Socially Conscious Social Networking – Facebook Causes

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About a week ago, Project Agape, a company founded by Sean Parker – that focuses on philanthropy – launched a special version of their services for Facebook, called Causes on Facebook. Here’s how you can help.
With a platform consisting of millions of users, most of them college students or working professionals, it comes as no surprise that Sean’s company would take advantage of the community by building this application for Facebook. Causes on Facebook has a simple goal,

The goal of all this is what we call “equal opportunity activism.” We’re trying to level the playing field by empowering individuals to change the world. Existing nonprofits must raise hundreds of millions of dollars and leverage massive direct marketing campaigns to attract members. We’re democratizing activism by empowering activists with an arsenal of tools for users of Facebook who want to leverage their network on Facebook to effect positive change.

The founders state on their about page that anyone with some initiative can create a cause. I couldn’t find a link to do so directly from their application page, so here’s what I did. After going to their application page and adding the application to my profile, I was taken to the browse causes page. From here I clicked back to my causes and was taken to a page from where I could start a cause.
Looks convoluted? I thought so too.
Starting a Cause
Starting a cause, once you’ve found the right page to do it from, is actually quite intuitive. Once you click the ‘start cause’ button you are redirected to Project Agape’s page to start the process. There are 5 sections of information you need to fill out.
1. Basic information: Includes cause name, mission, description, and positions.
2. Category & Tags: Includes primary and secondary categories and tags applicable to your cause.
3. Geography: Allows you to choose the region that your cause affects, i.e., global, United States, non U.S. country.
4. Picture: Here you have to select a picture or logo to go with your cause. You cannot proceed unless you add an image.
5. And in the last step you can choose a nonprofit organization that will benefit from your cause. You can either choose one yourself or let the application match you with one.
Once you have completed all 5 steps, you will be asked to confirm that all the information is correct and to add a contact email address. Your cause has finally been created and will be added to the causes directory. You can either start by inviting your friends to join or just wait for people to add themselves to your cause.
Once you’re done, you can either see how your cause is doing from your causes page:
Or see it featured in your profile as an application widget:
Or see the complete stats from the profile page of that particular cause:
As the creators of the application mentioned, this is indeed a natural evolution of social networking. A cause is just another interest based on which you can connect with other people. Causes on Facebook successfully takes social activism online and into the realm of social networking. And in fact the application has already seen a fair amount of success. For example, if you head over to the Save Darfur page you will see that the cause already has over 18,500 members and has raised over $3,000.
But why rely on Facebook to launch the service? Mike Arrington got the answer,

Facebook has a huge and active user base (20 million users, each viewing 50 pages daily on Facebook), and they are a demographic that is highly likely to want to become involved actively in causes they believe in.

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