I don’t know the inside story of how and why Google began including nonprofits in Google Finance. I almost wonder if it was an accident. Google pipes in data from Hoovers.com, which in turn has some limited info on nonprofits. Poking around Google Finance, I realized they also include profiles of cities (like this page for San Francisco).
The Google Finance nonprofit pages seem to not just be in beta, but appear to have not actually have been designed intentionally. For instance, the page on the Red Cross includes “Key Stats & Ratios” such as Net Profit Margin, which of course is not relevant for a nonprofit. The page also refers to “Related Companies”, instead of a more appropriate heading like “Related Organizations”.
So let’s assume for a moment that we have a bit of a blank slate to work with. If you were designing a template for the Google Finance nonprofit pages, what would you include? I was just cc’d on an email to Larry Brilliant asking him to consider some suggestions for what info might be made available on these pages and the sender is someone who is use to getting replies to his emails. So while we might have limited input into what Google eventually does, I don’t think this discussion is academic.
Here’s what I would like to see on the nonprofit pages:
Key Stats and Ratios: I would rename this “Key Stats” and not include any ratios. Displaying ratios imply that the ratio should be high or low, but very few ratios in the nonprofit world are all that relevant. In the for-profit world, most ratios include some sort of profitability number (not relevant to nonprofits), valuation metrics (not relevant to nonprofits) or are balance sheet ratios showing assets or debt (for nonprofits a big cash hoard can be viewed either positively or negatively). Instead, include info like: Fundraising Total, Total Budget, Total Employees, Endowment, etc. My strongest feeling is that the most important thing is for Google to avoid any mention of overhead expense ratios. Google has a chance to break the grip that overhead expense ratios have on donors and the media.
Overview: Right now, the Hoover’s profile is here. I’d like to see Google partner with someone more focused on the nonprofit sector than Hoover’s is.
Discussion: This is great. Don’t change a thing!
News: Recent headlines is a nice feature.
Blog Posts: Only some of the nonprofit pages include this section. This seems odd since I assume there must be only one template. But of course I would like to see this section maintained or expanded.
Related Companies: Calling this “Related Organizations” would make more sense. I think in this area Google should leverage their Map software and show me not only similar organizations, but local ones as well. If I’m looking at the Red Cross site from my home outside of San Francisco, I’d like to see disaster relief organizations that focus on the Bay Area.
Resources: This is a section I’d like to see added. Display links to GiveWell, Great Nonprofits, the nonprofit’s 990, the nonprofit’s website, a Wikipedia page, etc.
Video: Allow nonprofits to upload video content that donors can watch to get a better understanding of the organization.
Donate: Partner with Network for Good to allow donors to give directly to the nonprofit.
Contact info: Display contact info.
Blogging: Why not integrate with Blogger and offer a hosted blog to nonprofits to write their own blog?
Events: Include a list of upcoming events that the nonprofit is hosting or participating in.
Lastly, I’d like to see an area where the nonprofit can upload their own text about the organization as well as their answers to a set of predefined questions such as, “How does your organization track its effectiveness” as well as provide links to information such as mission statement, historical goals and what was actually achieved.
What would you like to see on the page? Leave a comment on this post and I’ll do what I can to get the suggestions into the right hands at Google.