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The Power of Google Alerts



I have used Google Alerts for many years, but it recently dawned on me just how useful they are and can be. I have always created alerts for my current clients and prospective client organizations, but there are so many more uses that Advancement Officers can employ to great benefit.

Your Alerts will send you an email with a link any time your subject hits the web – via a news article, obituary, web post or other. This real-time information can be enormously useful: in your efforts to reach prospects; keeping track of donors; providing content for stewardship interactions; learning of deaths and births in the family; being aware of business and corporate activity; tracking government representatives who champion your cause…and much more.

Here are some very useful ways to use Google Alerts:

Track Prospects

Enter the names of your portfolio’s top prospects and the town where they live or work: “Deborah Fine” Newton MA. Update your records with current information and adjust your objectives and strategies accordingly.

Track Donors for Stewardship

Enter the names of your top donors and the town where they live or work so you can be aware of issues in their lives, related to business or family. You can drop them a note to show them you have them in your thoughts. You can also track topics that are important to your donors, i.e. their favorite musician, and drop them a note.

Track Corporations

Enter the names of your top corporate donors and prospects to keep current on issues facing them that may include dramatic setbacks or breakthroughs, and conditions that may affect their philanthropic giving.

Track Potential Employers

When you are thinking of looking for a new career opportunity, enter the name of those organizations you have interest in pursuing, and keep current on their activities. You may find they are very active in the press, or are in the throes of a controversy. All are good to know about.

Track Political Issues

All of our organizations are affected by local, state and federal legislation and regulations. Alerts are a great way to track obscure issues that do not necessarily hit the media.

Track Social Issues

You may represent a homeless shelter in Akron, OH, so an Alert for – homeless Akron – will send you all articles with these words in it. You may represent a hospital in Rolla, MO, so an Alert for – health Rolla – may yield fruit.

Track Competing Organizations

You should always be keeping your eye on organizations that have similar missions to yours or appeal to your donors. Monitor their fundraising events, leadership changes and other activities that your leaders and donors may be aware of. Being “in the know” ahead of them is always beneficial.

Track Your Organization

Alerts help you with Brand awareness about your organization. This is especially useful in larger organizations where many things are going on, some of which may have an impact on advancement. When you have an event and you are trying to get press attention, Alerts will show you everywhere an article appeared.

Track Yourself

Keep track of your brand and be sure that you always know when your name is hitting the web and under what circumstances. You never want to be in a position where someone saw you referenced in some article or post and you were unaware of it.

Here is how you set up an alert. Go to When using multiple words use quotes -“Copley Raff”. If you are using a common term, you can also do – “Sally Smith” Peoria so you have a better chance of getting alerts on your specific target.

How else would you use Google Alerts???

Your takes:

1. Keep abreast of technologies that will help you improve your effectiveness.

2. Information is power, so use Google Alerts for timely information.

3. Make sure you and your organization have a strong and positive profile in the ethers.

For more information about Copley Raff and its spectrum of consulting services, please see Follow CRI on Twitter @copleyraff. For those in healthcare visit