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« What is the value of listening to social media channels for your organization? | Main | My First Grade Teacher Friended Me on Facebook »


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James Sutandyo

I think this is going to be awesome! I can't wait to see things unravel the way did for all of the other Twitter based fundraising events.

It will be very interesting to see the diverse community that show up to these events as well... from the tech community to the philanthropy community.

David Feldt

Hi Beth,

Thanks for telling this important story. I'm one of the organizers of the Toronto Twestival and wrote about this democratization of giving here:

The exciting thing about Twestival is its global scale. You hint at Clay Shirky's "Here Comes Everybody" in the title above. I think the following quote from his book says it all:

" We are used to a world where little things happen for love and big things happen for money ... Now, though, we can do big things for love."

Let's hope that systems, politics and ego don't get in the way of the groundswell that is building around Twestival and that we see the global community contribute seven figures to charity:water through this initiative. That would be unprecedented and denote a fundamental shift in society.


Rachel Weidinger

Super impressed by the scale of this Twestival effort, but not (currently) impressed by the donation platform it will run on-- TipJoy -- for three reasons:

1. Google Juice is Bad Sometimes:

There are 2K+ unique Google results for my name, and after signing up for a TipJoy account one month ago, it's my #2 Google result. A week ago it was #5. Do people want their financial transactions as to turn up in their first page of Google results? Facebook is smart enough to allow you to toggle private/public search listings--but TipJoy is a very young start up that isn't. Of note: they can't delete accounts yet.

2. TipJoy Doesn't Get the Important Bits of Donor Privacy:

Ivan stated that "public donations are core to tipjoy like twitter streams are public." It's in their biz interest to default to every financial record being public, and though they allow you to make your stream private, your profile is still clearly searchable. I believe that TipJoy is not following the guidelines in AFP's Donor Bill of Rights. Earlier I asked that they "consider that people may support causes they don't want attached to their names, +that connection could have powerful negs for them." I further explained "My point is that with new tools like these, you should educate and support your users in understanding implications of their use." I don't feel like TipJoy is there yet.

3. There Is A Reason That Donor Lists Are (Somewhat) Secret:

It won't be long before someone scrapes all the TipJoy donor data off Twitter and builds a Twitter micro donor list, and campaigns follow. I don't want Twitter to be like that. Ick.


Thanks for covering the twestival Beth!

Rachel, let me address your concerns:

1. You can set your donations to private: However, if you want more people to find out about the cause, make your giving public and make sure to give over Twitter. Public donations aren't for everyone, but they are going to become more important as identity becomes solid online. Social media is all about knowing the person across the wire, right?

Sorry for the delay in deleting your account. We needed to make a change in the tool we used in order to make sure that the funds you already gave didn't get undone by canceling your account. That's fixed now, so you can see here that your account is gone (along with the google juice)

Facebook, IMHO, fails in privacy settings, because it is really hard to be open. Openness is the new black, and facebook is really closed.

2. Calling something a "bill of rights" is very misleading. It isn't a universally agreed upon document, with inalienable truths. It's one party's opinion. And it isn't about Tipjoy biz dev. It's about the causes and content. We want more people to know about it. In Tipjoy, we default to public because we think that helps everyone. Digital content is different: it begs to be free and open. We let you enable private donations, but don't think that it serves the community, so we make the default public.

3. If you want your donations to be secret, don't use a public platform. Scraping accounts to solicit for donations would not be a fruitful use of time. There are already thousands of spammers killed daily on Twitter. Unsolicited offers make up half the internet. Killing them is normal, and certainly no reason to change how we do things.

That would be like ceasing email communication because of spam. Ceasing activity isn't the right solution. Filtering is the right answer. By being open and sharing we are stronger.


Wow, really important ideas in the comment thread.... I think there is openness and then there is openness. I sure don't want my #2 listing in Google to be my donations account at TipJoy. I don't see how that serves anyone but TipJoy's SEO rankings. I'm happy to have my name appear as donating to a particular cause, but on that causes' page, not anywhere else.

Having said that, I think instant payment options like TipJoy are incredibly valuable.

Rachel Weidinger

The AFP's Donor Bill of Rights is essentially a professional code of ethics, and is pretty darn endorsed by nonprofit and educations fundraising professionals.

"The Donor Bill of Rights was created by the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP), the Association for Healthcare Philanthropy (AHP), the Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE), and the Giving Institute: Leading Consultants to Non-Profits. It has been endorsed by numerous organizations."

Obviously a bunch of professional associations have not created a law, they've merely created a widely agreed upon set of ethics to restrict themselves with and cleverly labeled it in marketingese as a Donor Bill of Rights. But the AFP's Donor Bill of Rights, to paraphrase The Dude, is not just like my opinion, man.

As we move towards peer-to-peer fundraising, methinks it is important that we HELP our users understand and build good online reputations. Peer-to-peer fundraising platform makers should get that different users have different goals.

Joe Gunn

Thanks for this Beth! I I do think this is the future of fundraising. ActiveGiving (the site I fundraise through is great for fundraising. I just wish they were hopping on the Web 2.0 bandwagon more quickly.

Rachel Weidinger

I posted my larger response here:

Debra Askanase

Hi Beth,
Firstly, I want to say that I am one of the organizers of the Israel Twestival, Jerusalem. We are using the opportunity to showcase many of the innovative "cleantech" companies that originate in Israel along with raising money for charity:water. The Twestival gives us an opportunity to raise money for a good cause outside of Israel, to showcase (we're calling it a micro expo) environmental technology and to of course meet other Israeli Twitterers.

I applaud your noting Rachel Weidinger's dissappointment with Tipjoy's privacy policies and raising this larger issue. A few things:
1. Online fundraising is a relatively new event. A lot of people think of it as "old school"-- writing the check and sending it in, and all of this is kept private to the organization. However, what most of us fail to realize is the power of the "new school" -- writing the check is now on a public platform and thus, like all social media, possibly subject to online search and public reveal. Since you write so knowledgeably about this very issue of online fundraising, I'd be curious to read your thoughts on this very issue of old school thought brought to a new school platform: Do online donors assume some sort of online privacy when donating?

2. Tipjoy does have a privacy setting. Since I have not visited their site (yet), I'm not sure how obvious that setting is to the user. However, given that most people do think of donations as a private matter, it would be in Tipjoy's interest to integrate the privacy setting selection into the registration process.

Hope this is helpful.
Debra Askanase, Community Organizer 2.0

Beth Kanter


Thanks so much for your response and participating in the discussion. First let me say I think the Twestival is an awesome idea and appreciate tipjoy --

I worked in fundraising for like 30 years - and I remember when we used IBM selectric typerwriters to send out solicitations and then opening up the envelopes with checks. There was always a check off option in the old days if you wanted your gift to be anonymous. Most organizations thanked their donors publically in some way - either in a program book, or if a big gift with name inscribed on the wall. But the donor was always given an option to have the gift be anonymous.

With online fundraising via email - that is the same approach - people can request anonymity - it isn't automatically open.

Even Causes on Facebook gives the donors the option to be anonymous - and not show up on the Cause wall if they choose not to be.

So, this is established philanthropic behavior - and it may be that Tipjoy would like to integrate the privacy option in a more visible way or set the default to be private and opt-in to be public.

Thanks to you for the conversation!

Rachel Weidinger

Online fundraising isn't so new. Case in point: the AFP's e-Donor Bill of Rights is 8 years old.

Here are the rights:
Principles of the E-Donor Bill of Rights

The E-Donor Bill of Rights is intended to complement the original document and provide further and more detailed guidance for the new world of online giving. In addition to the rights outlined in the Donor Bill of Rights, online donors should demand the following of their online solicitors:

* To be clearly and immediately informed of the organization's name, identity, nonprofit or for-profit status, its mission, and purpose when first accessing the organization's website.
* To have easy and clear access to alternative contact information other than through the website or email.
* To be assured that all third-party logos, trademarks, trustmarks and other identifying, sponsoring, and/or endorsing symbols displayed on the website are accurate, justified, up-to-date, and clearly explained.
* To be informed of whether or not a contribution entitles the donor to a tax deduction, and of all limits on such deduction based on applicable laws.
* To be assured that all online transactions and contributions occur through a safe, private, and secure system that protects the donor's personal information.
* To be clearly informed if a contribution goes directly to the intended charity, or is held by or transferred through a third party.
* To have easy and clear access to an organization's privacy policy posted on its website and be clearly and unambiguously informed about what information an organization is gathering about the donor and how that information will be used.
* To be clearly informed of opportunities to opt out of data lists that are sold, shared, rented, or transferred to other organizations.
* To not receive unsolicited communications or solicitations unless the donor has "opted in" to receive such materials.



Beth, Thanks so much for this post overviewing twestivals. I'm learning much from the comments as well. From a few tweets with different twestival hosts, a lot is still being coordinated. Possibly other donation options will be utilized. Thanks much for mentioning my blog posts about Charity:Water. I'm really eager to see how all that pans with the few other online campaigns I've helped with, my interest in deeper than the one time deal. I'm sifting through how twitter can be used to create longer term efforts...even as a communication tool...just to stay the course a bit on some of these longer term causes. I adore the thought of twitter serving as a hotline during natural disasters (how do you avoid losing internet connection tho 3G is pretty powerful)...for now thinking and listening much. Thanks for this overview. :)And thanks Rachel for all your insights esp. the rights you posted above...I have much to learn :)

David Kinard


Unpopular thinking ahead...

While I think the advancement of peer-to-peer fundraising is fun and exciting, and I love the grassroots nature of it all, I think it can lead to fractured efforts and depreciation of efforts by more organized and on-the-ground agencies. Sure some blogger can raise $10,000 for a family in need, or for fresh water in a far-away land, but I think the bigger picture is lost, and the impact to the greater good is diminished.

I guess I look at it like this: if you give a hundred people tools to lay bricks, you'll likely get a hundred small structures. If you give a hundred people the tools to lay bricks and get them working off a shared plan, then you can build anything you want. I am all for equipping believers of a cause to go out to the world and do good...but I am less enthusiastic of sending out a swarm of independent mavericks.

David Kinard

Allison Fine

Interesting comment, Dave, thanks for having the courage to voice it. I don't think anyone would say that they're in favor of thousands of disjointed efforts going on, sapping energy and resources away from one another. The big picture goal of efforts like Twestival is to begin to develop larger ecosystems of activists that are connected and coordinated with one another. The focus of leaders in the sector needs to be how to better work within these ecosystems to meet their own missions as well as meet the larger needs of communities. Does that make sense?

Allison Fine

Beth Kanter

Allison, thanks for the follow up. Dave I am wondering what you think this type of leadership looks like in an organization? I don't think we're going to stop efforts like this or control them, but how do you prepare yourself and your organization to make to work?

Marcia Stepanek

To Dave's point, self-organized groups -- or, simply, swarms of cause-wired activists -- will necessarily force new forms of leadership. I just posted on precisely this point in a post of an interview I did recently with Clay Shirky on this very subject. He and others say this new type of leader works more like an orchestra conductor; all about demanding excellence but in collaboration. Anyway, the post is on Cause Global blog and it's the one called "Blockage" and it's dated January 24. Check it out

David Kinard

Good dialogue here...but I am still a skeptic at one level. The issue for me here is exactly what Allison describes: independent activists sapping necessary resources away from organized causes.

What I see as an outcome is a risk of tremendous amounts of waste. For instance, grass-root activists go out and generate $1000 to buy four cows for a small village. But that village doesn't have the water delivery systems needed to grow the crops that the cows need to eat to survive. Thus, the cows eventually die or get sold for something else. By donating through an established group, that organization knows the priorities and is intimate with embedded issues and can best utilize generated resources.

What I fear is not that swarms of cause-wired activists will force new forms of leadership, but that the leadership will be distracted from doing the right work in the right order because they have to deal with the unintentioned disruption these good-hearted people likely create.

To Allison's comment that "the focus of leaders in the sector needs to be how to better work within these ecosystems to meet their own missions as well as meet the larger needs of communities" makes this point for me. If large communities of independent change-agents force sector leaders to take their eyes off the ball of their primary mission, then I think we've done more damage than good.

(I certainly understand I am dooming and glooming about scenarios with a negative outcome -- and there are likely many more scenarios with a positive spin.)

David Kinard

Beth Kanter

Just adding another link from the New York organizer about their event

I'm working on a follow up post after doing a few more interviews. Look forward to continuing this conversation.

Beth Kanter

And adding Lucy Bernholz's post to this list for follow up


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