Jumo: Good for the Jews? (Guest Post: Tova Serkin)

Let’s get right down to it. Jumo is a new social networking platform that intends to improve the way nonprofits, organizations, and individuals communicate online.

But what value does it have given how many others options are already available? Does it offer us something beyond the benefits of Facebook? And most importantly, is it good for the Jews? I asked Tova Serkin, a leading expert in Jewish peoplehood and nonprofit fundraising to find out.

Tova’s Take on Jumo

Prospects for Jumo’s Success

I want Jumo to succeed – I really do – but I wish I were more optimistic. The newest social network to break into the field, Jumo was launched last week as a platform for those interested in social change and charitable organizations.

Created by one Facebook’s founders, Chris Hughes, the site has already garnered tremendous press – and the pressure for success is on. Because of Hughes’ extensive experience both with Facebook and Barak Obama’s online fundraising campaign expectations, also in the from of venture capital, are high.

But through my time at JGooders, I have seen first hand how difficult it is to engage even the most committed activists in e-philanthropy of any sort. Here is my take after a few days of exploring the site.

A Quick Glance

Screenshot: Jewish Federation of Silicon Valley. Best practice model for Jumo. Gives you an idea of how a Jumo page looks if you aren’t already a user

If you don’t look carefully, at first you might think Jumo was just another Facebook redesign – the similarities are multiple and conscious. Creators figure that if we are familiar and comfortable with one platform, some of that might transfer to them.

And in fact, you must have a Facebook account to use the system effectively. Essentially, social causes open pages, and users choose to follow the projects and charities that interest them. The focus is on relationship building as opposed to soliciting donations, but recognized charities in the US are able to raise funds as well.

Overall, barring some initial kinks in the Beta version, the site is clear, easy to understand and heralds a new way of interaction with organizations – at least in theory. But Jumo faces some tremendous uphill battles before it can truly take off – while on paper it the idea of building community around specific social causes is compelling, in my experience, it is virtually impossible for most organizations.

— Keep reading to learn about Jumo’s utility to Jewish organizations and for comparison shots of how one organization operates across its website, Facebook, and Jumo —

You’ve Opened an Account, Now What?

An open site that has causes of all kinds from around the world, allows you to choose the information you receive, and see what your friends are supporting – what could be better? But here’s the thing. I signed up for Jumo a few days ago – a natural move since I’m deeply involved in and passionate about the nonprofit sector  – and to be honest, I haven’t been back since.

I’ll ignore the bugs, as the site is still a beta version and I have every confidence that they will be sorted out soon. But the truth is, between Facebook, Twitter, e-mail and my other daily online pursuits, I simply don’t have time to add another – and I’m sure I’m not the only one.

Let’s face it, for most adults, Facebook is it and though Jumo claims it’s not competing, it is of course competing for our time and attention.

Social Causes on Jumo

Screenshot: JustGiving website- which does not have a page on Jumo to date.

Even the most committed social activist is unlikely to spend their time looking for new causes to support – if they are so inclined, they have likely already identified the organizations and projects they care about and are in touch directly. Others are simply unlikely to sit down at their computer with the goal of learning about random social causes.

At JGooders, we were actually shocked to see how few people searched for the word charities, or donate…Google Analytics sheds some fascinating light on what we think we know about people.

The most successful sites in terms of online donations know this and don’t rely on the random passerby for support or even just interest. JustGiving, a British site, for example, counts on individuals to actively solicit their own friends. Another site, Global Giving, puts the pressure on organizations to bring their supporters to the site, or they risk being booted off.

Jumo’s First Adopters

I think that initially there will be a huge rush to sign up and explore the site – but I have a hard time imagining sustained, deep interest in using Jumo.

As the site grows and more and more charities join, it will simply become overwhelming and individuals will choose not to drown in the endless choice and rather stick to the projects they already know. If a critical mass of users is ever reached, it is possible that people will look to their friends causes for inspiration – but really, that already happens online, without Jumo.

As an Organization…

From the perspective of a social cause, Jumo offers many advantages – the least of which is that the service is free and user-friendly. Setting up a page takes no time, and administering it as you go along seems simple. One nice plus – while only 501 (c) 3 organizations can actually raise money on the site, virtually any non-political cause is welcome to set up shop.

The downside is that it is yet another form of social media to update – and on what no doubt will become a repository of thousands if not tens of thousands of causes, update you will have to if you ever want to get noticed by new people.

Chances are you are updating your own website, Facebook, and Twitter already – do you really have time to do more? Most Jewish and Israeli organizations that I’m familiar with are already struggling to keep up with the latest technologies – it will be interesting to see how many jump on board actively at Jumo.

The other question is – what added value does it really add to organizations? Their committed donors don’t need Jumo – and will it bring them new interest. The Jewish community in particular, cannot rely on Jumo to bring them new supporters/donors unless they can truly stand out above and beyond the more universalistic causes.

It is possible that Jumo will allow organizations to build a sense of community among their existing donor base – but smart organizations are already doing it on their own websites, or Facebook.

Maya’s Note

Before we conclude, I want to give you an visual model for an organization that is fully present on its own website, Facebook, and Jumo to illustrate how the three platforms compare and differ. In this case, I chose the Hillels Around Chicago as one of the few Jewish organizations that I found fully integrated on all three.

Website: Screenshot

Facebook: Screenshot

Jumo: Screenshot

As you can see, at present the screenshots between the organization’s Facebook and Jumo pages are virtually indistinguishable.

— Back to Tova —

Bottom Line

The idea is lovely, the system, even with its kinks is a good one, but I just don’t see people logging on regularly enough to make a difference. Nor do I think the Jewish community and/or Israeli organizations will benefit significantly from the site. But sign up and give it a spin for a few days. See what you think – I would love to be wrong.

About the Author: Tova Serkin

Tova Serkin, a consultant to nonprofits, has spent the nearly last 10 years immersed in Jewsh Peoplehood, organizational development and fundraising.

 She has previously served as the Chief Business Officer at JGooders.com, a Jewish e-philanthropy platform and the Executive Director of KolDor – an international network of Jewish leaders and activists. Born and raised in New York, today she lives in Herzliya, Israel.

Recommended Reading

Interested in learning more about Jumo from social media experts specializing in nonprofit fundraising? Read on.



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13 Responses to Jumo: Good for the Jews? (Guest Post: Tova Serkin)

  1. Maya Norton says:

    Permanent shortcut: http://tinyurl.com/jewmo1.

    Shavua Tov,

    ~ Maya

  2. Dan Brown says:

    See what Richard Marker has to say about intermediaries in Welcome to Jumo: The time of the intermediary is past; long live the [new] intermediary.


  3. Thanks so much for the shout-out!

    It will definitely be interesting to see where Jumo goes and what it can do for Jewish non-profits… Thanks for an engaging article.

  4. Thanks Maya and Tova for sharing your insights about Jumo.

  5. Great post! Thanks Maya and Tova for sharing your insights about Jumo.

  6. Thanks so much for the shout-out!

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    Jumo: Good for the Jews? (Guest Post: Tova Serkin) | The New Jew

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