Josh Bourne ⬥ 11 December
Many of us in the U.S. are familiar with Toys for Tots, the charitable program that collects new toys every holiday season to distribute to children whose parents cannot afford to buy them gifts. Run by the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve (USMCR) since 1947, Toys for Tots is one of the most popular and recognizable charities, especially during the holidays, not to mention one of the most heart-warming.
The domain name that Toys for Tots uses to host its Web site is toysfortots.org. Last year, the site saw a significant spike in traffic during the holiday season, reaching a total of about 1 million unique visitors in December. However, the site toysfortots.com also received a significant amount of traffic volume during that period. About 5% of people are entering toysfortots.com instead of toysfortots.org. Both sites are owned by the Marine Toys for Tots Foundation, but the latter, toysfortots.com, does not redirect to toysfortots.org. In fact, the .COM domain does not resolve at all.
In a year, I estimate that well over 100,000 Internet users go to toysfortots.com in an effort to reach the charity’s Web site. The domain name toys4tots.com (which unfortunately is currently owned by a third party and hosts pay-per-click ads) also receives substantial annual traffic, more than toys4tots.org. These figures reflect the fact that Internet users type .COM at the end of domain names more intuitively than other extensions, including .ORG. The popularity of the Toys for Tots program, in addition to the high traffic volume toysfortots.org receives, makes it clear that the USMCR has a significant communicative power and ample ability to reach Internet users. If this power were matched with the best practices that leading private sector marketers use, the USMRC could substantially increase the effectiveness of their programs.
Toys for Tots is a wonderful program that helps to make the holidays special for so many children. With a bit of marketing strategy, the charity could expand to reach more donors and, in turn, provide gifts to even more children around the country.