Let’s talk about something new: Earlier this week I went to web demo, hosted by the Nonprofit Roundtable, for the beta-version of the mysterious “Project-Agape.” Project-Agape is Sean Parker’s attempt to bring viral principles to nonprofit fundraising and volunteer recruiting. (Parker is the guy who co-founded Napster and Plaxo, and was the founding president of Facebook.)
What’s Parker trying to do with this new project? From Techcrunch:
New sites like Change.org and dotherightthing and Six Degrees help people talk about issues online, but they don’t go far enough in using virality to get new users and get them actually doing things. Parker wants the kind of activity around these organizations that Facebook sees – tens of thousands of new daily users and hours and hours of social interactions. The result, he says, will be a much more efficient engine for organizations to get volunteers and raise money.
So, the virality of Facebook, but with networks of users centered around causes and nonprofits instead of colleges and highschools. It’s free for nonprofits. I asked Randall (from Project-Agape) how nonprofits can get involved while it’s still in development, and he said:
Organizations can just send me an email if they want to sign up, and you can post my address on the blog: email@example.com …. just send an email with the heading “NONPROFIT SIGN UP” with following information: organization name, administrative contact name, and email address
So there you go, nonprofits–get in on the ground floor. If you’re already registered when they launch, you might have a better chance of attracting users to your cause–a first-mover advantage, who knows.
I’m pretty excited. If they can give this new site the same kind of stickiness that Facebook has, and cross-promote with Facebook as they mentioned they would, it could really grow. We’ll see.
What do trends like this mean for foundations? Individuals are already responsible for 3/4 of charitable giving. Right now individual giving isn’t very organized, but that could change over time as people get their hands on better fundraising/networking/communications tools–something to allow them to coordinate their efforts. Project-Agape could be one such tool.
Seems to me that foundations need to embrace these developments, help their grantees figure out how to take advantage of these new tools, and find ways to work with new grassroots funding groups as they spring up. And I think it could be a little messy along the way, in the same way that traditional media and “new media” (blogs) are still figuring out how to co-exist. What do you think?