December 01, 2010

Guest Post: Why the Social Network Jumo Will Succeed

Editor’s Note: We challenged The Chronicle’s Twitter followers to assess whether the new social-networking site Jumo —started by the Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes—will succeed or fail. Nick DiColandrea, who works at a North Carolina nonprofit, (@NickDiCo) took on the challenge and offers the following guest post. You can also read an opposing argument about why Jumo will fail.

By Nick DiColandrea

When I was asked whether the new social network Jumo will succeed, my knee-jerk reaction was, "Of course, it will succeed as its social ancestor, Facebook, has."

But just because it copies a successful model does not mean Jumo will offer instant results for nonprofit groups that are looking for an influx of new supporters.

However, it also does not mean it will fail. If anything, Jumo will be set apart by not trying to reinvent the social-networking wheel.

Here is why Jumo will succeed: There's a need, it is easy to use, it offers unprecedented access for nonprofits, and it offers networking capability.

Facebook has been wildly successful because it created a seamless interaction for people to connect with friends and family in a creative way. Jumo will be successful because the nonprofit world needs one place where the public can connect with multiple nonprofits without leaving one Web page. Jumo will succeed where Causes (a Facebook application) falls short. Jumo will be more personal and provide a better experience for users who have true philanthropic passions.

The site will also succeed, in part, because nonprofits need help reaching the millennial generation (those born on or after 1981). These adults are connected online and are looking for ways to reach out to others. But the Internet and technology have failed to grab them in giving back to their community despite efforts like VolunteerMatch and Crowdrise, the social network started by the actor Edward Norton to help inspire young people to donate more. Crowdrise, after all, is less about charities than it is about the people who are helping the charities.

Jumo provides a service that Causes and  Twitter do not—the ability to view all the charities and issues they support on one home page. While Jumo will not be most people's daily home page (nor should it be), it will transform where people go for news on nonprofits and philanthropy. Through its personalized home page, Jumo provides recent news and discussions from dozens of your selected charities, all without having to dig through dozens of tweets and Web pages. As a result, Jumo will prove useful for encouraging volunteerism, donations, and networking as it grows in popularity.

Will Jumo help most charities raise significant sums of money for their operations? No, it will not. Instead Jumo will succeed in building communities and promote long-term relationships between charities and supporters.

While it is truly too early to tell if Jumo will succeed wildly—it's only been live since Tuesday, for goodness sake—its popularity can be seen in the level of interest it has received from the media. A New York Times story on Tuesday about Jumo's launch was one of the five most e-mailed stories on the newspaper's Web site.

With the arrival of Jumo as a potential heavyweight in supporting the missions of nonprofits throughout the United States, maybe, just maybe, the dog days of the Great Recession will end sooner than expected.

Nick DiColandrea works at nonprofit in Raleigh, N.C., and writes a blog about the nonprofit world.