Causes on Facebook: ActBlue AWOL and MIA

Let me reiterate upfront that I think ActBlue is possibly the best single application that the progressive netroots have ever devised. It wasnt sufficient, but it was necessary, to the great victory in 2006. My intention in writing this diary is to push for greater utilization of this tool, not undermine it.

In a previous comment I argued that ActBlue is in danger of falling behind new rightwing imitators like Slatecard for two reasons: ActBlue offers no ability to "tag" a candidate or a user page, and ActBlue has virtually zero presence on the major social networking platforms. In this diary I describe a simple way that ActBlue can begin to address the latter: by working with Project Agape and hence be available to the Facebook application "Causes".

What is Project Agape? Let TechCrunch explain:

Charities, political parties and affinity groups all rely on participation from people who share the same beliefs and ideals. But recruiting and fundraising are largely stuck in the pre-Internet era: social pressure and guilt are applied to get others to donate to that marathon for the Leukemia society, or donate time working with the homeless. Parker wants to harness those proven incentive structures use his new startup to increase their effectiveness.

New sites like Change.org and dotherightthing and Six Degrees help people talk about issues online, but they don't go far enough in using virality to get new users and get them actually doing things. Parker wants the kind of activity around these organizations that Facebook sees - tens of thousands of new daily users and hours and hours of social interactions. The result, he says, will be a much more efficient engine for organizations to get volunteers and raise money.

The official site for Project Agape is a bit lean but they haven't been dormant; the first fruit of Project Agape is the new application on Facebook, Causes. Keep in mind that Facebook recently opened their development environment to third-party application developers. This means anyone can write an app for Facebook and share it with any other user.

Causes is simple. You pick your cause from a list, and it instantly appears on your profile. it tracks how much money you raised and how many people you referred who joined. it even includes (in MLM style) the money raised by people you referred in your fundraising total. (ActBlue, take note).

And critically, anyone can start a Cause. In fact, I tried - to create a Cause page for Draft Gore on ActBlue. And that was where  hit the brick wall - ActBlue is not registered with project Agape as a recipient of funds. I had to point my Draft Gore page at the Gore Foundation charity instead.

Note that this is not the first time this has been discussed on MyDD. Nancy Scola wrote a diary last month about Agape and Causes, interviewing Joe Green (one of the founders). I refer the reader to that diary. There was cursory discussion on that diary but I am stunned to see that nearly two months have passed and ActBlue still appears to see itself as a competitor rather than a partner with this new technology.

Bottom line is that ActBlue needs to partner with Project Agape immediately. Then ANY page on ActBlue can become a Cause - such as Netroots for Noriega or Draft Gore.

Keep in mind that the Save Darfur Cause on Facebook has 316,144 members, and raised $27,151. Stop Global Warming has 284,144 members and raised $4,478. Obviously these are the very epitome of small-dollar donations - the kind that the netroots is best-poised to leverage. ActBlue integrating with Causes gives us a massive entry point that we are pratically negligent in not exploiting.

Tags: actblue, causes, Facebok (all tags)

Comments

7 Comments

Re: Causes on Facebook: ActBlue AWOL and MIA

if anyone wants to start a myDD group on Facebook, ping me.

by azizhp 2007-07-28 12:37PM | 0 recs
Re: Causes on Facebook: ActBlue AWOL and MIA

If you do a little research you could see that a couple of the things you talk about are already done.  For one, there is already a MyDD group on facebook..

http://utexas.facebook.com/group.php?gid =2233822785

And Causes/Project Agape already uses ActBlue to process the funds for the Presidential candidates.

by The 13th Texan 2007-07-28 02:18PM | 0 recs
Re: Causes on Facebook: ActBlue AWOL and MIA

my bad about the myDD group. you're wrong about the rest - when i tried to setup a new Cause for my fundraising page or for Gore, ActBlue was not an option. They process the funds for the official declared candidates' campaigns, but NOT for the rest of the field. You cant donate to Draft Gore or to Noriega as a Cause via Facebook. thats a gigantic missed opportunity. youve misread my diary of you think the actblue-driven candidate donation pages are sufficient.

by azizhp 2007-07-28 02:25PM | 0 recs
Re: Causes on Facebook: ActBlue AWOL and MIA

Aziz -- I don't think you're being very fair to tell the 13th Texan that s/he "wrong about the rest".  ActBlue is indeed working with the Causes folks, and they decided to start simple with just the declared presidentials.  If you'd like to create a Cause to support other entities on ActBlue (e.g. Draft Gore or Noriega), by all means ask them!  I imagine they'd be open to the request if it came from someone serious about raising funds, and it's certainly easy for us.

If I might make a more general comment:

If you'd like to suggest some new functionality for consideration or have other questions, please feel free to ask us at info@actblue.com.  Getting the facts straight in advance would make for a more productive public discussion.

Accusing someone of being "AWOL" without first making a friendly inquiry seems a somewhat less effective method of getting your concerns addressed.  Everyone here at ActBlue is working overdrive, overtime, to strengthen the progressive movement, and suggestions to the contrary are not appreciated.

by brahn 2007-07-29 10:58AM | 0 recs
Re: Causes on Facebook: ActBlue AWOL and MIA

I didnt intend to imply that you are working to the contrary! if so, I apologize. I knew my post would sound a bit harsh, which is why I starte the diary with praise. My only aim here is to critique constructively. If Im not achieving that goal, then I will stop.

13th texan is right, there is a Facebook group on myDD, but thats something completely irrelevant to the point of my diary, which is that Facebook needs to partner with Project Agape to allow individual ActBlue Pages to be Causes. I am very glad you are partnered with Facebook for donating to the official candidates, but that is also irrelevant to my diary. A simple example: Netroots for Noriega. Is there a way I hav emissed by which someone using teh Causes application on Facebook can donate money directly to that ActBlue page? If so, then I have immense egg on my face and i will post a retraction diary. I dont think there is, however. Am I wrong?

by azizhp 2007-07-29 03:39PM | 0 recs
Re: Causes on Facebook: ActBlue AWOL and MIA

You're right that currently only declared presidential campaigns can beneficiaries of causes -- I was responding to the absoluteness of your statement "you're wrong about the rest."  13th Texan correctly pointed out that ActBlue is working with Causes, which in your original diary you seemed not to know.

Regarding the subtantive point: as mentioned above, the Causes folks wanted to start by keeping things simple and focusing just on the presidential candidates, but I'd encourage you to ask if they would be willing to support congressional candidates, etc.  

Linking causes and pages is certainly desirable, and I expect we'll get there at some point.  Can't give you a timeline, though, we've got a lot on our plate :-)

by brahn 2007-07-29 06:00PM | 0 recs
Re: Causes on Facebook: ActBlue AWOL and MIA

i am immensely gratified to know that its even on your plate. thats the only function of my diaries here on the topic.

by azizhp 2007-07-29 06:34PM | 0 recs

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