB5aBdddF2tBMK1CFC8YRuV7IwLrBAKM77px-UzspU7rWEkJShFu5zFNRNKonWR4fVegMPew8UPAy5jcKAB8CnUMNQAwJQ

A big focus of Groupon’s employee volunteer program is team volunteer outings, which engage numerous employees and promote team bonding and skill development. To date in 2014, we have had 17 participate, with Engineering, Sales, and Marketing coming in as top departments for participation. Many of Groupon’s top leaders have also joined in to make a difference.

 J_d8gTl-fuhnrwSfa-NEaler0k2vFtMsKhvNGwwklecepLBeMDJecKXQww67ZhQ8II01pBi6kx6HANdU5xbQpEc9JzObpqBcUxxEAHPZUhsB7EurTUeExGpmzWSHaat5xwTo kick off the volunteer-a-thon, we launched our new volunteer platform, VolunteerMatch, in all of North America and UK in April to help employees search and sign-up for volunteer opportunities in their local area, and track their contribution to our company goal.

We look forward to engaging even more employees in having a meaningful impact in their communities as we continue to our goal of 10,000 hours of service in 2014.

Celebrate Pride at Groupon

851x315_social_pridedeals_dmAt Groupon, we love diverse, culturally rich communities because we know that these communities are good for our merchants and our customers. During Pride Month, we celebrate and bring awareness to the merchants, neighborhoods, and community groups that support and cater to the LGBTQ community all year round, adding diversity to the range of services and experiences offered in their community. These businesses and community centers are incredibly important, as they are often more than just businesses, they are places of refuge, places to create community, places to share stories, and places to build hope for LGBTQ people.10494417_10152479832995821_8141085900731322073_o

The gay rights movement started when a small group of people stood up for their rights and never stopped fighting. To contribute to the effort, Groupon employees have marched and signed open letters in support of marriage equality on both the national and state levels; participated in the Human Rights Campaign’s wear-red day; and formed an internal employee-resource group to support lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender employees. Groupon salutes our merchants and customers who support this effort and equality for all.

During this month of Pride we are celebrating in various ways: Our collection features local events, clothing, and products to complement any Pride parade or gathering. Plus, our employees rallied in all our offices across the globe wearing colors of the rainbow. Oh, and there’s a little opportunity for you to win a chance to win a trip to New York City, share a drink with Neil Patrick Harris and see the Tony-winning musical “Hedwig and the Angry Inch” on Broadway. All donations will go directly to Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS, which supports people across the country living with HIV/AIDS.Screen Shot 2014-06-27 at 3.34.51 PMMore on Pride @ Groupon: Groupon is a proud supporter of our LGBTQ employees, merchants, consumers, and community. We scored 100% in the Human Rights Campaign’s 2014 Corporate Equality Index, making us a “Best Place to Work – 2014”. We also believe in advocating for the rights of all our employees, leading us to be public supporters of marriage equality and the federal Employee Non-Discrimination Act. Around the office our Pride@Groupon employee resource group hosts fun activities and educational events. And of course, you can look for our float in this year’s Chicago Pride Parade!

Put Your Ideas “On the Table” with Groupon and The Chicago Community Trust

Image Header_HorizontalWant to take part in shaping Chicago’s future? The Chicago Community Trust (CCT) is giving you the chance to do just that.

Groupon is partnering with the CCT for their On the Table initiative, which commemorates the Trust’s 99th anniversary. The event aspires to bring more than 10,000 Chicagoans together on Monday, May 12 to generate new ideas, inspire bold solutions and cultivate collaborations to improve communities throughout Chicago and the surrounding area.

Interior of MK

Interior of MK

As a company invested in the future of our home city of Chicago, we are offering On the Table dinners at select restaurants in the city through a deal that allows customers to purchase seats at 8- to 10-person community tables on May 12. Participating restaurants include MK, Bin 36, Cafe Absinthe, Piece Pizza, Ras Dashen Ethiopian Restaurant, Cafe des Architectes, Carson’s Ribs and Ethiopian Diamond Restaurant.

To join a community table, simply search “#OnTheTable2014″ on Groupon beginning today to reserve your spot for May 12. Representatives from the Social Enterprise Alliance – Chicago, an organization that leverages its members to advance social change through their for-profit and non-profit work, will serve as a Groupon-sponsored hosts at each table to help guide the conversation. At MK, Lisa Kornick, owner, will lead the discussion.

“As a company born and raised in Chicago, Groupon is delighted to support The Chicago Community Trust’s On The Table initiative,” said Brad Keywell, Groupon board member and co-founder. “Getting people to band together around our local community has always been at Groupon’s core and holding these conversations over dinner at a local restaurant makes perfect sense.”

Following the event, On the Table participants will receive a simple email survey to share insights about their participation in this project, the interesting ideas they discussed and how this experience may influence their civic engagement moving forward. To capitalize on the power of these collective ideas, Chicago Ideas Week (CIW) will then invited three-to-five participants with compelling vision and ideas for improving Chicago to take the CIW stage in October 2014.

To reserve a spot at an On the Table community table on May 12, search “#OnTheTable” on To learn more about The Chicago Community Trust and On the Table, visit

Groupon Teams Up with Brad Pitt’s Make It Right Foundation on an Epic Deal

Win or Buy an Epic Trip to New Orleans to Attend Gala featuring Brad Pitt, Bruno Mars and Kings of Leon

806x806_socialFacebook_MIR_mbYep, you read that right. We are offering a deal of epic proportions—the chance to support a great charity AND have a chance to meet the charity’s founder, Brad Pitt.

Starting today, Groupon Grassroots is launching a campaign with Make It Right, the organization founded by Brad Pitt to build environmentally-friendly homes for people in need. The campaign allows you to donate directly to Make It Right, as well as enter the sweepstakes* to win the chance to travel to New Orleans and attend Make It Right’s gala, which includes performances by platinum-selling recording artists Bruno Mars and Kings of Leon.

Hosted at The Sugar Mill in New Orleans, the gala also includes a cocktail hour, three-course dinner prepared by the city’s finest chefs including Susan Spicer and Donald Link, local jazz musicians, gift bags and more. Additionally, schedule permitting, the winner has the chance to participate in a group meet-and-greet with Brad Pitt. To top off the weekend, the winner also gets a tour of the Make It Right homes with an award-winning architect. 100% of the donations from the Grassroots campaign go directly to Make It Right.

Screen Shot 2014-04-16 at 4.36.41 PM“Through our social responsibility efforts, we’ve been helping build and support the communities around our thousands of local merchants since Groupon’s inception,” said Groupon CEO Eric Lefkofsky.  “By partnering with Make It Right we’re able to expose millions of people around the world to this important project and help the organization make a significant difference, one that should be replicated in struggling neighborhoods across the world.” Continue Reading

Groupon Glows-in-the-Dark in Support of Earth Hour

Earth_Hour_60+_LogoCould you go without light for an hour to help the Earth? This Saturday, March 29, 8:30-9:30pm local time, millions of people everywhere will turn off non-essential lights for Earth Hour, and show their commitment to the planet. The movement, started by the World Wildlife Fund, has evolved to also include a crowdfunding platform for environmental projects. In 2013, participating landmarks in Earth Hour included the Sydney Harbour Bridge, Eiffel Tower, Acropolis, Big Ben, Times Square, and many more.

Screen Shot 2014-03-27 at 4.46.00 PM To support Earth Hour and showcase some of our quirkiest Groupon Goods deals, we created a collection for “Things You Can Do In the Dark” (including products such as LED shoelaces), that also features a Groupon Grassroots campaign benefiting World Wildlife Fund and a project to install solar panels for low-income families. Visit to donate and shop before the collection ends tomorrow!


Celebrating International Women’s Day at the Local Level

As a global company operating at the hyper-local level, we know the importance of celebrating the individuality and addressing the specific needs of each community in which we work. With this in mind, we celebrate International Women’s Day (IWD) with the awareness that while solidarity and unity within a movement has its rewards, it is equally important to recognize what is happening within a movement at its most local level.

International Women’s Day brings together people from all over the world to celebrate the social, political, and economic achievements of women, while also addressing areas that need further action. The theme for 2014 is “Inspiring Change.” Just as Groupon has a global presence with a local focus, International Women’s Day is a global event that supports participating countries in coming up with themes and events that are relevant to their own communities.

Here in the United States, like in many countries, women’s equality is often spoken about as a single entity, measured in milestones such as the first female astronaut, the first female CEO, and maybe someday soon, the first female U.S. president. These achievements are no doubt noteworthy. However, as we celebrate them, we should also be mindful of the fact that the triumphs of one single woman or group of women do not indicate the state of women’s equality as a whole.

So on this International Women’s Day, we encourage you to assess the state of women’s equality in your community, in your workplace, and even in your own home and family. We also encourage you to celebrate the individual achievements of the women in your life, as we at Groupon celebrate our female Groupon merchants, customers, and employees. By recognizing and addressing the state of women’s equality at the hyper-local level, we can better address the specific barriers to equal opportunities for agency, achievement, and respect faced by women in all parts of the world.


Black-Owned Businesses at the Heart of Communities

BHM screenshotAt Groupon, small businesses and local communities are our passion. So during Black History Month, we wanted to highlight black-owned small businesses, which are an important part of many communities in Chicago and the rest of the country. To help us articulate this point, we reached out to three local community and economic development organizations to discuss the importance of these businesses to community development in our home city of Chicago. Continue Reading

Investigating Groupon’s Effect on Local Communities

Love LocalAt Groupon, we love small, local businesses, and we make it our goal to support them as part of our business model. Our hope is that connecting consumers with local merchants in their own neighborhoods benefits local communities and economies, but we couldn’t be sure until we did some more digging.

To begin to answer these questions, the Social Innovation team at Groupon undertook two research projects this past fall:

  1. The first was to determine whether a dollar spent at Groupon on an independent business generated more economic activity than a dollar spent at a chain business directly.

  2. The second question was how does Groupon shift consumer behaviors.

The clear answer to question #1 was…yes! During a 12 week period in Q3, 2013 in three markets (Chicago, Atlanta, St. Louis), Groupon created 48 jobs and $4 million in economic activity that would not have existed had the money spent at Groupon been spent directly at chains.

While that result alone might seem to answer the larger question—does Groupon positively impact entire communities—we still needed more information to draw a conclusion.  The reason is, while spending a dollar at Groupon is better for the local economy than spending it directly at a chain, it is still not as good for that local community as spending it directly at a local, independently owned merchant.

So then we needed to answer the following question: Is Groupon changing consumer behavior in such a way that dollars that would have been spent at chains are now spent at independent merchants via Groupon? To begin to answer that bigger question, we asked our Groupon consumers how they feel about local and independent businesses and how they use Groupon to discover them.

What the Social Innovation team found while working with Groupon’s Market Research team was that approximately ⅓ of Groupon consumers believe that supporting local independent businesses is important and that 50% of Groupon’s consumers use Groupon to discover local businesses.

More research needs to be done to empirically prove that Groupon positively affects local communities, but it is clear from our initial research that Groupon plays a role in supporting the local business community—something we are proud of!