Whatever Jumo is, it isn’t magic
I'm sure people sometimes confuse me with Harry Potter.
They invite me in to discuss a new piece of work and the conversation goes a little like this…
Hopeful fundraiser: We need to raise (insert very large sum of money of your choice here) urgently.
Me: Ok. What do you need it for?
Hopeful fundraiser: General running costs. We are looking at a shortfall. We need the money as soon as possible.
Me: What's the goal of your organisation?
Hopeful fundraiser: Fighting poverty.
Me: Can you give me some specific examples of what you do and what you've achieved?
Hopeful fundraiser: (sliding last year's annual report across the table) It's all in here.
Me: (quickly scanning through annual report trying to find something that I could use to interest a potential donor). I might need a little more than this. Have you any Interviews with those you've helped showing how you've changed peoples' lives? Any photographs? Case studies? Stories? Real life examples that I could use to demonstrate your organisational impact?
Hopeful fundraiser: Nope. Sorry. Our staff are too busy to collect that sort of information. It's not part of their core task. We just don't have the resources available for that.
Me: Any budget?
Hopeful fundraiser: (shakes head)
Me: Ok. That's not a problem. Let me just get my magic wand out and (theatrical flourish) hey presto! (money starts falling from the sky).
Hopeful fundraiser: Excellent. If you could do that again, it would send a great message to the trustees. They might even consider paying you next time.
I'm many things. But I'm not magic. And unfortunately, I don't think Jumo is either.
But before I explain why, I should perhaps give you a quick synopsis of what Jumo actually is just in case you haven't heard of it yet…
It was created by one of the people who brought you Facebook – Chris Hughes (who also looked after the online organisational activity for Barack Obama's election campaign and created my.barackobama.com).
And that sounds exciting doesn't it? Everyone uses Facebook (well 550 million of us do – which is about 8% of the global population).
And if there is something that Facebook knows a little about. It's getting people to do stuff online.
After joining Juno, you can choose to follow a selection of charities and other non-profits. You'll also notice that your Facebook friends who've also signed up will appear on your home page.
Your home page is filled with feeds from Facebook, Twitter, blogs and news sites updating you on what your charities are up to and what your friends are saying about them.
But as Hughes explains, at it's heart, Jumo is about building relationships…
"A relationship is built over time. Maybe you start volunteering. Maybe you do start to give money. Then maybe you tell all your friends and family and co-workers about it. You personally feel a sense of ownership, and the technology enhances that relationship".
In another interview, he adds…
"We're trying to avoid the classic feeling that a lot of people have when they start talking to a non-profit or NGO. It's always, 'Oh, they want my money.' But we're not going to start or end there."
"We are really more like a social news site. We believe that sustained giving happens only after you get to know an organisation."
"It [Jumo] becomes a bucket for all information that's being produced by or about the organisation, including links to everywhere they live on social media platforms."
People can give through Jumo (though only to US charities at the moment). All donations are handled by Network for Good and donors have an option to add a 'tip' to their gift to help fund Jumo. Then Network for Good "acknowledges the donation and send the donor a tax receipt."
Algorithms ensure the most relevant information from sources such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, blogs and news reports is pushed to the front of Jumo, based on how many people are liking or commenting. Each charity can also manually control what appears in a similar way to how an administrator might control a Facebook page.
But it is automation which Hughes believes is important. In a live discussion on The Chronicle of Philanthropy, he stated…
"We're trying to build technology to automate social media engagement. We know nearly all non-profits are resource constrained, so we're trying to automate things as much as possible, while at the same time enabling the organisations that do have people working in their social media sphere can use Jumo as a complement to their existing efforts"
"After the Obama campaign, I spent a year talking to as many people as I could in the international development world and in the social sector here domestically. The one thing that I kept hearing again and again was, "I am resource constrained. How can I find a tool that helps me use social media to engage my supporters but doesn't increase my costs?" Jumo grew out of that frustration."
And therein lies the problem.
When Chris spoke to charities, it looks like he heard something similar to my story – that they want magic – engaged and loyal supporters without having to put the work in to build relationships.
And though it is early days, I don't think Jumo is going to turn out to be the magic wand people are looking for. My Jumo is delivering a random series of disjointed chunks of information from various feed sources that talk about a wide range of areas of different charities' work, but really don't engage at all. My facebook friends are rather quiet too.
It's like reading a giant compendium of various charities' annual newsletters and annual reports. It is quite a chore. I'm not getting much sense of a relationship at all.
But that doesn't mean Jumo is a waste of time. It can work – but only if charities are willing to put the time and effort in to make the content valuable.
Donors respond to organisations that show them that they are special, that personalise communications, that tell them relevant and engaging stories and that demonstrate that the organisation knows who they are and shows them that they are valued.
That means the automation needs to be turned off on Jumo. Instead charities should concentrate on combining it with DM appeals and emails as a means to show people what their gifts are doing. That way it could develop into something rather fantastic.
Otherwise it could present your charity to your donors in a similar way to those boring corporate Facebook accounts that no one wants to 'friend'. And we all know what they look like…
With thanks for the illustration to Tom Fishburne which is packed full of great cartoons that he allows bloggers to feature for free. Thanks also to @jeffbrooks of futurefundraisingnow.com for the heads up on Tom's work.