Late last night (or early this morning), Amy Sample Ward reported that Causes notified 184,725 users that its MySpace app will be removed from MySpace as of today. The email encouraged MySpace users of Causes to join the cause on Facebook.
One wonders what the motivation was? Amy's post spoke about the implications for individuals and communities, raising the question - "In abandoning MySpace, is Causes abandoning nonprofit groups organizing online with poorer users and people of color?" Justin Mass went as far as to say that the move was "social network redlining."
Marshall Kirkpatrick, on ReadWrite Web, wrote a post further analyzing the situation, raising the question: Or are neither MySpace or Causes any big loss for social change organizations? Marshall goes on to quote an interview he did with Peter Cashmore from Mashable on Netsquared who questioned whether MySpace was a place for "social media for social good."
Without specific data on active users (versus app installs) of Causes app on Myspace or how effective it has been as a friendraising tool on MySpace by individuals and 40,000 plus nonprofits, it it is hard to quantify the loss. Ivan Boothe points out, fundraising efforts have probably not be spectacular because there isn't engagement built in. (I've criticized Causes interaction design in the past for being like a one-night stand, although they have improved since the two years that I wrote that post)
One wonders if this provides an opportunity for another fundraising and friendraising application to set up shop on MySpace, one that perhaps has a true interest in the nonprofit and community there.
Ivan Boothe points out a larger lesson for nonprofits moving forward:
I think Rebecca Leaman said it best — don't put "all fundraising eggs in one third-party basket!" These services are useful, and can help your organization advance its mission, but it's not accountable to you — and you need to have other options.
Those other options are a CRM where you own your relationships and donor data like email addresses. Yes, social media is about giving up control of your message, but you shouldn't be giving up your donor and supporter relationships.