Facebook-ing philanthropy

This Newsweek article claims Facebook is on the cutting edge of changing philanthropy. It then points out that its not about raising huge amounts of money. Using Facebook Causes applications, users (donors) have already set up 27,000 campaigns for more than 11,000 organizations.

The changes that matter, according to Newsweek, are 1) that donors' interests are shared immediately with their network of friends, 2) greater accountability and transparency, as Facebook Causes let you direct your donation quite specifically, and 3) the donors do the work, not the nonprofits.

All of these claims have been challenged. Discussions are raging on nonprofit tech listservs about the fact that anyone can set up anything as a cause, link to Guidestar, and off you go. Sometimes the "named cause" and the recipient organization don't match. Sometimes nonprofits have to set up FB causes to avoid having someone (maliciously inclined) do it "for" them - remember domain name squatters, now we have Facebook Cause squatters. And most point out that most of the causes have raised $0. See more here on Care2's blog and in this report on wired fundraising.


Polly Gowers said...

Hi Lucy. Thought-provoking post. There seems to be a lot of confusion at the moment about Facebook. Even while most of us now agree that FB and social networks are vital tools for charitable giving, we can't seem to agree on how best to use them. Another point-of-view was expressed this week at the International Fundraising Congress where one of the speakers urged NGOs to turn to Facebook as an effective way to collect "sophisticated data". In my mind that kind of misses the point and is not necessarily the best way to use FB to interact with your supporters. I blogged about the full article here: http://pollyclicks.com/?p=38

United Way Chattanooga said...

Many nonprofits have just begun to use Facebook, Twitter and other forms of social media in the past 12 to 18 months. And while they may have the technology down, most are still trying to figure out how to integrate and leverage the different social media tools with the more "traditional" web sites and e-mail -- which are still difficult concepts for some nonprofits. Many nonprofits are smart enough to realize that they want to use these tools, like Facebook and Causes, to raise awareness and friends before they use it to raise money -- which is an appropriate fundraising practice. Those that have figured out the right formula for their organization and are agressively working it are seeing fundraising success, but it will take a little time for the pack to catch up.