October 15, 2006 5:23 PM   Subscribe

Goodsearch is an Internet search engine with a simple concept and unique social mission. GoodSearch enables you to help fund any of hundreds of thousands of charities or schools through the simple act of searching the Internet.
posted by ZenMasterThis (9 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Typically when I see that "50% of the funds go to operations" on charitable donations, I would expect a great deal of operations to be taking place. As it stands, I suspect that this runs, with the help of some minor debugging and customer support, pretty much by itself.

I guess paint me skeptical. I'm certain those charities are receiving that money, but I'm also certain that someone else is taking home a good deal of money unfairly. I don't have any proof on this, but I've come to expect this sort of behavior on the internet.
posted by thanotopsis at 6:06 PM on October 15, 2006

*sets charity to "Friends of the Earth", searches for "Exxon"*
posted by Jimbob at 6:16 PM on October 15, 2006

"Our goal is to direct 50 percent of revenues"...

I agree with thanotopsis, this percentage sucks. The local United Way takes a cut of about 15% for designated donations, and, as the director of a non-profit agency, I find that number excessive. 50%? Nope, this doesn't sit well with me.
posted by HuronBob at 6:33 PM on October 15, 2006

50% of revenue or 50% of profit?

If it's 50% of revenues, then they probably don't have a viable business model. If it's 50% of profits, then it's not very impressive.

I also note "Our goal is to..." -- not "We do...". Wonderful goal, but when do you actually start doing it?
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 6:39 PM on October 15, 2006

This is from an NYtimes article from almost a year ago:

To verify the company's claims about its donations, Ken Ramberg, GoodSearch's chief executive, said the company would submit its books to an auditor and post the results on the site.

Neither Mr. Ramberg nor Yahoo would disclose the terms of their deal, and Google also declined comment on its foray into this market. Mr. Ramberg declined to say how much GoodSearch had given away so far.

"The beauty of this is obvious," he said. "This money is being raised by people who are doing something they do every day: search the Internet."

Mr. Ramberg, who started a job search company for college students in the late 1980's and sold it to in 2000, also declined to say how many people had used the site since its introduction last month.

Emphasis is mine.
posted by vacapinta at 7:25 PM on October 15, 2006

Why would anyone need an intermediary to give to charity? Obviously, some funds will be diverted to the support/profit of the intermediary.
posted by Cranberry at 9:52 PM on October 15, 2006

I don't think this is exactly bad. It's diverting funds that would normally go to SEOs and such. The cost to the consumer is pretty low.

But it does fall somewhat into the problem area occupied by the for-profit companies that organize bike rides and other events for charity, which typically take a huge chunk of the money raised for all the frills including promotional materials.

On the other hand, many non-profits hold charity balls and dinners, which have their own fixed costs.

There are many reasons to criticize a number of money-raising schemes, such as parents who collect Campbell's soup labels to buy a few kickballs for their kids' school, or the kids who collect the soda can tabs to raise money for Ronald McDonald Houses. Or the people who buy a certain yogurt because a portion of the revenue will be given to breast cancer research.

In the absence of a 501(c)3 NPO running a search engine which gives all revenue above what it needs for operations directly to charity, this could work for some people. Lazy person's way to raise money for their favorite cause.

In the case of local causes, though, it would take a LOT of clicking to get anything worth the effort. So the main beneficiaries are going to be the big national charities like the American Red Cross, which is already swimming in money it doesn't need for various purposes.
posted by dhartung at 10:31 PM on October 15, 2006

Our kids' school just implemented a program called Pace, where purchases on your Visa card at select businesses result in said business pitching in 5% or 10% of the price toward your school. That seems a hell of a lot more newsworthy than this. If anything can kill the horrid spectacle of schools ordering our kids to tell cookie tins and other useless crap to fund the class field trip every year, surely pace is it.
posted by zeroboss at 12:21 AM on October 16, 2006

This business model is quite similar to that of Ethos Water, Patagonia, and Ben & Jerry’s where a percentage of sales is donated to charity. I’m a big fan of companies adding a socially responsible element to their endeavors. Two important differences with GoodSearch are: 1) users get to select their cause, and 2) because the money comes from the search engine’s advertisers, users do not have to spend a dime for their charity to receive a donation. I’m sold.

The business model here is quite different. The companies you mentioned make their money honestly, not by suckering people into a scheme to donate to charities. Sure, the charities in question are making money, but my hesitation is with the bozo who's raking in 50% of those advertising dollars for "overhead", when people like the United Way (an organization which obviously has more real overhead) only retain 15% for their costs.

Sure, folks are receiving donations, but I'd rather the advertisers in question gave their money directly to these organizations rather than giving half of it to some scam artist.
posted by thanotopsis at 9:14 AM on October 17, 2006

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