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surfing for charity
December 16, 2010 4:50 AM   Subscribe

Chrome for a Cause. From now until December 19th, every tab you open on Chrome with this extension installed will help raise funds for five different charities (The Nature Conservancy, Charity: Water, Doctors Without Borders, Un Techo para mi Pais and Room To Read).
posted by fight or flight (35 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite

 
From the Chrome blog post about Chrome for a Cause:
Everyone’s total tabs will determine a charitable donation made on behalf of the Chrome community, up to one million dollars. Here's what your tabs can do:

10 tabs = 1 tree planted
10 tabs = 1 book published and donated
25 tabs = 1 vaccination treatment provided
100 tabs = 1 square foot of shelter built
200 tabs = 1 person's clean water for a year
posted by fight or flight at 4:52 AM on December 16, 2010


Marketing as charity is still mainly marketing.

If the charity was more important than the marketing, they could just as easily make add-ons for Firefox, IE, Safari and Opera. Or, you know, skip the marketing entirely and just give a big wad of money to those charities. Giving money while calling attention to yourself as someone who gives money is, at the very least, unseemly and at worst betrays the fact that you have no idea what charity is.
posted by oddman at 4:59 AM on December 16, 2010 [10 favorites]


I don't quite agree with oddman. Giving while drawing attention is fine in my mind. It's why people collect yogurt lids to cure cancer and while people bid in charity auctions.

What I don't like about it is that is does nothing. It adds no functionality that I can see. The cynical part of me assumes it must track something, but I'm not interested enough to find out.

I don't get the point. Maybe if I could select my own charity it wold be more interesting to me.
posted by cjorgensen at 5:07 AM on December 16, 2010


I'm already at 20...
posted by schyler523 at 5:09 AM on December 16, 2010 [1 favorite]


Here's a functionality for you: it tells you how many tabs you open in a day. I had no idea. First day, I'm at 245 tabs, and still 10 hours to go. Scary.
posted by Baldons at 5:14 AM on December 16, 2010 [3 favorites]


My take: This is what you make of it.

I see that I am a rich useless fool. Tabbing and browsing. A soft hand clicking a mouse. Too bored to read about the blind and hungry poor.

The point isn't the pennies that Chrome for a Cause will roll out to Africa - the point is the context and seeing it. The point is my fully deserved shame, and what I will do to rise out of it.
posted by krilli at 5:17 AM on December 16, 2010 [4 favorites]


stuff like this leaves me cold. a way for people to feel like they are being charitable without actually having to do anything.
posted by quonsar II: smock fishpants and the temple of foon at 5:19 AM on December 16, 2010 [3 favorites]


And the cold wind howled in the chasm between Kantians and utilitarians.
posted by Beardman at 5:35 AM on December 16, 2010 [14 favorites]


Eh... It's a nice little thing, good on them.

Sometimes I find Metafilters relentless determination to be aggrieved about everything extremly tiring.
posted by Artw at 5:39 AM on December 16, 2010 [18 favorites]


stuff like this leaves me cold. a way for people to feel like they are being charitable without actually having to do anything.
It's called slacktivism.
posted by l2p at 5:41 AM on December 16, 2010 [4 favorites]


oh damn, i'm a web developer who uses chrome. these next 3 days are gonna be like when you go crazy with the tree tool in simcity. entire cities will be built with my tab usage.
posted by Mach5 at 5:52 AM on December 16, 2010 [3 favorites]


I have about 30-40 tabs open at any given time in chrome, so sure, why not.
posted by empath at 5:55 AM on December 16, 2010


Seems easy to do, so yes, why not? Slacktivism goes well with with activism. The whipped cream on the hot chocolate.
posted by josher71 at 6:01 AM on December 16, 2010


up to one million dollars.

Ohhh. One MILLION dollars. What philanthropists.

Google had revenues of 23,6 BILLION dollars in 2009 and earned almost 8 BILLION in profit.

A crummy one million dollars is 0,0125% of profits to charity. It would be better if they didn't do anything at all rather than do this and think they are making any serious effort.
posted by three blind mice at 6:20 AM on December 16, 2010


It would be better if they didn't do anything at all rather than do this and think they are making any serious effort

No, then they would have one million dollars less. Regardless of their total income, that is still money that can help people.
posted by cavalier at 6:23 AM on December 16, 2010 [4 favorites]


Googling around for "google philanthropy" leads to some interesting places! For example, according to this 2008 article, Google gives about twice as much as the average for large companies, but maybe less than Microsoft, Intel, HP, or Cisco.

Once you dig into it, though, it's impossible to tell what's really going on, because lots of those companies are donating equipment, which they wouldn't necessarily have sold anyway, and which will benefit them because they'll create dependency on their products. Meanwhile, Google is mostly "donating" through google.org, which sounds more like a for-profit angel investment company that might one day make a zillion dollars on, say, the next SARS vaccine or a cheaper solar panel. Is that more "evil" than just giving the money to an aid group? Or is financing under-financed research more likely to save the world in the long run?

In conclusion, corporate philanthropy: complicated topic. But if Google wants to spend a million dollars advertising Chrome by paying me to use it and giving the money to great charities -- instead of buying a 30 second Superbowl ad -- they're welcome to a high five from me.
posted by jhc at 6:24 AM on December 16, 2010 [3 favorites]


I have around 10 already lol
posted by mel001 at 6:24 AM on December 16, 2010


It would be better if they didn't do anything at all rather than do this and think they are making any serious effort.

How is nothing better than something?
posted by josher71 at 6:25 AM on December 16, 2010


My ADD finally pays off.
posted by mecran01 at 6:29 AM on December 16, 2010 [3 favorites]


A crummy one million dollars is 0,0125% of profits to charity. It would be better if they didn't do anything at all rather than do this and think they are making any serious effort.

They said in 2009, "We stand behind the commitment made in 2004 to devote 1% of Google’s equity and profits to philanthropy." That doesn't count employee time, either. It's not clear exactly how they'll spend that money (or even if they'll ever make good on the pledge), but this Chrome promotion isn't their sole philanthropic effort this year.
posted by jhc at 6:32 AM on December 16, 2010 [1 favorite]


It should be noted you have a daily maximum of 250 tabs.
posted by shakespeherian at 6:35 AM on December 16, 2010


How is nothing better than something?

When the little "something" you do it keeps you from actually doing something worthwhile.

This is a marketing effort, not an exercise in corporate philanthropy. I wonder how this plays out tax wise for Google? Is there anything to be gained by taking marketing expenses as charitable contributions? Google seems entirely motivated to avoid paying taxes: Google 2.4% Rate Shows How $60 Billion Lost to Tax Loopholes

Yeah, real, nice charitable people over there.
posted by three blind mice at 6:42 AM on December 16, 2010


Last night I opened 250 tabs with this extension installed and in doing so got a certain amount of money dedicated to charity. Last night I wasn't doing anything but reading Metafilter and playing flash games. That's what I would have done last night anyway, but because of this extension I did a bit more. I have no illusions about whether this is marketing or not, but I don't understand the perspective that that removes all value from the enterprise.
posted by shakespeherian at 6:50 AM on December 16, 2010 [2 favorites]


Ohhh. One MILLION dollars. What philanthropists.

Actually, Google is pretty philanthropic. This isn't the only money they are giving, they do tons of direct granting to organizations, and a whole lot more in in-kind technology assistance and development. They have an internal commitment to give 1% of the companies revenues to charities. The Google Foundation gave away almost $7 million in 2007, and that doesn't include corporate money that they give for natural disasters like the ones in Burma, China, Haiti and Pakistan over the last few years (they routines drop six figures on multiple humanitarian orgs during these emergency events). The company also matches employee charitable giving, and they run a lot of internal programs to inspire philanthropic giving among their employees.

They recently ran a program to encourage cost savings when making travel arrangements. Those savings could then be converted by employees into future travel upgrades, or could they could choose to donate them to charity. This program alone generated around $1 million for charities in 2010.
posted by kimdog at 6:50 AM on December 16, 2010 [3 favorites]


Ugh, I can forgive this thing for being gimmicky and markety, but NOT for having badge notifications that I can't dismiss or hide!

Oh, I have gmail waitnogoddammit
posted by Mr. Anthropomorphism at 7:08 AM on December 16, 2010 [1 favorite]


Wow, there sure is a lot of grarring and gnashing of teeth here. Hey, some people / companies give tons of money to charity without any marketing and strings attached. Others give less money or combine it with some gimmick. And you know what? Either way is great, because they could be giving $0, and would probably get given less shit for it.
posted by ghharr at 7:11 AM on December 16, 2010


Google does more than just this. Change their .com to a .org and see.

For everyone that will or has complained about how much money Google makes versus how much they're giving because of this extention, how much money do you make? And how much have you donated?

Look, I really hate the big mega-corporations and the shady shit they can do as much or more as the next guy, but when they start doing the right thing, don't shout them down for doing it.
posted by Threeway Handshake at 7:22 AM on December 16, 2010 [3 favorites]


When the little "something" you do it keeps you from actually doing something worthwhile.

I didn't know tabbed browsing had such a detrimental effect on society.
posted by dirigibleman at 7:32 AM on December 16, 2010 [4 favorites]


I came to this thread thinking that I would find people somehow finding a way to shit on a charitable program. Turns out I wasn't too far off.
posted by Evernix at 7:32 AM on December 16, 2010


Ohhh. One MILLION dollars. What philanthropists.

Google had revenues of 23,6 BILLION dollars in 2009 and earned almost 8 BILLION in profit.

A crummy one million dollars is 0,0125% of profits to charity. It would be better if they didn't do anything at all rather than do this and think they are making any serious effort.


I'm sorry, but I'll have to disagree with this. Any action at all, especially one coming from a company as large as Google, has to be worth something.

Look at it this way: they may only be giving $1 million, but that's $1 million more than other companies which don't give anything. In any case, they're raising awareness, which arguably is more valuable than the sum of money they're giving.

They could have simply chosen not to give anything; certainly they're not obliged to. But by doing this, they have a positive impact on the world, no matter how small you think it is.
posted by titantoppler at 8:13 AM on December 16, 2010


My experience has been that charitable contributions are usually less valuable tax wise then straight out marketing expenses to a company, so there's no advantage to Google there.

For all the grumpy grumps, you have to look at how charitable marketing programs begin. The Chrome marketing folks had a budget of about $1 million to market Chrome this quarter (or whatever). That money was not part of the "philanthropy" budget or anything else, it's the marketing budget. Normally that money would be spent on media, useless swag, fancy marketing agencies, etc. Instead, someone figured out they could get the same media coverage and give the $1 million to charity, everybody wins. Would you rather that they spent that money on foam stress balls to give out at some conference?

I've worked on charity marketing programs for large corporations. They are usually much more work (the amount of paperwork required by each state is massive) and way more expensive than standard marketing. In almost every case, the company (and more importantly their employees) really wanted to do some good with their otherwise useless marketing budgets.
posted by dripdripdrop at 8:13 AM on December 16, 2010 [5 favorites]


A crummy one million dollars is 0,0125% of profits to charity. It would be better if they didn't do anything at all rather than do this and think they are making any serious effort.

I think this perfectly encapsulates how petty and isolated the critique-culture here at MetaFilter can be. Oh, how dare that corporation feel good about donating a million dollars! Better nothing be done at all to help others!
posted by thewittyname at 9:09 AM on December 16, 2010 [1 favorite]


Sometimes I find Metafilters relentless determination to be aggrieved about everything extremly tiring.

I wasn't aggrieved, just confused. I'm not a Chrome user and not a tab browser. For me to participate it would require I change browsers and the way I function.

I also missed the fact that this was a google product. I thought it was a third party extension. Now it makes much more sense to me. It really is like a yogurt lid. "Use our browser, we donate money."
posted by cjorgensen at 10:33 AM on December 16, 2010


Around 3:30 AM I noticed my tab count had stopped increasing.

"Maximum number of tabs for today"? You've got to be kidding me.
posted by KChasm at 3:21 PM on December 16, 2010


That said, I do like Google doing charity. I'm just bummed about the max tab thing.
posted by KChasm at 3:21 PM on December 16, 2010


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