google: you

You are who google says you are.

According to a July 2008 Nonprofit Times article, after receiving a piece of direct mail, 44% of the people who receive it will look up the sending organization online. That’s a big increase from the 25% mark in 2005. That increase cuts across every demographic, so don’t get suckered into thinking your donors won’t be looking you up online when you send them mail. Count on it. They’re checking you out.

// The founders of Google

So what are the implications?

1. Your website better be ready. Are you integrating your direct mail and newsletters with your website? If there’s a disconnect in messaging and art, you can expect a “disconnect” from the donor. When’s the last time you sat down at a computer that didn’t “know” your website and entered your URL cold with no cookie memory? Is it the experience you want it to be? Better yet, get someone who doesn’t know what your website is “supposed” to do, try to make it all work. Can they find that really cool donate button? Does your site look like the same people who mail them newsletters and appeals? If not, FIX IT NOW.

2. You are who google says you are. When’s the last time you googled your organization’s name? Or the name of your letter signer? (Or your name?) That’ll be an educational experience. Don’t forget that many if not most people will enter your URL in the google search box. So, rather than jumping directly to your site, they’ll see first your search results. Have you checked what that would look like? And if you don’t like what you see there are options. Wired recently ran an interesting article on google reputations.

3. Integration of online video, pURLS and other nifty strategies are easier. A few years ago the catalog guys thought they would be done with printed catalogs. Not so. People flip through catalogs, go online to see more and call the 800 number–all at the same time. Rather than one single channel, we’re using several all at one time. We’re working on a blog on our thinking on the cool, cool, cool, effective strategies involving pURLs for major donors.

Get out there and google your ministry…and yourself.


Steve Thomas
Partner, Oneicity

(photo credits: Joi Ito of Inbamura, Japan)

Steve Thomas

Steve Thomas

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