Challenges Jumo Poses for Local Charities

As you can imagine, I think about the state of civic engagement and philanthropy in our city a lot. How do we use technology to engage more people? How do we use technology to inspire more offline action? How do we reach people who have never been involved before? And because of my community orientation, I can't help but notice the way large-scale efforts like Jumo absorb the media attention and funding available in the space, but leave small communities and organizations out of the conversation.

The first thing I did when I could finally log into Jumo was look for Alexandria charities. Jumo is based around issues you want to follow but it does provide a chance to follow local projects--after you've made all of your other selections. What did I find under Alexandria in Jumo? With the exception of ACT for Alexandria, I found national charities and associations with Alexandria addresses. What I wanted to find was some of the local charities serving the local community---charities like Community Lodgings, Carpenter's Shelter, ALIVE!, The Reading Connection, Healthy Families Alexandria, Alexandria Neighborhood Health Services, Friends of Guest House, etc. All great local charities who assist people in our city and who need our help.

Challenges Jumo poses for small, local charities:

  1. It makes it the responsibility of small, local charities to add themselves to Jumo--no so small a task for many small organizations operating on a shoe-string without designated social media or communications staff. The site then has to be maintained, people have to be followed, and the content must be monitored. And from the looks of existing pages, monitoring is a necessity because Jumo is pulling in news and other feeds that might not be related to your organization at all.
  2. You can donate to local charities once they are on Jumo, but you have to use Jumo's donation mechanism. They don't point you back to the nonprofits own donation process--taking away from what is sometimes a minimal but painstakingly developed online presence over years.
  3. Most importantly, you must OPT OUT of an additional donation tip for Jumo that defaults to 15%! For a small organization, that's a hefty chunk of your donation going somewhere else.

It's definitely possible that small organizations will benefit from Jumo's efforts on their behalf--providing them with another point of contribution and interaction--but I wonder if how effective it will be for them? My sense is that it's easy for small organizations without the resources to use it effectively to get lost on Jumo.

A few months ago, I gave a presentation about what I see as the need to return to local efforts at IgniteDC called "Back to Barnraising: Why Hyperlocal Is The Future for Online Civic Engagement and Philanthropy" (See Slide Share version below) because, when you look at the reasons people give/volunteer, it's clear that they prefer to do so locally. According to a study at the University of Kent, people choose social actions using three criteria:

  • The action is easy to find.
  • The action speaks to their personal background.
  • The action makes them feel like they are making a difference personally.

And local giving makes impact questions like "Who did I help?" and "What difference did I make?" much easier to answer, making for a more satisfying philanthropic experience.

Jumo isn't all bad--there is much good there. But like many large scale online projects, it forgot about the small guys during the planning process.

While projects similar to Jumo have been very successful (Citizen Effect, Change.org, etc.), what they've made apparent is that what is often most difficult to do, is to help those living closest to us--in our town, on our street, on our block. (Citizen Effect's Citizen Gulf Day of Action is a successful exception.) I believe that the next generation of online civic engagement tools and platforms must address this most basic need--neighbors helping neighbors. That's what we're striving to do and we hope you'll help.

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[...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Shane Hankins, ACTion Alexandria. ACTion Alexandria said: Challenges Jumo Poses for Local Charities http://bit.ly/gvb10q [...]

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