You know my recurring rant:
Christian nonprofits, by virtue of what we ought to know from reading the Scriptures–everything from networking (cf. Body of Christ) to comprehensive involvement (cf. discipleship)–ought to be setting the pace for secular nonprofits to follow along behind jealously.
But this isn’t happening…because we Christian nonprofits are too busy jealously and fearfully following along behind secular nonprofits, copying the traditional transactional fundraising strategies that they are jettisoning…in favor of the very strategies we Christian nonprofits ought to already have been practicing.
I almost suspect on my most suspicious days that it’s because we Christian nonprofits don’t read or apply the Scriptures to our development efforts nearly as seriously or as boldly or as comprehensively or as faithfully as we should.
Anyway, my sigh today is prompted by a forthcoming secular nonprofit website, Jumo, being launched by Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes, who also directed online organizing for the Obama campaign in 2008.
Just see if any of this sounds familiar (i.e., things we’ve been teaching Christian nonprofits for the last several years; not that Hughes has been secretly listening in, but this stuff is just in the air, friend!). Says Hughes:
We are trying to re-imagine how individuals connect to organizations that are working the change the world on the Web…
You mean, connect differently than donor “pins” stuck into a nonprofit “pin cushion” where the key relationship is the financial transaction between the donor and the nonprofit?
The goal with Jumo, said Hughes, is to create longer-term relationships between people and causes.
Connecting people with causes, with nonprofits serving as the platform? But if you don’t treat people like human ATM machines, how will they ever remember to write checks?
“If you can help people discover and truly connect with these organizations and issues, then that is where you really open up a whole set of resources that were previously inaccessible. That is a very different experience from seeing an organization that you already know and giving them $10 bucks,” he said.
But donors are a simple lot, right? If you do anything more than ask them to write a check for the urgent need of the month, they just get get all confused and fold up into a fetal position, don’t they?
From the Obama campaign, Hughes learned that “people want to engage in a more substantive level, if you just open up the information channels,” he said. While the Obama campaign helped enlist voters through the Web in an unprecedented manner, non-profits outside of politics haven’t been able to easily replicate that experience.
But that’s why all the forward-thinking Christian ministries are getting on Facebook Causes, correct?
There have been other attempts to bring social issues into the world of social networking. Among them is Causes, a Facebook application that is popular among non-profits. “Causes does a good job of enabling people to either give some money or to raise some money for a non-profit they already know about,” said Hughes. But to help make deeper connections – and more of a difference – will take a whole new freestanding site, he said.
I’m having an Isaiah 45:4-6 moment, recognizing that God can’t get His own people to embrace and practice biblical champion development strategies because they’re so afraid of running out of money that He turns to Democratic presidential campaigns and secular nonprofit organizations to raise up the principles instead. Fortunately Christian organizations won’t have to wait long to jump on the Jumo bandwagon:
Jumo, which has an informational site up today but will launch in September or October, will help people find out about new organizations and other issues, as well as donate money and skills. He hopes the free site will be particularly useful to organizations that aren’t large enough to hire new media staff of their own.
Donating money and skills as two sides of the same coin. Sigh. Who would have ever thought of that from reading the Scriptures?