Wednesday, December 1, 2010

I'm Too Spoiled for Facebook Causes Birthday Wish

As a 'Millenial", I find that I have become spoiled when it comes to personalized attention from companies, organizations, and political candidates.  Much like New Hampshire voters who expect to see a candidate knocking on their door at least 3x before the primary election, I expect my support to be courted and appreciated. 

I'm starting to have such feelings about Facebook Causes, and more specifically, the Birthday Wish application.  On one hand, the vast majority of my friends work in the public sector (welcome to young professionals in Washington, D.C.), and therefore I'm sure use it more often than the average American.  That being said, Facebook Causes has been criticized as doing more to raise awareness than to actually raise money.  But here's where my real problem lies: I don't understand the relationship between the Facebook Causes Birthday Wish application, and the cause itself. 

I've done some digging and it seems that Facebook Causes donates the money in one bulk on a monthly basis to the charity.  It appears that Network for Good (which operates all this) doesn't "share or give your information to anyone."  I presume that means to the charity as well.  Big Mistake.  They should at least give you the option of allowing your information to be shared.  I know, I know, we all value our privacy and don't want to be solicited morning, noon, and night for money, especially in this economy.  But I spent a lot of time, money, and effort soliciting donations this year for Women for Women International, an organization I care deeply about and a cause that has always been near and dear to my heart.  After all that effort, I raised almost $1,000 in $20 increments from various friends, coworkers, and acquaintances.  Plus an additional $1,500 that my high school government donated in my name

Frankly, I expected at least some kind of acknowledgement from Women for Women International.  I am not a regular donor, I don't have an account with them, and maybe my $2,500 wasn't the largest donation they've ever received, but I raised money (not to mention awareness) for their organization at the expense of any other organization.  I expect a thank you card.  If I had donated $10 via their website, an automated reply would have come to my inbox, thanking me for my support and giving me more information about the organization.

What's the biggest downside for them?  Loyalty.  Believe it or not, my birthday does come around every year (although I've turned 25 several times now, I admit).  But without that personal touch, a letter of acknowledgement and thanks from the organization, I feel much less inclined to use my network to donate again.  By the way, this isn't unique to this organization.  Last year I picked My Sister's Place as my beneficiary with the same result.

Maybe there are logistics at work here that I'm unaware of.  Maybe legally, Network for Good had to guarantee that they wouldn't release this information - even the information of the person doing the fundraising.  I don't know.  But I do know that in this day and age of instant communications and instant gratification, I do expect to be courted, acknowledged, and appreciated for my efforts.  There is a new website launching called Jumo, started by a founder of Facebook, which hopes to connect people with charities and nonprofits.  I hope it makes an effort to not just be a third party bridge, but also to truly connect the person with the cause.  We'll see.

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