Facebook changes – the fundraising stuff

With Google+ going fully open this week, Facebook has hit back immediately with some of the most radical changes to the platform so far.

If you want to know more about the details changes – you can read it all here. The reaction to the changes has been “mixed” (a common newspaper euphemism for rabidly antagonistic).

The idea of making Facebook more complicated when its biggest USP against Google+ could be its simplicity is an odd one, but users will get used to it and Facebook will continue to grow (500m active daily users at the last count).

However for charities and fundraisers, there is a change that has potential to impact on your engagement via Facebook – and Facebook has been very conscious of fundraising in making the changes.

The Timeline

Put very simply, one of the key changes is The Timeline – which is essentially a fancier, more customisable profile page which is supposed to give a more representative picture of your activities over time, so the more important stuff you do via Facebook gets greater prominence than the trivial.

For instance, the fact that you’ve been actively fundraising over the last year for your favourite charity will get more prominence than the fact that you’ve just harvested turnips in Farmville.

This will be particularly the case with people using the Facebook Causes application – which currently has 140 million users.

People’s charity activities – the causes they support – will become a much more important part of their online identity on Facebook than they were in the past.

This, potentially, makes the individual impact of your Facebook followers more powerful as their support for your cause becomes a more visible part of their Facebook identity when they interact with friends and followers.

Also, with profiles drawing on what people are actually doing online, there’s a part of all of us that wants to be seen in particular light – and I’d rather my Timeline showed I engaged with a worthy cause than spent all my time biting chumps.

Facebook says

Here’s what Facebook themselves have to say about the changes and their affect on fundraising, under the in-no-way bombastic title of Facebook Changes Will Help You Change The World :

“Facebook is making it easier for people to share the action they take on Causes and get their friends involved in real-time. Second, Facebook is launching Timeline, which will allow people to curate all of the information on their profiles to better share the moments in life that matter most.

Because taking action and then sharing it with friends is the core of what people do on Causes, we think that these changes will have profoundly positive effects on people trying to help the world by using Causes…

Until now, Facebook profiles have been dominated by recent information, such as a friend’s posts on your wall, or relatively static information, such as your hometown), but Timeline now offers an important middle ground for people to feature and curate lower frequency, but highly meaningful information that changes and builds over time.

My mom, for example, can join the Arts in Education cause, which supports her favorite nonprofit, choose it to be her featured cause, recruit friends to join it, and donate. Currently, all of these actions can be published to my mom’s friends in real-time, but there is not a good way for her to showcase this cause and the work she has done to support it on her profile, which ideally should be the most complete representation of who she is.

The reality is that my mom’s involvement with the Arts cause may be less frequent than playing a game on Facebook, but she may care more deeply about the Arts organization and its mission. Frequency and recency don’t necessarily correlate with quality or “coreness” with respect to her personal identity.”

So there you go – if you want to change the World, or just raise money for play equipment for your local nursery, Facebook will now let the world know what you care about.

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