The Chronicle of Philanthropy featured a video interview with Facebook co-founder and Obama ’08 online campaign architect Chris Hughes yesterday, talking about the upcoming launch of a social network aimed specifically at nonprofit users.
Jumo — with the tagline, “We connect people who want to change the world” — will be going live in the next few weeks with the goal of connecting people with worthy causes, and giving causes the opportunity to reach out to their communities online.
Eight months after a soft launch for the site was announced, Jumo has over 6,000 followers on Twitter, and a Facebook community of more than 15,000 people eager to try out the platform when it opens up November 30th.
In his Philanthropy interview, Hughes describes Jumo as a “home base” for a wide range of other platforms already in use by charities and causes, such as Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn. The goal is not to replace these services, but to offer a central location where interested users can connect with every aspect of a nonprofit’s social presence.
If you’re looking to donate online, however, Jumo won’t be the place for you to go just yet — Hughes wants to put the focus on spreading information and encouraging involvement in this phase of the launch, rather than having users simply click a “Donate” button to support the causes they case about. I think this is a great way to get started, actually (as much as many causes would likely appreciate immediate donation functionality), and a good way to prevent the site from turning into a fundraising competition.
The site itself will survive on user donations — which will likely end up being a fair gauge of how much value people place in this new platform.
Here are the questions I’m hoping to answer when Jumo goes live in a couple weeks:
1. How will Jumo vet nonprofits / causes signing up to use the site? Hughes says the community will be able to flag any groups that don’t seem legit, but this could result in significant confusion. Will there be a way to verify if the person signing up a nonprofit for Jumo actually works for the nonprofit? Will they require proof of nonprofit status? And if groups are flagged falsely by users who don’t believe in their causes, which side will Jumo take?
2. How socially savvy do causes have to be to make use of the site? Yes, the idea of a central place for groups to gather is appealing, but some groups may suffer if they fail to engage as effectively as other organizations. It would be a shame to see a great cause get the cold shoulder because they’re not quite sure what to do once they’re there. My hope is that Jumo provides a wealth of support and information for groups that are just starting to create a bridge to the web from traditional development tactics.
3. While a central spot for all your social platforms might seem like an appealing notion, isn’t this what nonprofit websites and blogs should be doing right now? Will being listed alongside thousands of other groups help or hinder their ability to create a thriving online community?
4. Will everyone play nice? Will there be a strong emphasis on community standards and cooperation? I’d like to think so — but I also know how passionately people debate the value of different causes, and how quickly that debate can go awry.
I’m looking forward to seeing how the Jumo launch goes, and how nonprofits put this new opportunity to use — and I’ll definitely be writing a sequel to this post after November 30th with my thoughts and observations.