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Oh Brother! Where Art Thou


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#1 bragadocchio

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Posted 02 January 2008 - 04:01 PM

A lot of the papers that I've read about internet mapping programs point out the economic realities of commercial activity on the web versus nonprofit and noncommercial actions.

Many directories online will list a business and address information about that business for a fee. Many nonprofits, parks, schools, churches, and other organizations don't go hunting for fee-based directories to be listed within. Unfortunately, many nonprofits also don't have websites, or don't display their address information prominently. So address information for nonprofits can be sparse.

When a nonprofit relies upon volunteers, donations, vendors, and making it easy for visitors to come to their offices, it could be really helpful for information about that organization to be found easily at places like Google Maps, or Yahoo Local. My experiences searching for nonprofits shows that many are almost invisible when it comes to these mapping programs.

A program like Google Maps collects information about the locations of organizations at specific locations from telecom data that they purchase, from directories online, and from crawling websites.

I wonder, looking at the text on the Google Local Business Cnter, how inviting that page might be to nonprofits:

Use the Local Business Center to create your free listing. When potential customers search Maps for local information, they'll find your business: your address, hours of operation, even photos of your storefront or products. It's easy, free, and you don't need a website of your own.


Would it be painful for Yahoo Local to add a nonprofit section to their list of categories?

Or for Ask City to make it clearer that they will show nonprofits?

Microsoft's Maps Live does have a "Government and Communities" section that lists charitable organizations. It's not really clear how someone might add information about one, though.

Wouldn't it be interesting if the search engines did something to make it easier for nonprofits to list their location information, or at least make it seem like that information was welcomed?

#2 tam

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Posted 02 January 2008 - 05:24 PM

There are a lot of non profits, particularly small local ones that don't want to list their address information. Often because they don't have offices! They are run by volunteers from their homes who do not want their home address on the web. General sites that ask for location want a full address and won't except a general town/location or PO box.

#3 bwelford

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Posted 02 January 2008 - 05:37 PM

Good to see you, Tam. I wonder whether a physical address is an additional service that some local web design company could offer as part of a simple website service package. It would be the online equivalent of offering physical office space.

#4 SEOigloo

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Posted 02 January 2008 - 05:58 PM

Hi Bill,
My thought on this was the same as Tam's...so many non-profits seem to be home-based, run by members out of their houses. My sister, at one time, ran a non-profit like this for the parents of children with heart anomalies. It was all done from her computer, and from the computers of her network of members all over the country. In addition to their being no real office for the business, the idea of making one's home address public is not appealing to many people.

That being said, I agree with you that anything that can make it easier for non-profits to be visible to potentially interested benefactors or members would be great. The option to add to the Local profile a mission statement would be a welcome addition, no doubt, for any non-profit and would add to the informativeness of this feature.


Interesting post!
Miriam

#5 tam

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Posted 02 January 2008 - 06:15 PM

Good to see you, Tam. I wonder whether a physical address is an additional service that some local web design company could offer as part of a simple website service package. It would be the online equivalent of offering physical office space.


Hiya :D My experience is specific to animal rescue but another reason they don't advertise physical addresses is because it tends to result in people turning up announced (assuming it is an office) or leaving boxes of animals on the doorstep. I don't think the web design company would be too impressed.

Most of the non-profits that work that way also tend to be the ones that don't pay for web design. The ones that can afford it are more likely to be the ones that also have official addresses. I imagine there is some overlap though where that might be a good solution if the web companies amenable.

Tam

#6 bragadocchio

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Posted 02 January 2008 - 07:14 PM

There are a lot of non profits, particularly small local ones that don't want to list their address information. Often because they don't have offices! They are run by volunteers from their homes who do not want their home address on the web.


That is a challenge for many of those smaller organizations. It's one shared by many home and profit based business, too.

But there are many nonprofits that do have physical locations where they do welcome visitors. Those may include schools and educational facilities, small museums, larger rescue and rehab places, community centers, and so on. Sadly, many of these places would benefit from having an improved visibility on the Web, with their location available to others but aren't easy to find.

Yes, on the people showing up with injured animals. I've done a little volunteering with a bird rescue and rehabilitation place, and they get a lot of injured birds brought to them all of the time. But, they are set up to handle that kind of traffic.

The option to add to the Local profile a mission statement would be a welcome addition, no doubt, for any non-profit and would add to the informativeness of this feature.



Hi Miriam,

There's room in a Google Business Central listing to put additional information like that, and possibly even information about volunteers and donations. It's not really clear from the front page of the Business Central, but it's a possibility.

These would be the kinds of things that could benefit food banks, job retraining centers, and many other types of nonprofits where sharing a location may be essential to the mission of the organization.

Most of the non-profits that work that way also tend to be the ones that don't pay for web design. The ones that can afford it are more likely to be the ones that also have official addresses. I imagine there is some overlap though where that might be a good solution if the web companies amenable.


One of the other nice things about Google Business Central is that you don't need to even have a web site to be listed. It's not a directory of links and sites, but rather of organizations and their locations. So, for a nonprofit that hasn't put up a site, or doesn't have much in the way of location listed on their site, a Google Maps listing may be a way of getting some additional information online about their organization without paying a web designer to do it.

#7 alegriasharon

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Posted 07 January 2008 - 01:45 PM

These are some excellent thoughts. As co-founder with my husband of a non-profit, a physical address for our organization has been an ongoing problem since we were founded in 1996. This was magnified by the fact that the organization does most of its work outside of the USA! We have come up with various solutions, but none have been ideal. I wonder if anyone has used a mailbox service to deal with the physical address problem (as opposed to a P.O. Box)? We have contemplated that but haven't tried it.

I'm looking forward to the interaction and opportunity to learn and share. I just signed up for this forum today!

#8 bwelford

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Posted 07 January 2008 - 02:15 PM

Welcome to the Forums, alegriasharon. :wave:

I used a mailbox service some years ago and it worked just fine. It provided the physical location, which is required for some types of registration.

#9 alegriasharon

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Posted 07 January 2008 - 05:56 PM

Thanks, that's good to know. I appreciate the response. And I wonder if there is anyone else who might have some experience or ideas about this.



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