Social networking meets nonprofit fundraising / friendraising

project-agapeLet’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 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: …. 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?

5 thoughts on “Social networking meets nonprofit fundraising / friendraising”

  1. Sounds awesome! Any idea when they’re launching? Can people sign up for their private beta?

  2. Hi Peter – If you’re with a nonprofit, you can sign up by e-mailing the address in the post. I think that’s the only way for now.

  3. Firstgiving is a company that uses social networking to promote social causes. It’s a website that helps anyone create a free personalized fundraising page for any non-profit registered through GuideStar, a national registry of non-profits. After you create your fundraising page you can promote it on MySpace, Facebook and/or your blog with a widget or fundraising badge. It’s an easy way to supplement social networks that you are already on with a cause you are passionate about.

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