United States

Google introduces Knowledge Graph for nonprofit organizations

MUSE  | 

In April, Google announced that they are expanding the Knowledge Graph search tool to include information on nonprofit ( NFP) organizations. This development promises to give organizations a valuable new tool for promoting their activities to the public. Knowledge Graph, in conjunction with a Google+ profile, can be used as a social media vehicle for increasing an NFP's profile among potential donors and community members.

In today's information age, time-strapped internet users want their queries answered quickly and efficiently. Knowledge Graph addresses this need by delivering a concise set of facts, leads and other content in one single step. For example, when a user searches for an NFP on the Google site, Knowledge Graph will display information about that organization on the right side of the results, including its logo, a brief explanation of its mission, financial data and other key business information.

The concise results are instantly available on the search page, which means that the user does not have to search websites separately to gather this information. It's an easy and fast way to ensure one is searching for the right NFP organization. Users can also follow an organization's Google+ postings without ever leaving the search results page.

What information is displayed?

The information in Knowledge Graph can include:

  • Description
  • Logo
  • Tax ID
  • Founding date
  • Founders
  • Tax code
  • Category
  • Assets
  • Revenue
  • Number of followers on Google+
  • The organization's most recent Google+ Postings
  • Links to the Google+ pages of similar organizations

How does it work?

The key to effective use of Knowledge Graph is to have a robustly developed Google+ page. This means including many types of content on the Google+ page, and keeping it regularly updated. In fact, having a Google+ account is a requirement for any organization that wants to take advantage of Knowledge Graph. So if you have not created a Google+ page or are not familiar with the tool, you should first learn about its many options, features and uses.

Once a Google+ account has been created, the NFP organization will be able to keep its followers informed by posting updates about its activities and events, uploading videos, posting pictures, and sharing articles and news. All of this information could help increase Google+ followers and raise the organization's profile and visibility, and this will be especially true as Knowledge Graph becomes more established and popular over time.

What does this mean to your organization?

Knowledge Graph harnesses the power of search to quickly and efficiently deliver the most important information about an NFP organization directly to the user. It functions as a new form of social network that could assist organizations in attracting new donors and retaining an existing donor base. By strategically populating the Google+ page with positive and relevant information, a charitable organization could attract more followers and ultimately, increase their base of donations. For membership organizations, successful information sharing on the site could enhance membership numbers and also attract interest in its mission and cause.

As with any social media tool, however, appropriate due diligence is the best approach. To ensure that a Google+ page is consistent with other organizational objectives, your organization might want to coordinate its social media strategy with its public relations and tax departments. This will allow you to use the Google+ page to supplement the information already presented in your organization's Form 990, which is automatically posted to various websites after the form is processed by the Internal Revenue Service.

Care should be taken in what you actually do post on the Google+ account. It's possible that something mentioned in your postings, whether casually or intentionally, could lead tax authorities to falsely believe that you are operating outside your recognized tax-exempt purpose(s). Thus, you should use a Google+ account with the same care that you would employ when you are setting forth arguments for continued tax-exempt status on the annually filed Form 990.

All in all, you should strive to put your organization in the best possible light on your Google+ page. As the functionality of the site is enhanced over time, Knowledge Graph will give users the power to learn many things about your organization, including the power to compare and contrast your organization with others like it - all while being just one click away.

For more information

To learn more about Knowledge Graph and how it can be used as a promotional tool, you will find additional information at Google's website.