Jumo? Meh. Here Are Two Better Sites for Social Good
The turkey has been eaten, the menorah is being lit, and the time to run in the opposite direction from every mall in America has begun. The fall and winter holidays are here, a time of year when many of us start thinking more about charitable giving and volunteerism. (Here’s hoping we think about them year-round too.) Just in time comes Jumo, a social network for social causes launched by a Facebook co-founder, Chris Hughes.
The site has been getting a lot of press this week as it launches, in part because of its founder’s connections. Besides collaborating with the Zuckmeister, Hughes has also worked with another famous American (albeit a little less well-known). The Jumo founder previously served as the Obama for America director of online organizing.
When you visit the site, Jumo asks you to sign in with your Facebook login and then select issues you’re interested in. Next you can select individual “projects” (or organizations) within those issues to follow.
This blog post has a good run-down on Jumo, along with links to articles about it. Social media for social good expert Beth Kanter wonders, as I do, whether the site will be able to convince people to move from just following organizations to donating and then getting out and actually volunteering. (As we know, Malcolm Gladwell doesn’t believe social media has potential for moving people up that ladder.)
I think the possibility for concrete action exists, but the concern I have is that Jumo is going to become YASN (Yet Another Social Network) that people will tire of logging into. Even though the site helps by using your Facebook login and connecting you to Facebook friends, it’s still a separate network, and so far I’m not clear on what benefits I can get from it that I can’t get from those organizations’ Facebook pages or Twitter feeds.
In a New York Times article on Jumo, Hughes says the site aims to do for charities “what Yelp did for restaurants”—help people find and review organizations. So far there’s little of that activity in the charities I selected. It’s primarily a one-way push of information out. We’ll see what happens as more users sign on and start being active.
Another new site that I think might have more potential is Sparked, a “micro-volunteerism” network. The site enables busy people who don’t have time to take a whole day to volunteer to offer their time in small increments that otherwise might’ve been spent on Facebook or YouTube.
Non-profits post challenges on the site, and then use the power of the Internet to crowdsource results. People can help with actions, such as “Suggest images for our brochure” or “Critique our Website” or answer questions, such as “How can we increase traffic and social engagement on our blog?”
The question about whether people will log into another social network still lingers with Sparked, but I like how you’re offered concrete, small actions to take to help out. You have an incentive to log in, because if you complete a task, you can feel like you’ve accomplished something.
A third Website, Idealist.org, is also relaunching to be more social network-y. Idealist is an oldie-but-goodie; I used it to look for volunteer opportunities and non-profit jobs waaaaay back in the day after I graduated from college.
This preview of their new site looks pretty cool. I like how the focus seems to be on people. You can create a profile with your interests, skills, education, work, and a statement about what kind of volunteer opportunities you’re looking for. This will be helpful for connecting people with appropriate activities.
The site also has some Facebook-like functionality: the site creates a feed of your activities, such as events you share; you can post links; and you can connect to (friend) both other people and organizations.
Jumo, on the other hand, as one person tweeted to Beth Kanter, seems to be missing the people.
Overall, it would be more convenient for users if social good networks integrated into already existing platforms, so users aren’t stymied by having to log into a bunch of different sites. Facebook’s Causes application is a start—it lets organizations post information and, if they wish, solicit donations. Users can follow causes and learn about their activities, repost information on their profiles, donate, and recruit other members. But it would be better if Causes had functionality like Sparked that encouraged users to take actual actions.
Also, sometimes the Causes application can seem kind of spammy. If you’re on a totally separate social good network, at least you know that everyone on there with you is there for the same reason you are.
It will be interesting to see what other social networks for good crop up, and what types of innovations they’re able to include. Maybe Jumo will surprise me and prove to be really powerful. We’ll also see whether Gladwell is right, or whether the power of the Web will win out.
Know of any other social networks for good? Leave links in the comments below.
For more social media and technology tidbits, follow me on Twitter, @evakl.
Image by Dimitri N
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