Convio has had Convio Widgets and Personal Outreach Pages for a while now, but today they announced their Convio Personal Events,

“… a comprehensive online application designed to help individual supporters or members of nonprofit organizations, associations, institutions of higher education or faith-based organizations host and market personal events around a cause, theme or campaign…”

When the big names start getting into widget fundraising and personal events we are starting to look at a massive movement towards decentralizing the organizational website. Instead of having a single ‘official’ landing page, Convio is driving the trend towards having hundreds of smaller widgets – a kind of the best people to raise money/awareness are your donors, so lets give them the tools to do it philosophy. I predict that this type of decentralization is going to be the trend that drives fundraising and philanthropy into the next stage.

By seeing each constituent as a node in a network rather than a part of an organization, group fundraising helps you tap the knowledge, enthusiasm, and the peer network of people already giving to your cause. Its the wisdom of individuals in a crowd, applied to outreach.

Data Junkie has posted a world map of social networks, showing the dominant social networks by country, according to Alexa.

I found it interesting that while US based bloggers and commentators, mostly seem to feel that facebook and myspace have the market all sewn up, other networks appear to be flourishing in areas where english may not be a first language – Orkut for example, has the Indian subcontinent enthralled. It is a pity there are no stats for China with its several million internet users, and the colors distinguishing between networks could use a wider pallet. Otherwise the map is a very interesting depiction of the fact that there are niches all over the world, and not all of it speaks english.

All of this left me wondering why I socialize on Virb? The answer isn’t as simple as I like the color scheme but I suspect it is because its still small, it looks really good and it caters to the type of people that I like to read about. In other words its a niche network.

UPDATE: Not really an update but Chip Griffin of Pardon the Interruption has written a free eBook entitled The New Media Cocktail which discusses the power of niches.

As someone noted, I also have a
LinkedIn account. It still counts as a niche network even though its fairly massive.

View Dror Eyal's profile on LinkedIn

In the pre-social networking carnival that is today’s web environment, a NPO was usually lagged behind in terms of technology, simply for the reason that up to date technology required money and technical expertise, which your typcial NPO did not have. In the last couple of years, there has been a shift in emphasis towards something that NPO had more access to than your average for-profit enterprise, a community. We are looking to roll out a custom social networking tool in the next couple of months and I have been doing a lot of research into this area, I’ve been doing a lot of experimenting with the tools that are currently out there – small focused experiments that have allowed me to evaluate and learn from before investing development time. We want to get this right the first time, or at least the second.

Most of the Social Networks that I have had a look at, have great tools, and I am really impressed by Facebook and the Facebook platform that allows for the writing of microsoftware for Facebook. There are also a lot of nonprofits that are using MySpace and YouTube and other mass market social networking platforms. The problem with these sites is that most of the users there are there for fun, to kill time and, on the more business orientated sites like linkedin, for networking. They aren’t really there to look for volunteer or philanthropic work or even to donate.

At the moment my money is on niche’d social networks, smaller more aggeressively orientated towards a particular group, subculture or cause. More of a support site, than a massive online community.

Resources I have been looking at:
Using Social Networking to Stop Genocide
Danah Boyd’s publications on Social Networking
The Power of Many
and many others that weren’t as informative.

How do you break through the information chaos that exists in the social media world? By releasing a social network press release. The idea behind this press release, is a naked form that is essentially a toolkit to allow others to create their own stories around it. A kind of list of facts and quotes unembellished by hype and opinion, that allows the end consumer to create their own message backed up by sanctioned facts and quotes. Different markets require information specifically tailored for them, the only way to create enough different stories is to allow the users and participants to create their own stories for their own blogs and to give them the tools to do that. Adoption through innovation for the marketing world, we supply the tools you create your own story. Or if you’re more of a Kathy Sierra person, giving your users the tools to kick ass.

The Geocommons Social Media Release case study
Social Media Newsroom Template
The GC release on Fortiusone

This is why enterprise systems have low adoption rates, little user generated content, high quality metadata and email is used for everything. Every sacrifice made for sake of control reduces network effects, assumes a static environment you can design against and is designed by supposed experts outside the context of use. Contrary to the most disruptive pattern of social software — sharing control creates value.

Ross Mayfield