Birthdays have always been a big deal on Facebook, driving users to pile onto eachother’s Facebook profiles to leave good wishes and doodles of cake. But more and more, users are looking to channel this goodwill into something a little more special using Birthday Wish, a service from the philanthropic startup Causes that makes it easy to ask your friends to donate to charity in honor of your big day.
Today, we’ve gotten word that the service has set a new record: Dave Morin, a long-time former Facebook employee who is now CEO of stealthish startup Path, managed to raise over $10,000 in 24 hours, which is the fastest-growing Birthday Gift ever (the total totally is now up to over $11K). He’ll be donating the proceeds to UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital in San Francisco, and if you’d like to participate you can find his Wish here. Morin’s success with Birthday Wish is awesome news, but it’s also important for another reason: it shows how some recent tweaks to the Causes platform are beginning to take off.
Over the summer we reported that Causes was moving away from existing primarily as a Facebook canvas application that lives on Facebook itself, toward a Connect-enabled site on Causes.com. Causes CEO Joe Green says that since the change two months ago, Birthday Wish has been raising twice as much money per day (up to $20,000 a day from $10,000).
He expects that number to keep growing. Green says that over the last few months Causes has primarily been focusing on helping each Birthday Wish campaign drive more donations, but it hasn’t been doing much to boost the total number of wishes being created (in other words, to boost awareness). That’s going to change soon, he says.
The site is also going to begin rolling out some new features, like a ‘sidekick’ system where one friend is supposed to help promote your Wish as much as possible. There’s also going to be listings of the top donor, most recent donor, and so on — Green explains that the site is working on getting these social dynamics fine-tuned for helping you raise money from friends, which is tricker than what you’d find on a basic social game. You probably won’t be able to raise quite as much as Morin (who has a large online presence), but everyone should benefit from the changes.
I also spoke with Morin about the success of his Wish. He’s thrilled, explaining that he’d set a goal of $10,000 by the holiday season – which he reached in one day. He attributes some of this success to the aforementioned optimizations that have been made to Causes (he says he’s being running Birthday Wishes for three years, and the amount raise has doubled or more each year). Here’s a portion of his letter to friends, in which he explains why he is doing this:
Health has been an important dedication of my family for decades.
I have dedicated my life to entrepreneurship, helping other entrepreneurs, and the creation of better social networking technology to help cause positive change in society.
Because of this I have been working for over a year in partnership with Ron Conway, Marc & Lynne Benioff, Joe Green, and the team at UCSF towards the creation of a social media movement to support the new world class UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital here in San Francisco.
Because of my family’s dedication to family health for decades, this organization is particularly important to me because it is going to set a new standard of health care for children and their families.
My personal goal is to raise more than $10,000 through the holiday season. And to recruit more than 50% of my friends on Facebook to join this important cause.
Causes, launched in May 2007, applies viral principles to altruism and social causes. The company was founded by Sean Parker and Joe Green and is designed to help passionate supporters of causes—charities, religions, political parties and candidates, etc.—organize online movements to raise awareness, advocate and fundraise. Whenever someone creates a cause or joins one, it shows up in their news feed for their friends to see. Information about the cause is also included in the profile itself, including total amount...