Who Are You?
Posted by Allison Fine on February 20, 2009
In find myself asking this one question a lot recently. And it’s making me cranky (yes, I know, crankier than usual!) Because one of the greatest attributes of the Connected Age is people connecting with one another. But when companies or organizations hide behind social media tools and make it difficult to figure out who they are and what they’re trying to accomplish it is very aggravating.
Here’s an example: ActiveCause. It is part of a slew of new social networking sites for causes. The site is very slick, calling for a higher purpose in philanthropy:
Financial donations are just one part of your giving power – learn how to take philanthropy to a higher level with The Social Giving Network.
I don’t really know what that means. So, I click on the tab for contact us and get a form. I clicked around and can’t find any people on this social site – no Twitter feed, no blog, no About Us. I assume it is intended to be a money making operation, perhaps by taking a percentage of donations given, but that isn’t specified anywhere.
Beth wrote the other day about the difficulty that she had tracking down the cause associated with the Tweetathon:.
I looked the charity up on guidestar and could not find a nonprofit named “Water for Life” that had Ken Surritte listed as the contact. On the Water is Life site there is not a fleshed about “About” page that tells me anything about the organization’s board, founding, budget, or a donation link. After a bit of googling, I discovered that the nonprofit has a different name “Hearts and Hands International” and the Water Is Life is a project. (Still couldn’t find them on Guide Star or Networked for Good perhaps their 501-c3 is under a different name?)
Should it be that difficult to track down a legitimate cause?
A few thoughts.
First, radical transparency has to become a standard operating procedure for nonprofits and companies using social media. The onus isn’t on us, the user, to figure out who you are. The responsibility lies with you to explain who you are and what you’re doing.
Second, if you’re in the business primarily of making money, please tell me rather than hide behind phrases like “giving power”. I’m not fragile, I won’t crumble because a dot com has found out that millions of people give millions of dollars to causes every year and you want a piece of that. Of course, it’s a crowded field and others are already doing it, and doing it well, like Network For Good and Change.org.
Third, nonprofit organizations have an even greater responsibility to be radically transparent than businesses — and no reason not to be. Please put up your tax returns, your board minutes, your strategic plans, org charts, whatever you have, put them up and show the world that you have nothing to hide. It’s going to be a very difficult year to raise money, and transparency will help you to do that. It used to be that all you needed was a heart-tugging cause. There are too many causes and too much need to rely only on that strategy now. We need to know why you need money, how you use it, and, most importantly, who you are to make our giving decision.
But most of all, I need people to talk to online. I need to see the faces of staff people, I need someone to answer questions who has a name, I need to connect with them personally. So, please, tell me Who You Are!
The Social Giving Network.
This entry was posted on February 20, 2009 at 1:42 pm and is filed under Social Media. Tagged: ActiveCause, beth kanter, Change.org, network for good. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.
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