CauseWired by Tom Watson

Most people in philanthropy kind of get that the web and “social media” applications are having an important impact on the field, but they don’t really understand what it all means. If this describes you, you need to make it your New Year’s resolution to read the outstanding book CauseWired: Plugging In, Getting Involved, Changing the World by Tom Watson.

Tom is a social media guru in the social sector. He is behind the excellent site OnPhilanthropy and has been writing about the Internet since at least the mid 1990’s. What makes CauseWired such an important book is that it is not a book about technology. It is a book about social change. It is a book about causes and how a new set of tools and tactics is changing the way that change happens. Tom doesn’t just explain what Facebook Causes “is” he explains why it matters.

Writing in an ultra-readable style, Tom draws you into the strange, evolving world of social media. Unlike so many people who write about technology, Tom doesn’t geek out on the high-tech elements of the web. What he realizes and what he communicates so well to his readers is the idea that the social web is just a new tool set for impacting the cause.

To regular readers of this blog, you’ll find many friends in the pages of CauseWired. Allan Benamer, Lucy Bernholz, Leslie Crutchfield, Phil Cubeta, Peter Deitz, Allison Fine, Beth Kanter, Heather McLeod Grant, Mario Marino, Ben Rattray, Marnie Webb and I all make guest appearances as the story unfolds. But the audience who I think most urgently needs to read CauseWired is those people who don’t read this blog or any other. For those people, the book tells the story of an exciting new world that is only just beginning to be told. And it tells the story not in the insider language that so much of Internet literature is told in, but in pure, plain English.

As a reader of this blog, I urge you to read CauseWired because you’ll really enjoy it. But I strongly urge you to buy a copy and give it someone who cares about philanthropy and social change but doesn’t understand the web.


  1. @bethkanter says:

    CauseWired by Tom Watson: idea that the social web is just a new tool set for impacting the cause. To regular re..

  2. Tom W. says:

    Sean – thanks for terrific review!

    You’ve paid me a high compliment on the readability vs. geek/tech-talk nature of it – that was one of the goals, indeed.

    Glad you enjoyed it and I hope it just continues to help feed the conversation.

  3. Beth Kanter says:

    Tom is a great writer! Can’t believe that he wrote and researched the book in less than a year. I agree, great reading for those senior managers and decision-makers not already reading blogs. Well, gotta back to playing with the new birthday feature on Facebook Causes – raising money again – you guessed it – for Sharing Foundation.

  4. Is excited for my new book CauseWired about social media in philanthropy

  5. Thanks for the review. I have been writing about my frustration over the lack of understanding of the power of social media especially among program officers at foundations. Typically, they use the computer for e-mail, web searches and a typewriter. Not understand the power, they are fearful about funding projects that explore innovative uses of the software in their organizations. I will certainly read this book and share it with colleauges.