I have to admit, like most others in the nonprofit tech community, I’ve been disappointed by Jumo‘s debut. I won’t reiterate the litany of complaints (you can read some of the most well wrought ones in this post by Amy Sample Ward here; don’t forget the smart comments on that thread, too), but I will say that it would be nearly impossible for Jumo to live up to the expectations that many brought to the new platform.
Expectations is exactly what I want to talk about today. Jumo says it is “a social network connecting individuals and organizations who want to change the world.” It’s been called Yelp for nonprofits. With its Facebook pedigree (and mandatory integration), we in the nonprofit community had high hopes. A social network for nonprofits and world-changers? Sign me up.
Jumo may not be what we expected, but it still may have value. I went back and read some of the interviews Jumo founder Chris Hughes has given, and took note of what he says he’s after with Jumo:
Here’s what that means to us: we want to make it possible everyday people to find, follow, and support organizations and projects that are important to them.
I should add to that that we also think of ourselves as a web and (eventually) mobile service, not a destination site. It’s our responsibility to make sure people can keep up with the orgs that they care about on an ongoing basis.
Your Facebook fans can see what you update on Facebook; your Jumo followers can see your updates from across the web.
…Up until now, there has not been any central place for people to find, follow, or support existing organizations on the web. You can do that for restaurants, for movies, for books — you name it — but somehow not for the social sector.
Quotes above from http://philanthropy.com/article/Facebook-Meets-Charity/125640/
A central place for finding stuff, is Google. If we want to discover, follow, or connect with issues and organizations we care about, we use google and go look. People are pretty good at that, we should give them credit….
To Joe’s point, I’ll offer a personal example. Recently my niece had some complications from brain surgery and there was a pretty good chance she would end up with hydropcephalus (water on the brain). She’s since made a full recovery, but while the danger was still present I went in search of any support and research I could find—using Google. I found the Hydrocephalus Association, which had a number of good resources. After I knew about the organization, I became a fan on Facebook. They’re not on Jumo.
But within this story may lie Jumo’s sweet spot. Hughes has said it himself:
What if instead of thinking of Jumo as a social network for nonprofits and people who are passionate about issues, we think of Jumo as a dashboard through which individuals who are interested enough to end up on our websites, would also be able to get a quick glimpse of what is happening in an organization’s social presences?
At the Forum, we use Netvibes and other services to monitor web communications around phrases that are important to our organization, but that’s for our use. Jumo could act as a public facing communications dashboard.
As the web stands now, we all have a bunch of widgets and embedded features on our sites that are streaming our Tweets and encouraging you to Like us and read our most recent blog post and everything else. It’s kind of messy. What if there was an easily embeddable, elegant Jumo installation that could sit on an organization’s webpage as an enticing way for the casually interested to see what the organization is up to? I’d be interested in that, both as a user and an administrator.
For it to work, Jumo would have to do a lot better at giving organizations granular control of what appears on their Jumo page, but it could work. Imagine if most nonprofit webpages you visited had a standard, clean way for you to glimpse their social media efforts, giving you the most up-t0-date information and a feel for the org’s personality. I’d click that link. Besides, if Jumo wants people to take action, an organization’s website seems to be the place that happens. Hughes has said himself that Jumo is not a destination site. If that’s the case, give nonprofits the tools to bring the best of Jumo’s capabilities to the people who are looking for us, and already finding our websites.