One of the interesting characteristics of social media tools (things like blogs, podcasts and other information sharing technologies) is that they tend to be free or almost free to the users. What that means is that networks like Project-Agape (see yesterday’s post) may present an almost costless platform for foundations to communicate their philanthropic knowledge to the world at large and by doing so attract more dollars to the projects that they care about.
I don’t know much about Project-Agape yet. Their model may or may not prove to be useful for philanthropic knowledge sharing. But in response to my post yesterday where I wondered if foundations could have a presence on the network, they emailed me the following:
This is indeed part of our model. Since we support all registered 501c3’s, any individual user will be able to search for a foundation & start a cause for it, recruiting members and raising money for the organization. Foundations in turn can leverage the platform by setting up profile pages, which inform our community about who they are and what they do, and then encourage their own donors to start causes on their behalf. As mentioned we’re now in testing, with a diverse but relatively limited number of nonprofit organizations participating. We certainly hope foundations will participate, and they can contact me for more information at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Given Project-Agape founder Sean Parker’s involvement in the creation of Napster, Plaxo and Facebook, it seems he knows what it takes to form successful social networks. But even if the project fails or doesn’t meet the needs of foundations, social media tools present a wonderful (and ultra low cost) opportunity for foundations to communicate philanthropic knowledge, become true thought leaders and leverage the massive giving power of everyday people.
Indeed. The larger nonprofits used to be the only ones who could afford things like this:
“give volunteers the tools to easily set up Web pages associated with your organization and events, plus email communication capabilities to mobilize friends and family, easy online donation capabilities and reports for measuring progress.”
By providing those tools for free, Agape (and Change.org, etc.) seem to be leveling the playing field for smaller nonprofits.
Not to sound too much like a curmudgeon but this isn’t new news. GiveMeaning.com has been doing this for the last two years. Individuals advocating for the causes linked to an implementing organization.
Lots of products out there, but I’m hoping to see a “do good” network make use of the elements that make successful social networking sites so sticky– picture albums w/ tagging, the facebook mini-feed, writing on the wall, etc.–realizing that it’s not just philanthropic instincts you need to serve. People can’t be saving the world 24-7. Seems to me you have to give them tools to goof-off and interact about anything. And they need to let people network themselves by School and Workplace as well as Cause and Nonprofit. Don’t hit my over the head with 30 issues as soon as I log in. Show me how to get in touch with my friends. Once I find them, then I’ll start getting involved.
The fact that Parker has a demonstrated expertise in creating social networks is what makes Project-Agape so interesting. Social network creation is no easy task and you mention a couple of critical elements.
However, I do hope that they keep the project a niche network and not turn it into a general interest social network that just has a “do good buzz”.