I heard about this from FriendFeed because Jonathan Colman shared this link and the resulting conversation prompted Jonathan to send me some additional information. It peaked my interest as part of my continued coverage of Facebook Apps for Good.
(Lil) Green Patch is a social gardening game. A what? By planting cute little (virtual) fruit plants with your Facebook friends you can help make the world a greener place! Facebook users start by either sending plants to their friends or by accepting plants from their friends. The plants given by your friends are displayed in a (Lil) Green Patch on your profile. Like a real garden, it requires maintenance and the game includes lots of ways to interact with the larger Green Patch community and your friends. Just read the application FAQ.
The application is one of the top ten most installed applications on Facebook. According to Developer Analytics it has 5,217,180 installations with 521,718 or 10% active users. But what makes it stand out from other popular applications - such as Friends for Sale - is that it combines group dynamics with social activism. And it goes beyond just putting a cute little green vegetable plant on your profile -- the applications is making donations to green causes.
The application gets sponsor revenue and contributes a portion of that money to save the Rainforests based on the number of installs and active users. The most recent donation was made May 1, 2008 to the Adopt An Acre program of the Nature Conservancy bringing the total donated to $33,600 and 16,000 members or an average of $2.00 per donor. According to Jonathan Colman, (Lil) Green Patch's most recent donation just occurred this past week, but they've been donating $6-$10k a month to Nature Conservancy Cause since January, 2008.
Colman notes, "They're one of the most popular apps on Facebook and they link directly to The Nature Conservancy's Cause at which helps us recruit new members (4k/month at our peak) as well as attain individual donations."
Recently, Facebook Causes released its numbers for its first year (also discussed on FriendFeed here) The company says they’ve registered 12 million users who are now supporting more than 80,000 non-profit causes worldwide. $2.5 million has been raised for 19,445 different 501(c)(3) charitable organizations. As Jon Stahl notes in the comments in the TechCrunch post, "So, 2.5MM / 20,000 nonprofits = $125 avg. raised per nonprofit. Not very impressive at all."
Still, as Max Gladwell notes in the comments, "It's only getting started," and points to his "Ten Ways To Use Social Media to Change The World." Those who look at the first year of results as positive, such as Austin Hill who said in the comments, "More important then the actual number of dollars donated is the social affect of users displaying the causes they want to associated themselves with.Many charitable organizations spend considerable amounts of money on marketing and fundraising. By allowing users to showcase their own interests through Causes Project Agape is enabling a new form of charitable marketing."
With social gaming applications where users are engaged with the charity through play and generating sponsor revenues - does this model have the potential to raise even more dollar amount? Do you think Causes first year is pretty good, although the dollar amounts less than impressive? How is your organization thinking about the value of a Facebook Cause - are you in wait in see mode, we tried but it didn't work mode, or investing for the longer-term mode?