So imagine this scenario: You work at an NGO. It’s 4:45 Friday afternoon and your Executive Director pops into your cube. The ED says, “Hey, a board member just invited me to dinner downtown with “A Fictional Person”, who’s a potential donor. Since everyone has gone, can you find out some stuff on AFP for me before I leave in 20 minutes? I heard the guy works for Groupon.”
Eager to be helpful, you drink half your coffee in one gulp and drop AFP’s name into Google. To the surprise of no one, a googolplex of results drowns your screen. What To Do?!
Now, didn’t one of your co-workers go to that APRA-IL seminar and lend you a handout on basic donor research? Yeah, that fundraising field that finds and analyzes publicly available asset and biographical information about potential donors. It can help your ED figure out if AFP is ready, willing, and able to support your NGO’s programs. There’s the handout – under the stapler!
• Search by exact wording. The tip sheet says that using double quotes and the plus sign ONLY returns results for A Fictional Person. Not a word more, not less. The Google search field looks like +“A Fictional Person”
• Restrict results by geographical location. I’m guessing AFP is local since they’re going to dinner in the Loop, so I’ll throw Chicago into the mix. The search field now looks like this: +“A Fictional Person” Chicago. Okay, some promising results. An AFP shows up in a few Trib and Crain’s articles. Hey, there’s a Tweet about a yacht named AFP in Belmont Harbor. And further down, a blog post about an AFP volunteering at a gerbil shelter on Pulaski. Hmm, could that be our person? AFP is a fairly common name so you’d hate to confuse them with someone else.
Yikes! Only four minutes left. Well, there’s one more tip:
• Restrict results by website. Try putting the plus sign, the person’s name in quotes, the website you want to search along with Google’s “site:” function in the search field. That means Google is ONLY going to search for A Fictional Person within Groupon.com. The search field now looks like +”A Fictional Person”site:www.groupon.com
Hey, check out that photo! Doesn’t the caption say it’s A Fictional Person? And isn’t AFP standing right next to our board member?! Wow, I bet that’s our guy!
With the “Chariots of Fire” theme song running through your head, you pass the most important information you found on A Fictional Person to an ecstatic and properly impressed dinner-goer.
Yes, they work for Groupon and from the job title, they look pretty senior. They may own a yacht (excellent wealth indicator!), and love gerbils so they’re likely to be an animal lover. You dump the rest of your cold coffee and triumphantly go home.
An October 2011 update: To my sorrow, Google has removed the + function from its search engine. See this blog post for tips on a work around – you put double quotes (” “) around “everything”.
Google Removes The + Search Command
Sabine Schuller, MLIS currently works at The Rotary Foundation as a Research Specialist where she identifies and analyzes potential U.S. and international donors for her gift officers based around the world. She has been an international business development analyst and a program officer, and is now enjoying her work as a donor researcher. She is a Program Committee member of APRA-Illinois. http://www.apra-il.org
Advanced Google search tips can be found here http://www.google.com/