Earlier this year, news stories began circulating about Jumo, a new project headed up by Chris Hughes, one of the founders of Facebook. The project was said to be nonprofit-focused, an exciting premise that resulted in more speculation than actual information about what it would actually do.
Well, the beta version launched yesterday, and while some reactions were positive, many were rife with frustration and ambivalence due to a series of technical complications and questions about whether the network brings anything new to the table for nonprofits and potential donors.
Now Jumo seems to be working a little better. Yesterday I was unable to access the site at all, despite repeated attempts. Today I was able to set up a personal profile and start following causes and people, though I did run into errors during the registration process and while browsing. (Switching from Chrome to Firefox seemed to alleviate a lot of the problems.)
Overall, the interface is pretty nice, and I like the fact that it's not "yet another network" that nonprofits have to update, provided those nonprofits are active in other social networks. It essentially serves as an aggregate dashboard for all your nonprofit's activity on Facebook, Twitter, and other social platforms. As Beth Kanter notes, "it seems to favor organizations that have already established a social media content strategy."
For users, it does require you connect to Facebook to create a profile, yet mysteriously demands you log in by typing your email address and Jumo password. I expect it'll allow you to log in with your Facebook ID before too long, however. I was a bit annoyed that it posted on my Facebook wall that I'd joined Jumo without prompting me, and others noted similar frustrations.
As for the product's purpose, it was pitched as a site to "do what Yelp did for restaurants," indexing charities "to help people find and evaluate them."
"We'll be matching people based on their skills and interests with organizations around the world that need their input. It’s a discovery process that first matches, then helps people build relationships, then lets people share their resources." - Chris Hughes
If that premise sounds familiar, that's because it is. Amy Sample Ward and folks on Progressive Exchange noted its similarities to change.org, Network for Good, Crowdrise and Care2, among others. Whether this model is even effective for connecting charities with donors is still in question for some, like Causewired:
"Jumo is hardly the first start-up to begin life believing that people wake up in the morning wondering how to give their money away, searching relentlessly for that cause they can connect with. It rarely happens that way, of course. Most people give because someone asks them to. Most people involved because of a personal connection. Search isn’t the promise of online philanthropy, and never has been. Social – to put it bluntly – is. Finding good nonprofits is easy. Becoming deeply involved in a cause is harder."
In the end, there are both good things and bad things about Jumo, and time will tell whether it'll last and find its niche in the marketplace. Chris Hughes doesn't lack for innovative smarts (heck, look what he did for Facebook and the Obama campaign) and clearly has a passion for this endeavor. I think the Chronicle of Philanthropy was wise to run both a guest column dismissing Jumo and one defending it, because its success or failure is not yet decided.
What's your take? Is Jumo a flash in the pan, or here to stay?