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Scott Rooks

Interesting conversation Beth. Reads like a blog startegy. Good content,engage your audience,be active not idle,takes time.

Truthfully I believe this is the strategy to all marketing and fundraising actives. If we grasp that concept we can get more done increasing our return on invested time if not money.

It also points out the misconception that every marketing activity ends in a cash gift or a sale. It is important to realize that what I call "audience share" is equally important to nonprofits.

Volunteers who give time are equally important and quite frankly if on a regular basis are also more then likely giving as well. For most nonprofits its the multitude of small gifts that keep them alive. This is where given time FB will excell in my opinion.

Alison said in her piece that the Post didn't take in to consideration that FB subscripers are mostily 20 somethings. I believe we "older folk" will get on board in big numbers over time.

Thanks for sharing your conversation as it enlightens me as to who and what is behind Facebook. I like what I see so far.

Justine Lam

Thanks for the synopsis of your conversation, Beth. The Myelin Repair Foundation has found the Causes application invaluable in raising awareness about our myelin repair treatment research and our research process.

I see Causes as more of a grassroots communication/relationship building tool. We're posting information on our volunteers, our research progress, other interesting news items, and some fundraising as well.

I tested out the Birthday Wishes app recently, as my own birthday is coming up. That was such an effective tool, having a supporter ask for donations for a special occasion or in honor of sb is much more effective.

I look forward to keeping up with Causes Exchange and sharing ideas on how they can better align the tool to our strategies!

Brian Reich

Beth -

Thank you for having the conversation with Joe Green. Thank you for asking the questions that we all want addressed. And thank you for sharing the details of your conversation with everyone.

My apologies in advance, because while I think you had a great conversation with Joe Green, I still am not hearing anything new or different. I still am not getting a sense that Causes knows how to succeed, or is truly committed to doing whatever it takes. So, I'm about to launch into a little bit of a rant, because I don't know how else to respond anymore:

What I hear from Joe Green's answers (and I am pretty confident it is in the answers, and not in your summary of them) are two things: First, the Causes folks are nerds first, and nonprofit supporters second. I don't question their desire to help nonprofit groups, whether its organizing or fundraising or whatever. And I certainly respect their technical knowledge - they have built a really strong tool. I haven't seen anyone on their team with real, in the trenches, nonprofit experience. I haven't seen Causes reach out and include, not once but on a consistent basis, the kind of expertise and experience that people like you have to offer -- in terms of helping nonprofit organizations to use their platform to advance their mission. And I haven't seen a real shift in their strategy to try and support nonprofit organizations, or other groups, in advancing their efforts online. I see more tools and more features being released. I see more case studies, of a few organizations, which don't reflect the whole. And I see lots of discussion, from people inside Causes, that express a desire to support nonprofit organizations but won't acknowledge that their existing skillset doesn't address that need. Second, I see an old model, an understanding of how nonprofit organizations need to communicate and engage people online that is rooted in five years' ago's thinking. Yes, content is critical - probably the most important thing in my mind. But the value of the relationship that someone develops with a nonprofit organization is far more important than a single action. Signing a petition doesn't accomplish anything - other than to grow the list of the organization who has made it available. Awareness is important, but its the very first, tiny, everything must follow from it step in the process of advancing a cause. Impact is the goal - and if organizations aren't doing things online that have an impact, or move them significantly closer to having an impact on our society, they shouldn't be doing it.

Two thoughts: 1) Causes needs to acknowledge that they have built a great platform, but the gulf between the power of the tools they offer and the groups who use them having success is pretty wide. They need help. More tools, and more case studies won't do it. A blog or twitter feed might serve as a good medium that allows them to support a better conversation with users, but it won't provide them with the knowledge they need. 2) Nonprofit organizations are smarter than we give them credit for a lot of the time. They logged on to Causes, and they put some energy in. In some cases they saw success... most likely in gaining attention/awareness, and in a few cases by raising money or directing action. But for the most part, the nonprofits realized quickly that Causes is just another tool. Its another YouTube, another Twitter, another database, another email system, another whatever that is promoted as the solution to all their challenges, and instead is just a facilitator for the actions they are going to take or direct. Its not the nonprofits fault that they haven't used the platform 'responsibly" - its Causes obligation to help the nonprofit community recognize the potential that Causes offers, and help them to take advantage. If Causes did everything they could to lower the barrier to entry, support nonprofit organizations as they explored Causes, considered how best to develop their strategy offline, or in a broader way, so it reflected what Causes would offer -- and the nonprofits still screwed it up... THEN it would be the nonprofits fault. Everything short of that is Causes' responsibility, and at this point, Causes hasn't lived up to its end of the bargain, and the nonprofits know it.

I believe Joe Green is a smart guy - I have met him, and I have heard him speak, and I have studied the Causes platform, and I have talked to or worked with hundreds of organizations who have invested time and energy into what Joe and his team are doing. Joe and his team have built a powerful tool, possibly one of the most powerful available for nonprofit organizations to utilize. And he has promoted it well, attracted attention that most channels, platforms or tools would kill for. But attention doesn't equal impact. And good tools don't magically drive success. But for Joe and the Causes team to really impress me, to give me confidence that Causes will get to where it could be, he needs to admit he needs help. Joe and his team need to ask for help figuring this out. Joe and his team need to restructure the way they operate to support nonprofit organizations, and not just continue to offer new tools, and case studies, and commentary that don't get to the heart of the matter.

I wish I could have been a fly on the wall of your conversation. But even more, I wish Joe Green or someone on his team would call me, and you, and Alison Fine, and everyone else who has been neck deep in this discussion and this work for years -- and ask us for help. Don't just tell us all the great things you are doing... listen to what we are saying. Don't just ask for input... really hear what we think you need to do and make the necessary changes. Don't just look at what you have done... consider how organizations have succeeded online, and what support and guidance and input they received - what drove them to operate one way or another, and how that contributed to their success. Don't just continue to follow your roadmap... do what you ask your users to do -- and truly build a community that is invested in your success, committed to supporting your work, and fully involved in your efforts.

Maybe that will come in your next conversation with Joe Green.

Matt Mahan

Hi Brian,

Thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts and concerns.

First, I want to assure you that we are the first to acknowledge that our tool set is only a starting point! Causes’ few but excellent engineers have worked around the clock over the past two years to produce the tools you currently see, and we have a mile-long wish list of tools we hope to develop. There are countless tools outside of Causes, and many more to come within Causes, that nonprofits should be using for online organizing.

Second, as you know, sequencing and optimization are crucial, whether or not that makes us “nerds”. We've spent a long time getting right foundational tools before moving on to others that could theoretically produce a greater impact. Up to now, we’ve centered our development priorities on the needs of individual Facebook users, not nonprofits, and strived to make it easy for them to find and create causes, recruit, share media, fundraise, donate, and sign petitions. It may sound simple, but empowering 60 millions users to take and share these actions is no easy task! (Still, since you and I last spoke six months ago, Causes has added a petition feature, the very popular Birthday Wish fundraising tool, recurring donations, tutorial emails for new cause administrators, a revamped Help Center, and Causes Exchange, and we’ve done substantial work on a couple of other major tools that will be released in the coming months.)

Third, over this past year we have developed the capacity to engage nonprofits in a robust and consistent way. We’ve built out a Nonprofit and Activist Team of three full-time employees and two interns who have extensive experience working in, leading, and consulting for nonprofits and political campaigns. That team has run online campaigns with about a dozen nonprofit organizations and conducted in-depth interviews with nearly 50 more nonprofits that have shared their insights, needs, and goals with us as we create a nonprofit-centric product development roadmap. We’ve vetted over 9,000 nonprofit partners (to verify their identity within the Causes ecosystem) and added them to our monthly nonprofit newsletter and backend Partner Dashboard. We’ve traveled to conferences, conducted nonprofit webinars and surveys, and maintained a nonprofit help account ([email protected]) that gets dozens of inquires per day. The goal, as you said in your post, is to help nonprofits use online tools to deepen their impact on the world; for some that means fundraising, for some education, and for yet others advocacy.

That said, the fact that you were not aware of the effort we’ve made to reach out to nonprofits points to a real weakness on our part that are trying to address. Last month, we launched Causes Exchange (, a blog and resource center, in order to make our team and our tools more visible and accessible. We plan to use Causes Exchange and other channels to share more success stories, best practices, and feature releases with nonprofits, but also to continue getting ideas and constructive criticism from users and nonprofits.

Brian, I’d love to hear more about the specific tools, support structures, and other resources you think Causes can and should provide to nonprofits. I didn’t pull a lot of concrete recommendations out of your post, but I do think the vision you laid out of Causes potential to be more than “just another tool” is right on. Let’s continue the conversation. My email is [email protected]

Take care,

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