Google Launches Nonprofit Portal

This is a big deal. If you go to Google Finance, you can now search for charities by name and pull up data about them, news stories, blog posts and leave comments in a discussion forum (hat tip to “a fundraiser”). As far as I know this is brand new and as far as I know, I’m the first person to leave a comment in a discussion group.

On the Red Cross page, I wrote:

Is the Red Cross Effective? I don’t mean do they have low overhead expenses or some silly measure like that. I mean do they take donor dollars and use them to fund an organization that produces high levels of social impact? If the answer is yes, I’d love to know about any data that backs this claim up.

Thanks to anyone who can help.

Sean Stannard-Stockton
TacticalPhilanthropy.com

It was just last month that a One Post Challenge entry suggested that Google should buy GuideStar. Maybe Google thinks they can do it alone.

I think this is a game changer. If these Google pages resided at the top of the search results when people look up nonprofits, than these pages will become de facto home pages, but with blog posts, new stories and discussions that are both positive and negative. What if you’re a donor thinking about giving to the Red Cross and the first link you find is the Google Finance page? You take a look and find a question from someone asking if the Red Cross is effective… and no response from the Red Cross.

This is a big deal.

But it is obviously beta. Right now there is no silly overhead expense ratio analysis. But on the other hand Google bizarrely lists “Key Stats and Ratios” that are all blank, since the stats and ratios all refer to profitability measures. What data will Google choose to display? The choices they make will influence donors and the flow of charitable dollars in a big way.

What information do you think Google should list? I’ll do my best to get suggestions in front of Google.

If you want your voice heard, check out the Google Finance site, search for a nonprofit and leave your own comment in the discussion forum. You’ll be one of the first.

12 Comments

  1. Rob Johnston says:

    I agree. This could be a big change. I hope Google builds on this, adds the 990 forms, and invites all to use it as a nonprofit resource.

  2. You are right: This is huge. But what does it say about the usage or priority of Guidestar or Great Nonprofits? Should Google’s role with this be to filter and aggregate the data from those sites that already exists and continues to grow and become more applicable? I don’t think the answer to every ‘we can do it’ should be ‘so we should’ but maybe ‘how do we best bring together great data that already exists’? After all, Google IS, to most people, first and foremost a search engine making quality and pertinent data easy to find.

  3. Thanks for surfacing this, Sean. I wonder how Google is choosing the nonprofits. American Cancer Society is there but Volunteermatch, Network for Good, CompuMentor are not.

  4. Rob Johnston says:

    I noticed a few others organizations not in the Google Finance mix. At first I thought Google was following the lead of Hoovers, which it uses for the summary. Then I searched for a few organizations not in Google Finance that ARE found in Hoovers. I assume the selection is based on some algorithm, not any hand picking. On the other hand, Guidestar is not to be found…

  5. Tim Ogden says:

    I think there is something ironic about the back to back posts on Great Nonprofits and Google Finance. As Amy asks, one has to wonder if there is a point to Great Nonprofits if Google is really going to do this — just by being who they are Google will have much more reach than Great Nonprofits. Will Google exert its monopoly power over access to information to push GN and others out of business?

  6. Google produces very little of its own data. I would guess that Google will be most useful as an aggregator of information about nonprofits. Certainly they will push some players out of the way, but even with Froogle, many other shopping comparison sites exist. Even with Google News, many other news aggregators exist.

    I think Google Finance for Nonprofits is most interesting because it may soon be that any google search for a nonprofit brings the google finance page up first. If this is true, then the information they deem important will become what donors see as important. When Google Finance launched, it was no big deal because Yahoo Finance and a ton of other sites already existed. But Google really only has Guidestar and Charity Navigator as other major players.

    I wonder how quickly the Google Finance for Nonprofits page will have a Network for Good link? Or might Google’s money transfer system be geared up as a competitor to Network for Good?

  7. This certainly has the potential to change the game. The problem with Guidestar is that it is a very proprietary way of dealing with data; I believe there is a $25k fee for using their API to automate data requests to their system.

    An information aggregator tackles the problem in a different way, focusing on how to bring together information most meaningfully. I don’t think Google will take a proprietary stand on the information; as Sean pointed out, Google is not in the content creation or even analysis business. In an ideal world, this wouldn’t put other nonprofit comparison portals out of business; it might give them an incredibly powerful source to automatically pull data from, however.

    If the data from this service becomes freely available, then why shouldn’t we see the rise of portals dedicated to specific functional areas (nonprofit management, administrative costs, transparency, technology use, etc) or portals organized by focus area (nonprofits working on hunger, world peace, civic engagement, etc), all partly powered by services such as Google?

    Organizations with expertise in these subject areas would be well positioned to organize Google’s general data in more meaningful ways, with a more specific / focused scope. I’m hoping that Google takes this approach; this service could make the life of the nonprofit portal builder much easier, just as Google Maps completely changed the mapping / GIS game a couple of years ago.

    Dave.

  8. Beth Kanter says:

    I’m a little behind with the nptech summary due to snow days, but couldn’t resist a visual mashup ..

  9. Jason says:

    I think your posts about the Non-profit Portal are really interesting. I can’t find a specific non-profit portal on the Google Finance page. Are you talking generally about seeing non-profit’s listed or is there a place I’ve missed?

  10. Hey Jason, I shouldn’t have used the word “portal”. The Google Finance portal is the same, they just list charities in the database now. It may actually not be new. It may be that they’ve always listed them but no one looked for it before. But I haven’t found any mention of it any where online until a week ago, so I’m assuming it is new.

  11. Rick Rose says:

    One part of Google’s site to consider: it does not cover ALL nonprofits. From a first glance, it appears that their information is generated by Hoover’s. This seems to inherently limit their coverage to large, national nonprofits and universities. Trying checking for a modest-sized nonprofit with revenues under $1 million, for example. What are the terms for inclusion in their database? What is the goal of the site, in terms of coverage?