Last week an article in the Washington Post casued quite a stir among nonprofits who raise funds online. To Nonprofits Seeking Cash, Facebook App Isn’t So Green says that the “Causes” social network application available on Facebook, MySpace and other social networks hasn’t met expectations. This has provoked a lot of discussion and some deserved criticism of the article in the nonprofit fundraising blogosphere. CC supporter and leading social media expert Beth Kanter has a couple posts that serve as a great place to dive into the discussion if you’re interested.
CC’s experience with the Causes application is in line with most nonprofits mentioned in the WaPo article and subsequent discussion. We’ve raised $2,688 via the application on Facebook and a whole $45 on MySpace. This apparently puts us in the top “tiny fraction” of nonprofits who have used the application and rasied more than $1,000.
However, we don’t consider this a failure at all. Raising funds to support a public good is hard work, online or offline, and there is no magic bullet. It takes time to learn how to most effectively use each new tool. Simply raising money isn’t the only way to gauge the success of a fundraising tool — in fact financial contribution often only follows other forms of engagement. The almost 40,000 people who have “joined” our cause on Facebook have signaled to us (and their friends!) their support, and over the years we hope to earn the financial support of many of these people. Also,we feel it’s pretty important for an organization like Creative Commons to engage deeply with social media tools, because that’s a significant part of the universe we help enable.
We offer a whole range of ways to signal your support of Creative Commons, most importantly by using our licenses. Please explore the best means for you to support CC, and invite your friends to do so as well, on social networks such as Facebook and otherwise. If you can make a financial contribution now, please do so. We’ll ask again during our annual fall campaign!