Popular group-buying daily deal site Groupon has gone back to its roots with the launch of an initiative called "G-Team," which harnesses the collective consumer power that has made Groupon such a success, in order to connect users to local fundraisers, campaigns and other charitable causes. The causes will be tied to the deals posted to Groupon so as to attract like-minded shoppers with community organizations whose campaigns they may be interested in.

For example, a deal on canoe rentals might be tied to a campaign to clean up a river, a deal on bike tuneups might be linked to a campaign to donate bicycles to disadvantaged youth and so on.

G-Team: Campaigns for Charity or Just for Fun

But G-Team campaigns don't necessarily have to be focused on charity: they can be used for fun too, like organizing a flash mob or rounding up Groupon shoppers to use their coupon together on the same night at a particular venue.

Although the G-Team initiative was announced over a month ago, there has been little media coverage so far, likely due to its staged rollout. Initially, G-Team is only available as a pilot program in Chicago, but Groupon says it plans on bringing the program to more cities in the future.

The first campaign, just announced via Twitter and now available here, is raising money to support a local theater organization.

Groupon's Roots are in Community Organization

Many of Groupon's users may not realize that initiatives like these actually served as the roots of what became the discount shopping experience that's now practically a household name. According to the Groupon website, the organization grew out of a website called The Point, launched in 2007, which lets anyone start a campaign, but delays action until enough people have committed to the project. That same philosophy of collective power was later applied to what became Groupon, a site that offers a daily deal that's only available once enough people join that day.

With the G-Team campaigns, now hosted on The Point's site, there will be a "tipping point" that will need to be reached before action is taken. And anyone can apply for one of these Groupon campaign sponsorships, either as an individual or a representative from a non-profit or other local grassroots organization.

Explains Patty Huber, community manager for both The Point and Groupon, "First, we'll help you create a campaign page on The Point. Next, we'll develop a partnership with a Groupon merchant who will help support your campaign. Then, we'll promote your campaign along with the merchant's daily deal to our huge subscriber base."

G-Team campaigns, says Huber, are designed to benefit local communities, run for a limited period of time (usually a day), support causes that resonate with subscribers, aid specific projects and are organized around a "compelling story."

If you or your organization wants to be considered for sponsorship, the online application is available here.