Social activism application developer Causes released a number of tools as part of its new nonprofit partner center, earlier this month, and we recently had the opportunity to take a closer look at it.
The new functionality is specifically tailored towards nonprofit organizations with multiple chapters (or multiple Causes that support the same nonprofit beneficiary). As Causes put it:
We’re adding to our nonprofit-specific tools because nonprofits 1) play a critical role in the Causes ecosystem and 2) have unique needs and goals that can’t be addressed solely by the current cause-based model we’ve pioneered through our application.
The new partner center allows Cause administrators to access more sophisticated communication, fundraising and metrics for one or more Causes.
Causes, it should be noted, has thousands of organizations using its applications on Facebook and MySpace, with 35.2 million monthly active users on Facebook alone — the second-largest third party app on the site.
Coordination and Communication
Previously, communication across multiple related causes could only be done manually, and there was no way to indicate linked Causes or networks of Causes. Administrators now have the ability to designate Causes as “Affiliate Causes.” Affiliate Causes can then be labeled with user-generated categories (which are like tags). The categorization seems somewhat similar to the customization made possible by Friend Lists released by Facebook earlier this year—a welcome step which allows administrators to target campaigns to subgroups of Affiliate Causes and to see the data which will come from messages. Petitions can also be developed in the partner center and then shared across multiple Affiliate Causes. Messaging features are much more sophisticated: Administrators can target all Affiliate Cause members, administrators only, supporters of particular campaigns, or donors.
Each Cause’s home page has been redesigned to move static content lower on the page and bulletins to the top of the page. Additionally, Causes now presents a third indicator of virality: a list of Top Promoters (in addition to Top Recruiters and Top Donors), reflecting the additional ways members can support a cause by publicizing content or updating their statuses on Facebook.
Insights data is now tracked for all Affiliate Causes and is presented in the nonprofit partner center in a similar manner to data tracked by Facebook Pages. Causes now compiles reports on bulletins or updates sent to Cause members, including a breakdown by email bulletin vs. notification and click through numbers.
Donor names are now tracked via the nonprofit partner center—a huge improvement over previous fundraising tracking. Donors can opt-in to share additional contact information such as mailing address or email address. Downloadable donation history as a CSV file is also now available. It is unclear whether or not Causes plans to integrate this data with existing CRM/donor database software so as to simplify content management for nonprofit staff.
Over the past few months, critics have protested Causes withholding data from the exit survey data users complete when they leave a Cause. This feedback seems to have been taken into account. This anonymous data is now tracked in the nonprofit partner center.
Monetization and Revenue
The new products certainly bode well for Causes’ potential revenue growth, and the portfolio of nonprofit tools stands to drive revenue on two fronts:
1. Strong growth in MAUs will likely produce growth in donations
2. Addition of a premium membership option will generate new revenue
As regards the first point, the company has been very smart in timing the release of these tools to coincide with the America’s Giving Challenge. Causes are competing for daily prizes and an overall prize based on number of donations, and it has already raised $1 million. Additionally, the donation page itself has been revamped. Causes can now do more to customize the graphic or photo to accompany donations of various amounts. Administrators can tailor the donation page for each Cause by creating up to 5 of these “Donor Choices.” Previously, the only customized graphics which accompanied donations (or named gifts) were the Charity Gifts, arranged by Causes headquarters and certain nonprofit partners. The Donor Choices now give every Cause the opportunity to create these icons to help users understand the value of their donation. Some gifts from organizations on Causes have also begun appearing in Facebook’s virtual gifts store.
With respect to the second point, the full range of new tools are available to all Causes at no cost as part of a free trial of the premium membership until November 7. After November 7, certain functionality and options will only be available to Causes who purchase the premium membership. It is unclear how much it will cost to purchase the premium trial. Before we are able to see how many nonprofits opt for this membership, it seems safe to say that Causes is well positioned to generate revenue from the new range of tools. The premium membership will probably make sense for nonprofits who:
- depend heavily on numerous chapters/Causes
- have dedicated online fundraising/social media budgets.
From the standpoint of this longtime Facebook user and nonprofit fundraiser, this is a tremendous upgrade by Causes. It will be exciting to watch how the nonprofit partner center fares after the free premium trial ends, and in the months that follow.