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IDEA #52 – Search Revenues Benefit Charities

gCharity is a search engine that apparently donates 90% of search revenue proceeds to a charity. The link was posted by Drew, a Techquila Shots reader, but doesn’t list what charities or how much revenue he’s taken in. If you’re going to benefit non-profits, I think full-disclosure is a must.

Anyhow, I kind of like this idea — and have my own spin. What about people submitting charities, which receive votes and each day there is a charity that receives all the ad search revenue (or 90% say). Or maybe as a user of the service, you simply select what charity will benefit over all-time from your searching. This would spread the word and get tons of charities spreading the word organically for you.

Imagine if there had been a ‘search engine that benefits the victims of Katrina’ — I think everyone and their mother would have used that search engine. (thanks Eric for this observation)

The main problem I foresee is that this idea is basically encouraging people to click on the pay-per-click (PPC) ads, which Google wouldn’t like (nor any of the PPC advertisers). Firefox (Mozilla) I believe made $56 million last year from the search box in their browser from Google, but that is different — they don’t publicly make people aware that they are making Mozilla money for their foundation. Whereas this idea would be publicly making people aware as to how better to increase the charity beneficiaries’ revenues.

Anyone have another idea on how this could work?

You could setup the same thing as gCharity using Google Co-Op Search — anyone know if that does an ad rev-share right upon install?

Also, look at Blingo for another take on rewarded search.

Here’s another idea post related to charities.

  • Bryan Le

    When I see something like this, the first thing that immediately comes to mind is questioning the founder’s integrity.

    Are they REALLY doing this to benefit someone else? Generally the answer is no – the way I see it is if someone REALLY wants to help charity, donate 100% of all proceedings.

    It also helps to look presentable. The way I see it, these are quick to turn out. Though this may sound morbid, just keep a few domains laying around with a site pre-built. Wait for a disaster. Launch immediately. The viral nature of the site will spread itself quickly.

    Then it’s up to you which person you are. Are you one with, or without integrity?

  • Jon Speer

    What if the search engine including a link or button that asked the user to pick charity of choice? The user could also submit one of their own.

  • Eric Nagel

    Steve: As we discussed, since you don’t want to promote clicking on sponsored ads, thereby violating the AdSense terms of service, I think you need to play a numbers game. You have to figure out how much money each unique search (per user) generates in revenue, then perhaps state you’re donating $0.0x per unique search per visitor.

    Unfortunately, AdSense stats are not realtime, so you can’t adjust it quickly enough – you may lose some money, you may make more than you originally intended. But if you know your revenue and your unique searches per visitor, you could figure out what number to use.

    Bryan: donating 90% of revenue is an incredible amount; take a look at the Top 10 Charities Drowning in Administrative Costs, who are giving less than 50% of their revenue towards their cause. Giving 100% would only shut down the service.

  • drew

    Hi everyone, and thanks for the mention Steve.

    I created the gCharity site about 9 months ago. So far we’ve had very little traffic, and correspondingly little revenue — under two dollars during the entire past nine months. Similarly, until today, we’ve had almost zero press coverage. If traffic to the site starts picking up, then we will certainly become radically transparent, as Chris Anderson would say. We would post all financial information, and let users vote for what charity the funds should be donated to.

    We basically picked the 90% minimum figure out of the air. Perhaps we could re-phrase it to say 100% after costs, such as domain registration, hosting, and the like, will be donated.

    We’re definitely open to suggestions, feedback, and participation. I’ll go ahead and create a blog on our site to help jump-start an increased level of communication. The blog should be active within the next ten minutes:


  • Bryan Le

    Eric: I am not saying that 90% isn’t a generous offer. It is. But my main point is that charity should be focused 100%. I don’t think that making money on the side is fair.

    I believe it’s a bit different for a company that offers products or services and donates a % of the income to charity. That is because they are actually spending money and are “selling” something.

    Opening a search engine with a Google search bar – I fail to see any reason why anyone should be able to keep any revenue for that.

    Personally, I feel that it is taking advantage of a situation. Granted, that’s business – and I’m all for it, but I would never do it.

  • drew

    Bryan: I understand your concerns. There are always people out there looking to scam other people, even under the guise of a “charity”. However I can assure that our integrity is intact, and we will be completely transparent in order to help prove it.

    As I mentioned, we are open to the idea of changing the minimum donation amount to 100% of revenue after costs are deducted. We are not doing this to make money for ourselves, but as an experimental way to give something back to the community.

  • Phil

    Very interesting idea Brian, I hope it takes off. We are going a “American Idol for Charities” type thing called “A Better World” at which this post reminded me of (users vote for the charities that will receive $200,000).

  • Stag

    Hey guys there is something similar in the UK which donates via a search engine linked with Yahoo. Supports quite a few of the top charities in the UK but only gives 50% of revenues to a given charity per day.

  • Tommy

    Late in the game and a little off-topic: takes money out of Amazon’s and eBay’s pockets for the charity of your choice.

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