Using Connections for Good

6 degrees.pngI'm sure we've all had the experience of traveling to a small town in the middle of nowhere, and randomly meeting someone who is the the second cousin of your college roommate. Put in the modern vernacular, this experience would be an example of the "six degrees of separation" rule, made famous by actor Kevin Bacon. In his words, "any one person (including me, Kevin Bacon) is connected to any other person through six or fewer relationships, because it's a small world." Mr. Bacon is taking this interesting concept out of the theoretical realm, and into the world of charity and philanthropy, through his social networking site.

Six Degrees is a normal social networking site in that you create a profile and add connections. It differs from Facebook and LinkedIn, however, in that your profile (and the nature of your connections) is based upon what charities you support and find worthwhile, rather than what movies you like or your educational background. The site, hosted by Network for Good, and given support from various celebrities, and has raised over 2.5 million dollars to date through its "charity badge" approach. A user has 250 words in their "badge" to describe their situation and the charity which they support. They can then place that badge on their personal blog or website.

Despite the impressive monetary results, I'm a little skeptical of this approach to fundraising. It seems a little incomplete: the site only deals with monetary donations. What about volunteer work? I'd say Bacon's site is a clever one (though very reminiscent of Facebook's Causes), and certainly has done a large amount of good, but it could learn a thing or two from other socially-conscious social networking sites, such as Youth Noise.

Dana Variano

Posted at 1:00 AM, Mar 04, 2009 in Technology | Permalink