I want to make something very clear regarding Google Finance’s inclusion of nonprofits and my visit to Google.org next week.
In my last post I wrote, “Google.org owes me nothing and anything I tell them might be ignored.” I want to expand on that so that everyone’s expectations are clear. Google Finance is a product of Google.com. Google.org is separate from Google.com and did not work with them on Google Finance. I am not clear how it came to be that nonprofits are in the Google Finance database, but Google.org was not involved.
I was invited to meet with an employee of Google.org after a program officer at another foundation introduced us by email and pointed the Google.org employee to my blog postings on nonprofit data within Google Finance. My conversation with this employee is off the record.
Why am I meeting with Google.org? I believe that it is critical that better information about nonprofits be made available so that philanthropic capital flows more efficiently. Google.com is THE dominate source of information in the world today. They are currently making a certain set of information about nonprofits available. It is clear from the data being presented that the information is not complete (some of the information, like profit margin is not even relevant). While Google.org is separate from Google.com, it is Google.com’s philanthropic wing and is more closely aligned with the parent company than any other corporate foundation.
Google.com has two choices with what to do with the nonprofit data in Google Finance. Delete it or significantly improve it. My hope is that given the expertise and influence of the Tactical Philanthropy readership, we can impress upon Google.com via Google.org to keep the data and improve it in a way that will help the field. I also hope that if Google.org does not already recognize the opportunity, that the attention all of us are putting on it will help them realize the massive leverage they could attain by improving the information flow in the philanthropic capital markets and improving the efficiency with which the $300 billion+ donated to nonprofits each year is allocated.
Now that we’re all on the same page, dive into the comments section of my last post and add your thoughts to the growing conversation.
Just an observation – it appears that the Google Finance data is merely a pull from Hoovers, their content provider. I contacted Hoovers to see how non profits get “listed” and got a voicemail from a guy there saying that Hoovers only includes organizations with “$100 million or more.” Not clear is this is revenue, assets, or what. I haven’t personally spent the time to evaluate whether every .org that shows up on Google Finance has $100MM of something, but it appears that it’s not for the little guy for sure. Bottom line, my view is that this stuff doesn’t belong in the Finance area, but in a non profit section they could easily create using others’ data (Guidestar being the obvious partner for US, perhaps GG for non 501(c)3s. Just some additional info as you go talk to them…
Donna, I’ve speculated in previous posts about whether this data is in Google Finance on purpose or if Hoover’s just added it to the feed without Google really being aware (note that many cities have pages as well). However, the people at Google.org, while not saying they have any plans to doing anything with the Finance portal (nor saying that Google.com does) have been very interested in these posts and reader comments. I’m operating under the assumption that Google.com/.org will do something to significantly improve the current nonprofit data.
Thanks for the investigative work!