Facebook Causes Presentation at BASES


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  • Thanks for having me here; I’ve given a lot of presentations over the past couple of years, but this is the first on a beautiful Caribbean island.
  • Our goals and theories; the premises upon which the company operates (warning: there is a history lesson here) For those of you who are not very familiar, I want to highlight a few features of our platform and talk about how it is different from other social media tools Specific strategies for nonprofits and a few case studies
  • Mission statements, including this one, are often broad and sweeping, so let’s talk about what this is, and what it isn’t. It’s significant that we don’t mention nonprofit organizations, political parties, or any other formal institutions in this mission statement. That’s not because we don’t think about them or care about them, but because we are primarily focused on individuals, and figuring out how to empower them to meaningfully participate in social and political change. Our first priority is individual empowerment, and our belief is that by empowering individuals we will ultimately create a greater impact in the world (at the same probably—hopefully—shaking up the nonprofit and political sectors quite a bit). Why individual empowerment, why now? Generally, we care about making the world a better place, but the rationale for this approach is the internet and developments in online tech over the past six years. Background notes: We are part of a technological revolution—some call it Web 2.0—that is going to have a substantial influence on philanthropic, volunteering, voting and advocacy, and all sorts of other civic activities that individuals engage in. It’s the focus on individual empowerment that makes us “social media”. We’re confident that open, transparent, accountable, and participatory/decentralized structures (to use some of the catchwords of the Web 2.0 or social media world) are going to play an increasingly important role in the future of civic participation. So, now that I’ve offer some vague theory at 35,000 feet, what the heck am I really talking about?
  • We’ve seen changes in media in the past, and when media changes, our manner of communicating and exchanging ideas and information changes, and that impacts virtually everything else in society. 6.5 million people, half were slaves, white property owning men were the only voters -population of US during the 20s: ? Fireside chats had the same proportions of americans tune in as todays’ superbowls do now, so few options b/c only top down,
  • [these numbers are looking at the US specifically) The jumping off point for this discussion is a powerful change in media, and specifically the Internet of the past five years or so. In the 1990s, Internet usages was still relatively small (in numbers and time spent online) and anonymous. You navigated as an anonymous entity, without identity, which really restricted what you could do online. So much of our lives is made up of social relationships and exchange, so the Internet was quite limited. A couple of major companies tried to solve this by promoting a universal identification tool that would serve as a universal login for Internet users: Microsoft with Passport and AOL with Magic Carpet (big news in 2001). Neither worked for a variety of reasons, including the process being cumbersome (who wants to voluntarily share a bunch of personal information with MS or AOL for sort of vague benefits. A universal login, if that is all that it is, is more valuable to those companies than the user and verification took some work. But not if it unlocks their entire social world online, as FB found. The other reason, as these numbers show, is that not everyone was online. A social network is only valuable if represents a large proportion of your close friends. Imagine the phone. Would it be useful if you could only reach 24% of the people you currently call? You’d look for another way to reach them. By 2004 usage was high enough to support MySpace and Facebook. One of the key insights they had was that you could use social verification of identity, which is really how it works in the real world. Other than buying drinks at a bar or getting pulled over for speeding, you don’t usually have to pull out one of these to prove your identity. In fact, none of you have seen any ID from me. I’m Matt Mahan because the PEP organizers say I am, and they say I am because the folks who introduced us say I am, and so on. Our offline interactions operate according to social verification. And as you’ve probably all realized by now, the internet is not a place to meet new people as much as it is a place to add a new dimension to existing relationships. I have 1700 friends on FB and while they aren’t all “friends” in the strict sense, it is significant that I met nearly every single one of them offline before meeting them online. Used to be that you would “go online” like it was this other world, but no more the case. In the last few years we’ve seen a radical change in the nature of online interaction and the technologies that support it. Imagine this: when George Bush ran for reelection Facebook did not exist, Twitter did not exist, and smart phones were rare. Just over a decade ago, in 1998, there were about 65 million Internet users in the U.S. who participated in some sort of online community, such as a chat room. Do you remember those? Another great place to meet girls. The problem was that the relationships formed online were purely virtual; sure, they sometimes were taken offline, but most started and ended online and you carried a random “handle” (as it was called) around the Internet with you. I’m sure we have DCDogEnthusiast and John2000 somewhere around here, but you never introduced yourself in real life with that name. Well, beginning 6 or 7 years ago a few companies began to introduce what we call “authentic identity” to the internet. This happening for private transactions, like online banking, but it wasn’t widespread and it wasn’t social. Suddenly, it was normal to be who you were offline when online. It also became increasingly common for the average Internet user to produce content (blogging, creating a website, commenting on articles, etc.). You have the rise of early social networks, such as Friendster and MySpace. Then came Facebook. Now I may be biased, but I think the data demonstrates that Facebook got it right. For one, the fact that Facebook started at Harvard, a relatively small and exclusive campus, where everyone knew everyone (or was never more than two or three degrees separated from anyone else) and where belonging and being connected was highly valued, gave the company the right culture. Within a few months of launching, half the campus was on Facebook. When Mark took Facebook to neighboring schools, the reality was that nearly everyone at Harvard knew at least one person at Princeton, and then everyone at Harvard and Princeton, knew at least one person at Yale, and so on. So, Facebook maintained a very high penetration rate through that early expansion, which meant that your Facebook network, while it might be missing friends and family from home, it actually mirrored your immediate, socially relevant network. And you had to be online who you were offline, for the most part. Everyone who accepted your friend request in essence verified that you were who you said you were. So while MySpace was plagued with fake accounts and real people creating a new “space” every 6 months, Facebook steadily spread through each social network, starting with Ivy League Schools, then other universities, then high schools, then the country, and then countries around the world.
  • How a does a many-to-many system work? A lot of nodes connected to one another. Define node: technical term for a individual identity in the network that can send and receive information. You have nodes, linkages or connections, and objects that can be shared between nodes over those linkages. I’d argue it’s a lot like our normal every day lives, just mapped onto a Here’s a screen shot of my profile sometime last year. I got a haircut. Notice that it’s my real name, real photo, accurate information about me, and a list of friends and acquaintances who I know offline.
  • People at Facebook like to talk about the social graph, or the sum total of all relationships in our world (friend to friend, but also now “fan” to institution, any of which are nodes). A disconnected node is cut off and is unable to do much of anything; it’s through connections that nodes become powerful. It’s not super pretty, but you get the idea. Facebook would like, with the help of its users, to map the entire social graph online, creating linkages for all of the connections we have offline and facilitating more efficient, diverse, and dynamic sharing or communication between them. Define node: technical term for a individual identity in the network that can send and receive information. You have nodes, linkages or connections, and objects that can be shared between nodes over those linkages. Nodes can be individuals (profiles) or organizations (Pages) which in many ways act as humans.
  • And they are doing that. 400 million active users (half of whom log in each day) Read the rest of them, ALSO, The Neilsen Company (the guy who give us viewer/user ratings for TV and everything else) just reported that in 2009, people in 10 “major countries” including the US spent on average 5 hours and 35 minutes during the month on social media sites (this is not the average for people who are on Facebook, this is country-wide average). Still dwarfed by television, but again, Facebook is 5 years old and this number is up nearly 100% from the year before. It will probably double again in 2010. So, are people connecting and sharing? I think they are, and while we can certainly criticize the depth of this engagement, we have to remember that Facebook is only 5 years old and we’re seeing not only the number of people, and the length of time per person, but the quality of the engagement increase every day (hard to measure, but I think we can make general comments about what people are doing). Is Facebook going to take over the world? No, and that’s irrelevant. What is relevant is that the internet will forevermore be social (whether it’s on Facebook not), and be a place where people connect with one another, learn, share, question, and take action.
  • Just how much activity? Well, we are adding between 150 and 250 thousand people per day to the application; over 100 million people have installed our toolset on Facebook, and on average one –third of these users are active on a monthly basis. The reason I say that we are a platform within a platform is that we are not simply a destination where people go to donate or sign a petition; we are a place where go to create fundraising campaigns, petitions, and all of the communities to sustain these and other action campaigns. This is “cause-related user-generated content” on a massive scale, and we’re seeing that the higher quality causes are rising to the top (many managed by nonprofit employees, but certainly not all. Our largest cause, in fact, was set up for the Arkansas Children’s Hospital by a 16 year old high school girl who wanted to help the hospital but didn’t have time to volunteer). And to give you an idea of the kind of growth we’re seeing on our platform, here’s a chart of fundraising since our inception...
  • We allow anyone with an internet connection to create a cause, which is a community of people who care about a specific issue (or the work of a specific organization), and have banded together to accomplish something. Causes are usually small—on the order of hundreds or thousands, and like local chapters—but can also spread like wildfire through extended networks of friends, reaching several million members. Causes vs. causes Unfortunately, as you might guess, we’ve created a bit of confusion with the name “Causes”. We’re technically incorporated as Philotic (borrowed from Enders Game; referring to a sort of string theory concept), we started this project under the not-so-secret code name of “Project Agape (referring to the Greek concept of fraternal or brotherly love), but ultimately the name that stuck was “Causes”, because, well, it’s a heck of a lot simpler. So there is Causes, the company, with a capital “C”, and causes, the online communities of like-minded people trying to accomplish something, with a lower-case “c”. Anyone on Facebook can create a cause—in fact, over 375,000 of them have been created—and can then begin to recruit friends…
  • Spread awareness about their issue or campaign, not just by personally inviting friends, but by posting stories to their profile, adding badges, including the cause in their email signature, etc, etc…
  • promoting petitions and advocacy campaigns…
  • And then fundraise for a specific organization or project (all fundraising causes have to identify a registered 501c3 and then Network for Good, a nonprofit, does the processing and delivers a monthly check to each nonprofit)…
  • Here’s an image of the secure donation form…
  • As you can see, donations in 2009 are up more than 3 times over 2008. In the interest of full disclosure we launched the application well into 2007, so donation didn’t really start ramping up until we began focusing on fundraising tools in 2009. You may also notice that this doesn’t quite reach $20 million (that’s because we’ve done about $2 million in Jan, which puts us over $20 million total in about 30 months). I expect these numbers to double next year. Of course, on the other hand, I know some of you are out there saying, “So what? $14 million? $28 million? Even $280 million…it’s a drop in the bucket”. Philanthropy in the U.S. is annually a $300 billion-plus sector.” This is nice for a start-up, really great if it’s your bank account, but transformative? Not yet. And so what I’d like to talk to you about today is why I think what we’re doing is transformative and why I think it’s highly relevant to the work that you all do, whether running a nonprofit or provide services to those who do. To begin to do this, I want to go back to a little bit of theory and history, and share with you our reading of the evolution of civic participation in the United States and what it means for nonprofits organizations, political involvement, and really at a basic level, what people spend their thinking about, doing, and giving money to (which after all, are really the things we have to be interested in).
  • promoting petitions and advocacy campaigns…
  • Tricky step for nonprofits, which are now used to being able to buy a list. But remember that every organization started with a list of one. Recruit friends…here’s a cause inviter interface from which I can see which of my friends are already in a cause, and then have a list of all my other Facebook friends, who I might or might not want to invite. Depending on what cause you support, it can help to remember your friends’ political persuasions when inviting them to your favorite cause…unless of course your cause is saving puppies; that tends to be a pretty uncontroversial one.
  • And of course for the individual user there is a overview or homepage that allows him or her to track personal achievements, manage all of their causes, etc….some of us clearly have too many causes and are struggling to stay active in all of them…but the great thing is that causes come in all shapes, sizes, and goals, and some do great work and then fall apart while others continue to grow, and some never get off the ground. It’s a very dynamic space, and I’m constantly surprised and excited by the number of little experiments going on across our platform.
  • Some of the opportunities and campaigns are created by nonprofits, which is why we’ve built a pretty robust backend Partner Center that helps nonprofits serve as publishers (or content creators), campaign coordinators, and trusted allies, but again, the focus is on the individuals and communities they build, not a particular brand or organization…
  • Peer-to-Peer organizing; people are 80% more likely to donate if asked by a friend; Obama campaign as a model. Well, we’re not Obama. True, but you can learn from what he did. These groups operated through what we today might call a “traditional grassroots organizing” model. Participation was broad and decentralized. Supporters organized themselves into local chapters or sub-associations that met regularly in homes, churches, schools, or local local meeting places. When information spread it did so through local leaders who had deep relationships with members of the organization. And those leaders relationships with the state or national office allowed information to flow both ways. But most importantly, most of the activity took place at the local level and between people who know each other well. This was part of every day life, part of people’s identity, gave them meaning and helped build that social capital and trust that we just talked about.
  • Many-to-Many; think of it as kids as a birthday party. Sometimes one kid gets all of the others’ attention by being especially creative, but it doesn’t last long. So yes, brand loyalty is harder to create, but there are opportunities in the fluidity as well. I want to bring you back to this concept of Causes as a platform within a platform. Okay, Facebook is this place where there is a lot of social capital. People are connecting and sharing. We’ve chosen to build our tools on top of this social network because it represents an incredible potential for empowering the individual to meaningfully participate in civic society in a much more robust way than many of them have felt empowered to do for a very long time. Other channels tend to be one-way; and top-down; people being talked at and maybe they respond, maybe they don’t. In social media, everyone can participate, but that doesn’t mean that everyone participates equally; those with the best ideas or most compelling content generally gain the most support, but of course, that support is less stable. This is far more dynamic ecosystem; people respond quickly to information, but that doesn’t mean that they don’t have specific interests or concerns. We have hundreds of local causes supporting single nonprofits. Humane Society has over 2,000 cause communities with some 5 million supporters… People get more and more information and base more decisions on their peers. I read an increasing number of news articles based on what my friends are reading and posting on Facebook. We also tap into the desire for social recognition and people’s responsiveness to social pressure. When you get a piece of mail in the privacy of your own home, there is none of the social benefit of being recognized for sending in a check, and there is no social stigma attached with never sending in a check. People want to associate with like-minded individuals and take collective action to achieve goals they find personally meaningful. And all of this gets us back to the concept of organizing. Getting things done in a social capital rich world (which is very different from a social capital poor world in which people are less connected) takes a different set of practices, ones that we haven’t really used in America—at least not in most large nonprofit organizations—for a very long time. It requires grassroots organizing, which is what we see ourselves enabling our little corner of the world. Organizations that are successful in this new world will learn to organize through and with their supporters. They will have to empower those individuals. Is any of this exclusive of large organizations? Do I think that they will die off or cease to be relevant? I don’t. Today’s organizations grew for a reason. They have developed the expertise and capacity to bring about significant impact all over the world. I have a hard time imaging a spontaneous online gathering of concerned citizens organizing itself to airlift supplies into Haiti and perform medical procedures. It could happen, but I think the real potential lies in the meeting of these two forces: flexible organizations will learn to work more creatively with their supporters to harness the latent power of those networks. In the 21 st century, I predict that successful nonprofit organizations will re-learn aspects of grassroots organizing and adapt their model to cultivate and accommodate the participation of volunteers.
  • Facebook Causes Presentation at BASES

    1. 1. Chris Chan and Susan Gordon
    2. 2. Presentation Overview <ul><li>Causes’ Mission </li></ul><ul><li>Theory of Change </li></ul><ul><li>Causes: What and How </li></ul>
    3. 3. <ul><li>Causes seeks to empower individuals to mobilize their personal networks to grow lasting social and political movements that make the world a better place. </li></ul>
    4. 4. <ul><li>Early Republic </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Pamphlets and Townhall Meetings </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>1789 Election: </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Mass Media: 1920’s to Today </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Fireside Chats, Television </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>1932 Election: </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Social Media: 2000’s </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Facebook, Twitter, blogs </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>2008 Election: </li></ul></ul>Evolution of Media Forms in U.S. History 38,818 voters 39,751,898 voters 131,257,328 voters
    5. 5. <ul><li>“ Community” (1998) </li></ul><ul><ul><li>~65 million Internet users, 24% of U.S. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>virtual relationships </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>pseudonymous / anonymous </li></ul></ul><ul><li>“ Social Media” (2008) </li></ul><ul><ul><li>~212 million Internet users, 74% of U.S. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>representation of off-line social network </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>real names / real identity </li></ul></ul>The Internet Gets Real
    6. 6. Facebook Profile
    7. 7. The Social Graph
    8. 8. <ul><li>400 million active users </li></ul><ul><li>2.5 billion photos uploaded to the site each month </li></ul><ul><li>3.5 billion pieces of content (web links, news stories, blog posts, notes, photo albums, etc.) shared each week </li></ul><ul><li>3.5 million events created each month </li></ul><ul><li>700,000 local businesses have active Pages on Facebook </li></ul><ul><li>Average user has 140 friends on the site </li></ul><ul><li>Average user sends 8 friend requests per month </li></ul><ul><li>Average user spends more than 55 minutes per day on Facebook </li></ul><ul><li>Average user writes 25 comments on Facebook content each month </li></ul><ul><li>Average user is invited to 3 events per month </li></ul><ul><li>Average user is a member of 12 groups </li></ul>Facebook Facts
    9. 9. Causes Application Stats <ul><ul><li>100 million installed users </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>400,000 user-created causes </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>14,000 official nonprofit partners </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>$22 million donated in 2.5 years </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>1 million media views per day </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Distribution to 400 million active users on FB </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Donations supported to all 1.5M U.S. nonprofits </li></ul></ul>
    10. 10. A “cause”
    11. 11. Empower and Identify Leaders
    12. 12. Set and Pursue Goals
    13. 13. Raise Awareness
    14. 14. Run Advocacy Campaigns
    15. 15. Fundraise
    16. 16. Donate
    17. 17. Donations on Causes
    18. 18. Birthday Wish
    19. 19. Members Recruit Their Friends
    20. 20. Repeat Engagement: User Homepage
    21. 21. Nonprofits: Partner Center
    22. 22. Decentralized Organizing Model
    23. 23. <ul><li>Multi-directional & Hyper-decentralized </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Everyone is a publisher; many-to-many communication </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Bottom-up ideas, organization, and action </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Peer-driven </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Social referral / “Virality” </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Social recognition and pressure / Identity </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Communal </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Belonging </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Collective Action </li></ul></ul>A Unique Medium