GiveGab is starting with college students first, because they often do charitable work to fulfill course requirements, as part of sorority or fraternity obligations, or to pad their resumes. The network has about 15,000 users right now and is expecting to make a major push during the fall semester. More than 200 universities are using GiveGab to pair their students with local charities. Mulligan says the mobile app will be more centered on the volunteers than universities and nonprofits.
"The site itself is designed to help nonprofit groups primarily—it helps people who manage volunteers," Mulligan says. "The mobile app is focused mainly on the consumer. The social features and the fun gamification-type features are the things we think really hit home with younger people."
Other social networks have experimented with charitable features, but the results have been mixed. Facebook's Causes, which is one of the platform's largest apps, is focused more on petitions and fundraising than volunteering. Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes in 2010 launched Jumo, a social network for charities, but the site didn't offer users any real way to interact with the nonprofits they followed. Jumo was "acquired" (died) in 2011.
It's easy to be a social slacktivist, but tougher to venture out into your community. If GiveGab can combine an index of volunteer opportunities with fun, social features, the network could be a real success. Hey, if Waze can turn traffic reports into a game, anything is possible.
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