organizations are increasingly engaging in online philanthropy to promote their
mission, communicate with constituents and fundraise. Volunteer-matching
websites, strategic email marketing, social media tools and click-and-give
2005, the GoodSearch search engine
emerged as a way for nonprofits and schools to raise money for their mission
simply by surfing the web. Partners with Yahoo!, GoodSearch donates $0.01 to a
user’s designated charity for each Internet search conducted through the site.
date, more than 110,000 nonprofits and schools have joined GoodSearch,
collectively earning more than $9.9 million. But does it really work? According
to a 2010 study of 400 registered GoodSearch organizations, it depends.
study randomly selected 400 of the nearly 87,000 registered nonprofits with the
GoodSearch site (as of 2009) to investigate trends in GoodSearch revenue.
Through data analysis and a 14-question survey, the study sought to answer a
number of questions: What is the average revenue generated? Do certain
organizations yield more money than others? Are there any strategies to
achieving success? The goal was to help nonprofits wisely allocate their limited
resources when developing their online fundraising strategy.
the 400 organizations studied, nearly 89 percent earned less than $100 through
GoodSearch, with nearly a quarter earning nothing. The most revenue earned was
$1,700, which represented less than 1 percent of the organization’s total
revenue. GoodSearch touts the great success of organizations like the ASPCA;
however, the $10,000 the ASPCA raised through the site in 2008 was a drop in
the bucket compared to its $127 million in revenue the same year.
the revenue potential is modest for those who join GoodSearch, many
organizations choose to use this free, relatively simple form of online
fundraising to increase their web presence, join the e-philanthropy movement or
appeal to the desires of board members. Whatever the reason, nonprofit
professionals should bear in mind several factors to make the most of
GoodSearch for their organization:
consider your mission. Organizations with a religious mission, such as
faith-based services, and those with sports and recreation programs, such as
school athletic teams, earn more revenue than other nonprofits studied. The
reason why is unclear, but you’re more likely to see success if you fit one of
Second, stick with it. Revenue tends to increase with each
additional year of use from an average of $3.53 in the first year to about $82
in the fourth year. The longer and more frequently you use it, the more your
money will grow.
Third, promote GoodSearch to your constituents. Web-based
marketing is the most effective strategy for increasing GoodSearch revenue.
GoodSearch offers its logo and other free, user-friendly tools to assist participating
nonprofits with their marketing efforts. Those organizations that took
advantage of these tools raised more money than those that did not.
Web-based announcements about GoodSearch also contributed to
increased revenue. Post the GoodSearch logo on your website along with a blurb
that links directly to the site. This makes it easy for your supporters to get
started and will result in more money earned.
Finally, manage your expectations and those of your staff and
board. GoodSearch will not be your organization’s answer to its fundraising
woes. But it is a fun, free and rather easy way to generate some money for your
agency’s cause. And in the nonprofit world, small gifts can make a difference.
Since the original study was conducted in 2010, GoodSearch has added new
features such as GoodShop and GoodDining and launched a new website and logo
which differ from images presented in the study’s appendix.
Ann Roper Bowen
holds a Master in Public Administration with a concentration in Nonprofit Leadership
from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Her research of
GoodSearch was conducted during her graduate study at UNC. After three years in
membership development and communications with the YMCA of South Hampton Roads
in Norfolk, Va., Ann is staying at home with her young twins.
Labels: Ann Bowen, Ann Roper Bowen, fundraising, GoodSearch