Facebook Co-founder Starts Jumo — A Social Network for Charities

Can the power of social networking translate into a tool for social activism on a global scale? The online community is about to find out with the beta launch this week of Jumo, the do-good site created by Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes.

Can the power of social networking translate into a tool for social activism on a global scale? The online community is about to find out with the beta launch this week of Jumo, the do-good site created by Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes.

Hughes did not stray far from his roots in creating Jumo.com, a Facebook-style site that allows users to find, “follow,” and support causes important to them, from among 3,500 organizations in 200 issue areas.

The site stands apart from previous attempts to extend the social networking model to the world of philanthropy by allowing users to “follow” charities and causes. The goal is for users to develop relationships with the philanthropies and causes they support.

“Unlike other groups in the space, we’re not interested in the big red donate button. We’re not interested in a one-time donation on your friend’s birthday or a $10 text message to a cause or organization you never return to,” the site said in a blog post.

The site is organized like a social network. Users sign in via Facebook Connect and can then select the “Issues” they’re interested in, follow their issues’ pages, develop a profile, or browse the “Talk” section for updates on the projects and people they follow.

Each user also has a homepage that with their own newsfeed, a feature familiar to all Facebook users, that shows updates from all the projects, people and issues the user is following.

What philanthropists, cultural observers and techies alike will be looking for with Jumo’s launch is whether this new model can push the site to success where others have failed.

Yahoo launched Yahoo for Good in 2006 that allowed users to place charitable donation badges on their Web sites. The site has since been refocused on environmental issues, and the list of the badges has been removed.

Others, like Facebook’s own Causes, and GlobalGiving.org, have seen more success but are more donation-focused than what Jumo intends to be.

The focus on relationships as opposed to monetary donations may help the site gain steam in the near term as charities have seen their donations decline in the poor economy. The Chronicle of Philanthropy’s annual study found that donations to the top 400 private charities it tracks fell 11 percent this year.

And that did not escape Hughes, who left Facebook in 2007 to become the director of online organizing for the Barack Obama presidential campaign.

“When I founded Jumo earlier this year, I had simple vision: use networking technology to connect individuals and organizations working for global change,” Hughes said in the site’s blog. “I wanted to build a network to help everyday people find, follow, and support those working day in and day out to make change happen in our communities and in regions around the world.

Still to come for Jumo are news articles, Twitter posts and YouTube videos that will be added to the pages. There is also a feature where users can add their own feedback and comments, just like Facebook.