Facebook Causes is oft criticized for its ability to build causes with tens of thousands of followers yet relatively few donations. But is it really the fault of the program, or the tendency for organizations deploying Causes (as well as a wide variety of social media tools across the Internet)? Isn’t the problem that we’re relying on tools instead of interacting with key stakeholders in communities?
To that point, it’s people that drive social media, not tools. And so while an app can get people to join, it can’t make the right kind of ask for donations that an influential member of a network could. A network of 100 influentials with strong connections can make a much bigger impact than 100,000 passive followers with no vested interest in the cause (brand, company, effort, etc.).
To demonstrate this point, I decided to use my birthday as a fundraising mechanism to raise money for the Clean Energy Coalition. It seemed like a natural fit for this purpose, 70k members in the organization’s cause page and $996 in donations as of May 15th. With a decent, but certainly not the largest Facebook network of more than 1500, I embarked on my birthday cause campaign to raise at least an initial goal $500 for the cause, if not tripling the funds to date.
As of 7 p.m. today, the eve of my birthday, I had raised $452. I had increased the amount of financial donations by almost 50% in just two weeks. Imagine what 100 of me could do. $50,000? $100,000?
The evidence is obvious. Facebook Causes isn’t really the issue. The Cause application is just a tool that works best when people use it to fundraise, for their birthday or in general. Social media that involves commitments works best when people drive the initiatives as opposed to software programs.
Thank you to everyone who donated to the Clean Energy Coalition on my behalf. I really appreciate it. My interest in the Coalition, Live Earth and other green efforts is a sincere one.
As I said in the original citation, for me the environmental crisis is the challenge of our generation. While we are focused on the current economic issue, it’s apparent that the ecological changes we are all facing continue to accelerate. We need to collectively ban together and change our lifestyles and habits to save energy, water and other precious resources while reducing our carbon footprint.
If you’d like to donate, my birthday cause page is here.