Posted by: Nathaniel | July 8, 2008

CARE Connections: can individual humanitarian organizations create successful social networks?

CARE, one of the largest relief and development organizations in the world has just launched “CARE Connections,” a social network for CARE supporters to discuss relief and development issues. The email announcing the launch was inauspiciously titled “Move over Facebook, here comes CARE Connections.”

I think its a smart recognition on CARE’s part that there is space in the digital realm to bring together a varied set of conversations about development and humanitarian issues. The best features of the CARE Connections portal are those that get it away from feeling like you’re just supposed to be discussing the organization itself. They have blog and news feeds which might be useful once they have a few more sources they’re drawing from. Additionally, because CARE incorporates advocacy in many of their development campaigns, there are a variety of action opportunities that users can browse.

At the end of the day though, I have a hard time believing that people will add another sign-in branded around any single organization like CARE to their routine. Many, many people support their work. Many of those people are interested in the sort of digital discussions that happen when you bring groups together around common interests. But few are going to want to hang around and create a new set of log-in data and connections around a specific organization. The buy-in to CARE just isn’t high enough, and the value proposition to the user isn’t unique enough.

I think its really hard to brand a general change focused network around a specific organization. Mycommitment.org (a project of the Clinton Global Initiative) has had some struggles with this as well. I think at the end of the day, sites like Change.org and Justmeans.com have a much better chance as stand alone social change platforms than anything built into just one organization will.

If nothing else, CARE should think about getting rid of the orange and black Halloween feel to the site..

What do others think?

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Responses

  1. Nate,

    My girlfriend worked for care for a number of years and I had been a huge advocate of their doing something like this. They missed a few key opportunities however. The build a social network around humanitarian efforts and aid, you still have to appeal to the early adopters and the self-interests of the average computer user. This means making it easy to integrate with existing sites using Open Id and making data portability a priority. It also needs to ‘look’ like something people would enjoy versus work and it needs to provide some utility or function. I think you’re spot on, Care Connections isn’t there yet. Instead of building their own lackadaisical effort, it would make more sense to buy or partner with someone who knows what they’re doing.

  2. […] real innovation and utility. DoGoodWell points out a few sites that are doing a better job at this here but I’ll also mention […]

  3. Nathaniel,

    Thanks for the JustMeans shoutout! Like you said, one of the things that we are really proud of at JustMeans is the range of topics and issues the platform covers. In addition to offering a communication platform for these interests, JustMeans also provides job postings in the social responsibility field and technology build-out services for socially responsible companies.

    I hope you keep poking around the platform and collaborate with with us!

    Best,

    Ashley Fidel
    JustMeans New York Associate
    afidel@justmeans.com
    http://www.justmeans.com


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