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The power of the 404 page to help missing children

Howard Lake | 27 September 2012 | Blogs

I am truly pleased to share this news, because I’ve found an organisation putting one of my better ideas into practice.

Thirteen years ago it struck me that the 404 error page on all websites were woefully underused. Apart from helping the lost soul find the right page, they could also do so much more.

In particular it struck me that they could include donated space for a charity campaign. And what more appropriate campaign than one for missing children.


How to move from Fundraiser to CEO - by Bruce Tait. Upwards white arrow on blue background.

I took the idea to an international children’s charity, but it wasn’t taken up. Yet, the 404 page has to be the most popular web page on the planet!

Ever since, in my training courses and elsewhere, I’ve hinted that charities should really think about their 404 page.

404 NotFound – when media space becomes really useful

And now my idea has occurred to someone else. I’m delighted to see Missing Children Europe (MCE) in cooperation with Child Focus have this week launched the NotFound project.

This encourages all website owners to convert their 404 error messages into missing children messages.

They have already got some major companies supporting the intiative, and it was only launched two days ago.

Francis Herbert, Secretary-General of MCE : “The idea of ‌‌integrating missing person messages into 404 pages immediately seemed very interesting to us. We are always looking for new communication channels to distribute missing children messages and increase the chances to bring them home.”

“Page not found, neither is this child”. You can see the potential of this idea.

And just in case you doubt my claim, some years ago I registered as the potential home for this idea.

So good luck!