CauseWired Book Reviews

Here’s what people are saying about CauseWired: Plugging In, Getting Involved, Changing the World:

“In CauseWired, Tom Watson has written the seminal book on peer-to-peer philanthropy and its counterpart movements in politics and branding.”—Charles Best, Founder, DonorsChoose.org

Tom Watson is one the nation’s leading voices on philanthropy. Watson examines how social networks have had a major impact on causes, and exhorts all of us to be more involved at a time when our contributions—not just of money—but of time and knowledge, are so valuable. Times are tough, and tough times are the best times to change the world. —Ali Velshi, Senior Business Correspondent, CNN

“Whether you’re a net-native college student or a geezer like me, CauseWired is required reading if want to understand the future of activism and engagement. Tom Watson gives deep, insider perspectives on the transformative potential of social networking and other innovations for linking communication and compassion.”—Mario Morino, Chairman, Venture Philanthropy Partners

“With eloquence and enthusiasm borne of deep experience in the world of social change and philanthropy, Tom Watson describes the intersection of causes and technology and shares a compelling vision of a philanthropic future powered by the social web. This is an essential book about one of the Internet’s most important functions: bringing people together to help make our world a better place.”—Peter Daou, Internet Advisor to Senator Hillary Clinton

“CauseWired is a fascinating look into the rapidly evolving world of the Internet, social networking, and social change. Watson demonstrates how individuals are using new digital outlets and tools—most importantly, blogging, social networking, and online giving platforms—to explore how we may each act to impact the critical events of our day, from the 2008 election to Hurricane Katrina and Darfur. His engaging writing style and breadth of perspective help us see not only what is happening today, but what will happen in the years to come as we each act upon our potential to change our world and communities.”—Jed Emerson, Managing Director for Integrated Performance, Uhuru Capital

“If you don’t want to be left behind in our new wired society—or if you’re already behind—this book is a must-read! Tom Watson has produced what could be a marketing bible for the field of philanthropy, and a primer for individuals who want to help change the world.” —Judy Miller, Director, Hilton Humanitarian Prize

From the Blogs:

Beth Kanter, Beth’s Blog [full review]

[CauseWired] is a very well written and researched look at how these tools have been are being leveraged for social change in way that is new and will continue have major implications. The book is a cogent analysis of the past, current, and future of online activism and fundraising using social networking tools. It’s the perfect book to hand an executive director or board member or Communications VP who may not be as hands on with these tools as we are – and needs to understand the big picture.

Scott Edward Anderson, the green skeptic [full review]

The best trend watchers are sharp observers of the present moment. They have a knack for assessing a trend as it’s developing and making it come alive for the rest of us.

Think Tom Peters, Jim Collins, Malcolm Gladwell, Faith Popcorn. Now add Tom Watson to that list.

Watson, veteran consultant, journalist, and entrepreneur, gives us CauseWired: Plugging In, Getting Involved, Changing the World, published last month by Wiley. It’s an important book. Why?

Because what Watson analyzes here is a trend that will effect the entire non-profit sector and has implications for how change will happen in the future…

Anyone interested in the future of philanthropy should read this book, because the future has arrived.

Lucy Bernholz, JustMeans [full review]

Tom Watson’s book, CauseWired, was released earlier this month. The book is a must read for nonprofits, community organizers, social entrepreneurs and advocates looking for motivation and examples of social media at work. The book reads much like Watson’s blog of the same name and he has pulled together a coherent narrative of the rapid rise of social media and social causes. My favorite part of the book is Watson’s take on the relationships between “old” and “new” philanthropy – an argument or title that usually sends me screaming from the room. But Watson gets it right – to put it simply, the TV didn’t kill radio, and these two forms – which are ever co-evolving – are interdependent and dynamically linked.

Sean Stannard-Stockton, Tactical Philanthropy [full review]

Most people in philanthropy kind of get that the web and “social media” applications are having an important impact on the field, but they don’t really understand what it all means. If this describes you, you need to make it your New Year’s resolution to read the outstanding book CauseWired: Plugging In, Getting Involved, Changing the World by Tom Watson.

Tom is a social media guru in the social sector. He is behind the excellent site OnPhilanthropy and has been writing about the Internet since at least the mid 1990’s. What makes CauseWired such an important book is that it is not a book about technology. It is a book about social change. It is a book about causes and how a new set of tools and tactics is changing the way that change happens. Tom doesn’t just explain what Facebook Causes “is” he explains why it matters.

Writing in an ultra-readable style, Tom draws you into the strange, evolving world of social media. Unlike so many people who write about technology, Tom doesn’t geek out on the high-tech elements of the web. What he realizes and what he communicates so well to his readers is the idea that the social web is just a new tool set for impacting the cause.

Benjamin Ellis, redcatco [full review]

If you’re in business, and you plan to hire or work with millennials, you better have a cause and/or be involved in one. CauseWired is a good place to start understanding that world. This book doesn’t aim to dig into the depths of social media. It isn’t going to lose the uninitiated, and experts shouldn’t expect any great revelations in that domain. It does illuminate wired causes, and provide a wealth of illustrations. If you work for a charity or not-for-profit, read this book. Digest it. Then read it again. It is the new shape of your world.

For our own mental well being, all of us need to be involved in something that transcends the ‘me’ and engages with the ‘us’, something that reaches beyond the ‘now’ to the tomorrow and beyond. If you haven’t done that yet, then Tom’s book will give you insight into what can be achieved, together with a list of places to get engaged in a rewarding way.

Max Gladwell, Social Media and Green Living [full review]:

One way to express the measure of a book for us can be the ratio of total pages to those we’ve flagged with the venerable dog ear. These are the pages that have a memorable line or a profound thought that we’d like to reference or revisit at a later time. These are the essence. Which is to say, one could read only the dog-eared pages and get a pretty good feel for that given book. Of CauseWired’s modest 200-some pages, we marked 22 as having these exceptional qualities. At about one in five, it’s quite possibly a record…

The title of the book is not only intended to describe the movement toward networked social and political action, but like The Long Tail, Groundswell, and Tipping Point, it’s predisposed for buzzword status. Which is to say it’s potentially a term that transcends the book itself and becomes a part of the language we use, where the entire meaning of the book can be conveyed in a single word: CauseWired…

In sum, this is a must-read for anyone in this burgeoning social-media-for-social-change space. It is recommended reading for anyone who wants to better understand what’s taking place on the social web in general. We’re officially adding it to our sidebar of recommended reading.

Steve MacLaughlin, Blackbaud [full review]:

Tom Watson explores the societal impact of online social networks in his new book CauseWired: Plugging In, Getting Involved, Changing the World (Wiley, November 2008) CauseWired is the first book focused on making sense of social media in the nonprofit world. Watson not only gets it — but he also explains why social media matters in understandable terms.

…Watson believes that there are two major trends on a collision course: “On one hand, people are ever more conscious of philanthropy and its role in commerce and society; on the other, these people are talking to each other more than ever before.” The traditional fundraising practices of acquisition, cultivation, and stewardship are forever changed by wired causes. Are you prepared?

…Tom Watson’s CauseWired is must reading for anyone in the nonprofit world.
Trista Harris, New Voices of Philanthropy [full review]

The book is a great study on how Gen X and Y are being philanthropic and how nonprofits are changing how they interact with the public to be more accessible using these tools. This is one of the few books that I read that immediately caused me to do something I said I would never do. After reading the first two chapters I opened a Facebook account and connected with … donors and volunteers.

CauseWired is a great study in how these web 2.0 tools are being used, who is using them effectively, and what the true potential is of these mediums….this book is a must read if you are developing strategies for reaching new donors and supporters using web tools.

JD Lasica, Social Media [full review]

Watson, a meticulous veteran journalist, offers an accessible, thoroughgoing lay of the land: He explores the efficacy of online efforts to end the genocide in Darfur, dissects the new phenomenon of peer-to-peer philanthropy, chronicles the rise of flash causes and looks at the impact of social media open source projects. Fortunately for us, the writer offers telling anecdotes and personal storytelling to keep the narrative engaging.

On an almost weekly basis I’m now bumping into the movers and shakers in the social causes world that Watson so artfully profiles in “CauseWired.” If you’re interested in getting a better grip on the burgeoning philanthropic and social change movements taking place on the Web, put down the mouse for a while and pick up Tom Watson’s excellent guide to people who are changing lives and to the causes that really matter.

Chuck Tryon, the Chutry Experiment [full review]

In all cases, Tom identifies individuals or groups who make use of available technologies in order to promote a social or political cause, and while he wisely resists turning CauseWired into a modified how-to book, his book can serve as a guide for thinking about how to use digital media to support or participate in a cause. In addition, while Tom is, no doubt, a proponent of online activism, he is, by no means, naive about the limitations of these online activities. He admits, for example, that the Facebook Causes application has not always resulted in the financial support that organizers of various causes would like to see. If my experience is any indication, I will often “join” or endorse causes simply because friends have joined and I feel some pressure to show solidarity with the politics. But as Tom is quick to point out, even this desire for “social validation” can reap benefits in unexpected ways.

Further, as the Facebook example illustrates, Tom points out that the “CauseWired” practices are especially attractive to a new generation of activists who are just now coming of age. Drawing from Hais and Winograd’s insightful Millennial Makeover, Tom traces out how teens and young adults are adapting their use of technology to their support for certain social causes. Here, Tom draws from his own experiences with his teenage daughter and their shared participation in certain causes.

Gregory Gerhardt, Amazee blog [full review]

Just about to finish a book? Let me recommend your next offline reading: CauseWired by Tom Watson. A great documentation of the nascent online movement that is using the internet as a force for social change.

Michael Smith, Green (Living) Review [full review]

“CauseWired” is a landmark guide to the next major technological and cultural shift. That of online social activism.

With his engaging writing style and breadth of perspective he helps the reader to see not only what is happening today, but also allows us a glimpse into the possible future of what will happen in the years to come as we each act upon our potential to change our world and communities.

For anyone not wanting to be left behind in our new wired society – or for those that may already be behind – this book is an absolutely must-read.

Tom Watson has produced here what could be described as a marketing bible for the field of philanthropy and a primer for individuals who want to help change the world.

Joey Mornin [full review]

Tom Watson’s new book, CauseWired, makes a point that’s beginning to be widely recognized, but it’s worth making again in book form: the tools of the connected age are realigning the way social change happens. This change touches all areas of socially conscious activity—nonprofit organizing, volunteering, philanthropy, and maybe most dramatically, small-donor fundraising. This shift is easy to sense, but tricky to pin down in concrete terms.

This book isn’t a handbook for nonprofits or foundations (despite the foreward by Jean Case of the Case Foundation). It’s not a recipe book. But it gives a clear look at how the landscape is quickly changing, and how we’ll all have to adapt to cope with this new ecosystem. I think Tom is quite right to make the case that we’re seeing a real paradigm shift; with the Internet and a new set of Web 2.0 tools, our arsenal for social change is starting to look quite a bit different.

Matt Kelland, The Mongoose [full review]

It’s easy to dismiss mass grass-roots activism as just a rent-a-mob, but that would be a mistake. True, some causes may be just a flash in the pan, but our leaders need to be aware that there are other issues that people – voters – really do give a shit about. I may not be personally affected by starvation in Darfur, by court-sanctioned rape in Pakistan, or be displaced to make room for a huge hydro power station, but I, and literally millions of others, don’t want to live in a world where those things happen, and I want those in power to damn well do something about it. When a million, or ten million people all stand up and say, “hey, buddy, this ain’t right,” they can’t help but take notice.

CauseWired isn’t a manual.. It won’t tell you how to change the world. However, it’s an important chronicle of a social upheaval in which the silent majority are being replaced with a vocal majority.

Alice Casey, Cased [full review]

…A fascinating chronicle of the way in which social media and connectedness is changing the face of philanthropy and activism. Tom W writes clear and interesting accounts of how regular people have used social media tools to highlight the ongoing issues they face in their community or that they care about across the globe. He disscusses the citizen-led coverage of New Orleans post Katrina, of how Darfur and cancer research centres came to be so well supported on Facebook, of how the face of political campaigning is being changed forever, and many other fascinating practical examples of social web tools in action

David Bailey [full review]

…I am in business, but I guess I have reached the age when ranting at my long suffering wife over the breakfast table about articles in the Sunday papers is just not enough. I want to change things, and some things really need changing.

If you have ever felt like that, then this is a book for you. Singing along to Nickelback’s “If Everyone Cared” is just not enough for you. Really, you need to get a few thousand people to change the world with you. And Tom’s book can help you.

It is not a “how to” book in the way of thousands of other pointless pages of lists. This is a down in the dirt, first hand reportage on some of the largest social movements on the Internet and what made it work for them. He documents how social change really happens, what kind of people it takes, and the tools of the trade. More importantly, he explains that if you set out to change society, then you might very well succeed. That, to me, is one scary message: are we ready for the power that we now have in our CauseWired Internet Age hands? Are we educating our children and our friends about the responsibility that comes with such power?

Jaymi Heimbuch, TreeHugger [full review]

You’re here on TreeHugger, so you likely feel a connection between being online and being active in social change. That connection – using the internet as a means of doing good for the world – is quickly spreading thanks to the rise of social networking, free-to-use platforms for websites, and a broadening number of devices through which we can connect to the web.

Tom Watson has dubbed this as being “Causewired.” In his new book by that title, Watson explores how this connection came to be, how it is currently being used, and how things are going to change to keep us linked up to the activism that is changing the world.

Allison Fine, Social Citizens [full review]

Some books come and go very quickly. Others are stickier and crystallize and capture a moment in time. CauseWired by Tom Watson fits perfectly into the latter category…At first glance the ribald, roiling world of online activism can feel overwhelmingly chaotic – and that’s exactly why CauseWired is so important. Watson makes sense of this new world by using real-world people and stories and creates a fun, fast read — go and get yourself a copy!

Christine Guardia, KooDooZ [review]

A new book, CauseWired by Tom Watson, chronicles the emergence of online activism and philanthropy, such as Causes within Facebook and Kiva, which allows users to micro-finance entrepreneurs in developing countries. Philanthropy is not limited to the Rockefellers, Gateses or Buffetts; we can all have an impact and it does not have to be by writing a large check – it can be by adding a cause badge to your social networking profile, buying an item affiliated with a cause or volunteering at a local nonprofit.

Sharon Keller, Texas Moratorium Network [review]

Anyone interested in using online activism against the death penalty should take a look at the new book, CauseWired: Plugging In, Getting Involved, Changing the World. It is about using online activism to change the world.

John Dodds, Make Marketing History [full review]

Tom Watson has written a really interesting book … in which he expands on themes espoused by Clay Shirky with specific reference to social activism, charity and philanthropy.

It is required reading. Not just because of the importance of the subject matter, not just because increasingly your business demonstrably has to stand for something, but also because it is filled with lessons in low cost marketing and you just know you’re going to be expected to market smarter in the coming years.

Avax Home ebook reviews [link]

An empowering road map to anyone serious about understanding the social impact on the social web, CauseWired: Plugging In, Getting Involved, Changing the World redefines twenty-first-century activism, presenting real-world stories of some of the people—famous and almost unknown—powering this movement. Filled with insider perspectives on the transformative potential of social networking through networks such as MySpace, Facebook, and SaveDarfur, this timely book reveals how you can leverage your blogs and online social networks to effect positive change, improve your communities, and change your world.

Christine Monnier, The Global Sociology Blog [full review]

I found the book most inspiring when Watson goes through the different tools created and the experiences of social entrepreneurs and their projects. It certainly gave a me a lot of food for thoughts and ideas as to how I could promote a social entrepreneurship online structure at my college to promote alongside the new global / environmental / peace / leadership studies programs we are creating. And I certainly plan on making a lot of people read the book for that purpose.

Strategist’s Personal Library [full review]

CauseWired: Plugging In, Getting Involved, Changing the World by Tom Watson is a book that looks at the changes to social activism created by advances in social networking…Recommended!

Frank Martinelli, Nonprofit Picks of the Week [full review]

From Facebook causes and campaigns on MySpace, to a raft of new startups and innovative projects, and political movements like the Obama campaign and Save Darfur, this immensely relevant book delivers actionable research and recommendations to help readers launch their own successful wired social campaigns.

In the Media:

BBC News: How politics will change the web

MSNBC: What nonprofits can learn from Obama’s win

About.com: Best NonProfit Books of 2008

Huffington Post: Can the Internet Prevent Another Aisha?

The Riverdale Press: Voting Is Not Enough

Manchester (UK) Evening News: Obama and the power of internet mobilisation

Stanford Social Innovation Review

Newsweek: Blogging Like The World Depended On It

Huffington Post: Fish Texting and the Great Green Wave

The Industry Standard: CauseWired Quote Of The Day

1 Comment»

[…] social activist In Online Social Activism on March 3, 2009 at 9:47 pm Tom Watson, author of CauseWired, discusses the rise of online social activism and the growth of causes on the […]


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