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

December 19, 2010


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 —

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Israel Needs Your Help: Forest Fire Devastates Haifa

December 3, 2010

Israel needs your help. The worst fire in the nation’s history erupted yesterday from the forests of the Carmel in Haifa.

International aid from Britain, Bulgaria, Cyprus, and Greece was offered almost immediately to help quench the flames as Israel’s resources were quickly depleted.

As of early Friday morning, Friends of Israel’s Fire Fighters updated:

More than 15,000 residents evacuated, flames near Haifa. Mass evacuation continues into night as fire ranges in northern Israel, thousands of Haifa residents ordered to leave homes. At least 40 dead; casualty information center reopens for first time since Second Lebanon War.

Here’s How You Can Help

Jewish National Fund (JNF)

The Jewish National Fund has established a Forest Fire Emergency Campaign.

Here’s how your donations can help- and keep in mind here how many of our physical resources were lost in the fire and that Israeli firefighting sources will need extensive funds to recuperate from the loss of equipment:

  • $100- Hose
  • $500- Helmet
  • $1,000- Hose Nozzle
  • $5,000- Masks and Tanks
  • $7,500- Camera
  • $10,000- Equipment
  • $50,000- ARV
  • $125,000- Fire Truck

The JNF has also organized an international conference call on Friday, December 3rd for 12:00 EST with CEO Russell Robinson and several of their chief executive officers, as well as Shimon Romach, Chief of the Israel Firefighters, and Tim Tidewell, US Chief of the Forest Service. Click here to register and log-in information will be sent to you.

Note also JNF’s projects to Help Alleviate Israel’s Water CrisisForest Management and Fire Prevention, and Friends of Israel’s Fire Fighters. You can learn more about them here.

— Keep Reading: Magen David Adom (Israeli Red Cross), JGooders, Role of Social Media in Breaking News —

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5 Powerful Fundraising Videos (and Two Bonus)

November 20, 2010

What makes you stand up and take notice- or sit down and listen for three minutes? Here are five powerful fundraising videos that are best practices models.

You may be asking how I can call these “fundraising videos” if not a single one asks for money? My answer is that each one is a powerful motivator that brings you to a new place in your thinking about the issue, the organization, and the mission after watching. Friend-raising comes first; fundraising follows.

Other than this introduction and the source information, this is a textless entry. I encourage you to share your own favorites in the comments section or by posting at The New Jew: Microblog on Facebook. I look forward to adding a best practice sections to both this site and the microblog shortly.

Note of Exclusion:  Unpacking the White Knapsack

I chose not to include videos which feature:

  • A white spokesperson for a cause in the developing world
  • Celebrities
  • Focus on poverty and not people

For me these three items detract from the issue at hand. The point isn’t to relate to a person you’re familiar with (pretty woman, middle class white man), but to go beyond and connect with the real people whom the issues affect. I’ve chosen here films that support sustainable community growth and empowerment- and lay the gauntlet forth in doing so. Many a strong contender was excluded for an overemphasis on a Western or white perspective.

* For more information read Peggy McIntosh’s “White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack” (PDF, 4 pages).

Videos

The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies present “The Shelter Effect” (3:57, 2,850 hits)

The Girl Effect presents “The Girl Effect” (2:23, 676,500 hits)

Companion video: “The Clock is Ticking” (3:05, 209,500 hits)

—   Click Through to See Most Best Practice Videos   —

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ROI, I Love You, But…

July 9, 2010

Broken Heart of Social Media

This could have been my love letter to ROI.  But it’s not. I’m frustrated. ROI, you can do better and I want to lay out a basic outline of how.

Social Media Bonanza

If you’re not familiar with ROI, this organization is focused around an annual global summit of young Jewish innovators. It is supported by a PR company that does advance media, a blog, a Facebook page, a YouTube channel, a Flickr account, and a Twitter feed as well as hashtag– all linked here.

So what could I possibly be complaining about? They have all their bases covered, right?

Well, no. I don’t think they fully practice what they preach– and I’m saying this as a 2009 ROI fellow as well as someone who has been in contact with ROI offering them my support on numerous occasions with regard to social media and web content. I’m saying this out of love: ROI, you can do better.

What’s the Problem, Exactly?

The two primary problems I identify are as follows:

  • There’s a disconnect between the Summit and the rest of the year, and
  • A disconnect between those actively participating in the Summit and those on the outside

With all the excitement generated for the Summit, there’s no carry through for those who aren’t participating. The ROI blog is updated minimally and there don’t seem to be many blog posts coming from participants– which makes sense because they’re really, really busy.

The primary way to follow the Summit is via ROI’s hashtag, which is #roicom. But how much can you really say in 152 characters? Well, I believe that you can get your point across quite effectively, but it has to be a concerted effort: not just comments but actual commentary.

— Now you have an idea of the problem. Keep reading to hear the solution. —

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Street Smarts: Harnessing the Creativity of Urban Activism

July 4, 2010

06112008263

Does your organization take its activism to the street? This low budget urban social movement can be done with little funding and lots of creativity.

Here are some recent examples that come to mind. I know there are lots more– and would love to hear your examples.

Scientists on the Train

Hebrew University researchers take to the train for free monthly lecture series in specially designated compartments.

Recent lectures include a profile of Albert Einstein’s contribution to humanity (in honor of his March birthday which marks Israel Science Day), physics experiments in motion, and Israel’s development of new food crops, like genetically modified tomatoes.

My favorite quote from a passenger, “It was weird, but good.”

What would your organization do to go public? Lectures on trains and singing on street corners may seem extreme, but there’s always a lesson to be had in translating your mission and objectives into hands-on contact with constituents.

— Is Your Organization Brave Enough to Sing on Street Corners and Write on the Walls? Keep Reading to Find Out Who Is —

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Nonprofits and Social Media: 5 Twitter Highlights for Those in the Know

June 19, 2009

TNJ_Twitter.Logo_18June09

In my few moments of spare time a day, I’ve been experimenting with the effect of Twitter’s microblogging. What have I learned? The primary thing that you need to know is that the world of Twitter is wide open to new participants, whether individuals or foundations. It’s a great way to catch the eyes and ears of people who matter and to drive traffic to your blog.

In the last few days I came across a number of stories that I had to share with you– they are that exciting.

  1. “10 Twitter Tips for Nonprofits” by Heather Mansfield of Change.org (@changedotorg). The only point I disagree with is Mansfield’s advice that you should provide value to your followers instead of ‘chit-chatting.’ As with any social media platform, I believe it is key to imbue your tweets with a sense of  personality so that you readers feel a personal connection and investment with you as an individual. This is also why I advocate that foundation accounts are headed by a single person whose name is cited. People want to talk to people.
  2. “Nonprofit Groups Outpace Businesses in Adopting Social Networking Tools” by Peter Panepento of The Chronicle of Philanthropy (@philanthropy). Among the findings of the UMass-Dartmouth study are that 89% of nonprofits are using some form of social media and that 57% have blogs. These numbers, which may strike some as surprisingly high, are a logical result of the low barriers to entry of social media in this cut to the bone economy.
  3. Jared Cohen (Sourced from Gen-Next.org)

    Jared Cohen

    “State Department Atwitter Over Young, Jewish Tech Tutor” by Allison Gaudet Yarrow of The Forward (@jdforward). The best part of this article is the Stephen Colbert interview with our subject, Jared Cohen, who points out that 60% of the Middle East’s population is under 30, and that they are the most accessible, impressionable, and those with whom we have the greatest opportunity to connect. Interestingly, Cohen’s own Twitter page is fairly average (@Jared_Cohen). I guess when you are the youngest member of the State Department’s Policy Planning Team, self promotion isn’t the first thing on your mind.

    — Keep Reading for Highlights on Young Jews Connecting Through Twitter and Israeli Billionaires, As Well as Quick Hits & Hot Links —
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2009 Charles Bronfman Prize Honors KIPP’s Excellence in Education

April 7, 2009
KIPP New Orleans: Principal & Students

KIPP New Orleans: Principal & Students

The 2009 Charles Bronfman Prize shines its light on the Knowledge is Power Program (KIPP), a national network of free, college preparatory charter schools designed to give kids from disadvantaged backgrounds the best possible education.

As a former public school teacher, I hold KIPP in the highest regard. Founders Michael Feinberg and David Levin are accomplishing what everyone else hopes to achieve. They are the go-to address for social innovation in inner city public education.

Proof from the statistics:

  • 100% of KIPP 8th graders outperformed district and state averages on math, reading, and language arts tests
  • 80% of KIPP students matriculate to college (average for low income students is 20%)

Replicating the Model

KIPP Logo

So how do they do it? What’s the KIPP model and how can other schools replicate it?

The good news is that KIPP is specifically designed to be a replicable. As former Teach For America teachers, Feinberg and Levin sought to design a system of schools specifically for urban, underserved populations that would output highly educated students destined for college.

—– Read more to find out the components of a KIPP education and its Israel connection —–

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