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

June 19, 2009


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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Adventure’s with Google’s New Philanthropy Search Engine

March 28, 2009

Google Custom Search (Logo)Here’s a quick news alert to make your lives a little easier. Did you know that Google has a new customized search engine for philanthropy? Let’s test it out.

Testing Google’s Philanthropy Search Engine

As an experiment, I type “Jewish” into the philanthropy search engine for the following top five hits:

Not a bad haul, although in the future, I’d like to see a Jewish philanthropy blog getting big hits on the first page. The first blog hit is Philanthropy 2173 at #7. The JTA’s Fundermentalist, authored by Jacob Berkman, comes in as the first Jewish blog reference at a respectable #8, having been scooped by The Chronicle of Philanthropy for last weeks’ coverage of the 2009 Jewish Funder’s Network conference. This, however, does not meet my criterion for an independent blog hit, “independent” meaning a blog not connected to a foundation, and “hit,” meaning a link to the blog itself. So I keep scrolling.

—– What a Cliff Hanger. Read on to Find Out If a Jewish Blog Makes Google Philanthropy’s Top Hit List —–

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7 Quick Tips for End of the Year Fundraising: Keep it Simple, Make it Personal, Give Me Proof

December 11, 2008


What do you have to crow about?

Photo by Giovanni

Here is a simple list of suggestions for communicating with your supporters during the holiday season.

Each e-mail I’ve received recently asking for funding or additional support gets analyzed and checked off in my internal do/don’t list. My list is below. What’s on yours?

The number one thing to remember while we are doing organizational planning for press releases, grants, and fundraising campaigns is to keep in mind is that we are speaking directly to another person– not an organization, not a position, but a person.

What You Can Expect From This Post

Here are 7 short and sweet tips for end of the year fundraising.

  1. Be brief
  2. Add value to my life
  3. Talk to me
  4. Tell me a story
  5. Use images
  6. Give me proof
  7. Don’t make me work for it

Photo by DvortyGirl

1. Be Brief

  • DO keep it to one screen on e-mail, no scrolling (this can be a real challenge)
  • DO use borders and easy to read font
  • DO use color, bolding, and scannable text

2. Add Value to My Life

  • DO make my click-through to your e-mail from my inbox worth more effort than the click I could have used to delete it
  • DO tell me why you’re writing: the holiday season is a start, but it doesn’t differentiate you from anyone else
  • DO have a reason for writing and make that come through in the e-mail– I shouldn’t have to think about it
  • DO make your e-mail worth reading by giving me information I need to know about your organization
  • DON’T tell me about your new tax status– that’s not going to swing me one way or the other. Wait until I’m more committed to divulge the details. Would you tell a date your medical history the second time you had dinner? This is an internal matter to share after a commitment
  • DON’T tell me about an event you didn’t invite me to

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Facebook in Turkey: What Makes Turkey #1?

November 22, 2007


In honor of Turkey Day, today I will be talking about why Turkey is the number one fastest growing network on Facebook.

Thanksgiving is primarily about two things: Turkey (or good food in general) and social networking (reconnecting with old friends and family and meeting new people). This entry is about the exact same thing: Turkey and social connections– on Facebook.

Recommended reading: “Israel Facebook Network Goes Viral: Cultural Reporting from the Front Lines” (I will be referring to it frequently in this entry as the basis for discussion and to determine what we know and what we don’t about Facebook networks and exponential growth.)

Fastest Growing Networks of Facebook: Turkey & Israel

As I wrote about earlier, Turkey and Israel are the number one and two fastest growing networks on Facebook. We deduced that Israel’s Facebook penetration depends on three primary factors:


  1. English literacy— even though Facebook is enabled for Hebrew and Arabic scripts, the menus, navigation, and applications beyond these insular communities require dexterity with the English language and alphabet both as a reader and writer
  2. Facility with technology— known worldwide for its technological expertise and the technological saturation of the population as a whole, Israel is considered a very adaptive culture and population
  3. Cultural role of social networking— Israel is widely acknowledged as a communal society where connections are key to social functioning. Facebook enhances and feeds into this inclination

What can we learn about Turkey and Turkish young adult culture that would lead us to similar insights? Let’s figure out what there is to know.

Facebook’s Turkey Network

Let’s examine the basics.

  • Facebook’s Turkish network at time of writing: 1,124,590*
  • Language: Turkish (distinct language, but written with Latin alphabet like English)

* It has grown to 1,129,750 by the time I publish some hours later. That’s a growth of 5,100+ over about four hours, higher even than Israel’s 1,700 for the same period of time. What accounts for numbers that high?

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Getting the Message Across with YouTube: 7 Ways to Take Your Nonprofit to the Next Level

November 19, 2007


What is one thing your organization can do to improve its message? Get online with video blogs.YouTube is to television what Guttenberg was to the press.

Well, maybe it isn’t that extreme, but you get the analogy.

How This Post is Organized

In this entry, I present you with 6 strategies your organization can use to craft a superior video message. Each will be accompanied by a best practice example by video.

For further recommendations, go to my YouTube account and see what I am watching. I am carefully gathering a folder of best practice models in my playlist labeled The New Jew: Blogging Jewish Philanthropy.

Why Your Foundation Should Use Video

Video is an advanced, but important step for an organization. Videos are most often used by established foundations with set priorities and secure funding– but they don’t have to be.

If your organization prioritizes media relations and has a graphic designer or someone computer savvy on staff, a video is a great way to get your organization’s message to a wider and more diverse audience.

Six Things To Consider When Making a Video

Here are six high value components for a YouTube video:

  1. Target your audience
  2. Combine images, text, and voice to appeal to multiple intelligences
  3. Use visual analogies to better communicate your message
  4. Use humor– it’s universal
  5. Keep it short
  6. Brand up front and give instructions on how to get connected

Best Practice Examples

1. Target Your Audience

The number one key to success in communicating your message through video is to understand your target audience and speak directly to them. Keep in mind age, language, level of education, socioeconomics, and geography.

The best practice example for targeting your audience is a condom education video from India (with subtitles). Through dance, humor, and an array of mixed media techniques, the Nrityanjali Academy speaks to every audience about sexual health and education.

Their message is so universal that any person in the world could understand this message.

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Using StumbleUpon to Enhance Your Web Experience & Drive Traffic to Your Webpage

October 24, 2007


Discovering StumbleUpon

After reading rave reviews of StumbleUpon from my fellow bloggers, I decided to check it out. I am glad I did.

StumbleUpon is essentially a channel surfing mechanism for your computer (similar to Tivo in many regards). You sign up for your interests by checking relevant boxes in categories like health, entertainment, news, and others, and download a StumbleUpon toolbar for your internet browser.

StumbleUpon is also an important tool for nonprofit organizations because it helps drive traffic to your foundation’s homepage.

How To Use StumbleUpon

StumbleUpon ScreenShot

On the far lefthand side of your screen at the top of your browser is a “Stumble” button. Click it and it will take you to a website that it thinks you like based on your preferences inputted.

Next to the Stumble button are thumbs up and thumbs down symbols, which you click on to help StumbleUpon refine your preferences to improve its future recommendations.

You can click on the speech bubble to read reviews of the webpage by other StumbleUpon users and to write your own. If you are the first one to rate the site, you have “discovered” it and your profile will be attached to the review page every time someone views it.

The more times someone clicks the StumbleUpon icon or writes a review of your homepage, the more web traffic will be driven your way.

(Note that this screenshot is an older one. Your newly downloaded version will be more advanced with better one-touch option capabilities.) Read the rest of this entry »