Monday, March 05, 2007

Adsense for Charity (English version of Frankwatching article)

Frank Janssen of gave me the opportunity to pitch my idea for Google Adsense for Charity at his site. I hope his readers will help me generate more attention for this idea and come up with ideas to get this idea higher up Google’s to-do-list. As said in previous posts, the origins of this idea lie in me looking at the enormous amount of $8 on my Adsense account and wondering if there was something better to do with it, instead of waiting 8 years for the first check. I have also found out that the idea is not unique. Two weeks before I blogged about it, Michael Yarmolinsky of alsoasked Google for this possibility. Google’s first reaction to me has been that they will have a look at it.

The idea
It would be great if it would be possible to select in Google Adsense that (part of) the revenue will be sent to charity. This way it will become easy to contribute to open source projects or other good causes. This will increase the income of those charities. It will also become possible for accounts that generate little revenue to send the money that is there to a charity. (And yeah, Microsoft and Yahoo can also implement this idea, but unfortunately for them most of the money is at Google at this moment)

Possible ways to implement the idea.
Account-owners can specify that all the revenues of their Adsense-account will be sent to one (or more) charities. At the end of each month the revenues of the account will be transferred to the charity, regardless of whether they have reached the limit of $100.
-Account-owners can specify that x% of their revenue will be sent to charity. At the end of each month this percentage will be sent to charity.
-Account-owners can sent a fixed amount per month to a charity, if this amount is generated by the account. The remainder is sent to the account-owner (if it’s over $100)

What charities?
I personally don’t care. They may be American, medical, Unicef, Open Source, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, just as long as they do good. But Google probably will opt for a practical solution.

Advantages for the account-owner
The advantages for account-owners are in ease and simplicity. If an account-owner would have to do everything himself, he/she would first have to cash the check and then transfer the money (internationally). That’s a lot of work for small amounts of money. It also gives the account-owner a good feeling, that the money that used to be locked in into a small revenue generating account is put to good use.

Advantages for Google
Google will be able to improve on it’s “don’t be evil”-image. It will help charities (maybe open source projects. Google will profit from this in good PR and maybe better open source software. It will also keep away discussions about small amounts of Adsense income that are locked into an account. Another advantage is that it will make Adsense more attractive for a larger group of websites, which in turn will improve the reach of Adense and it’s attractiveness to advertisers. Keeping score of payments to charities online will only help here. There might be a small issue with Google loosing some interest on the money, but this is probably small compared to the goodwill. There are hardly any costs for executing this idea. Google will only have to screen charities.

How much money are we talking about?
Google had $10 billion in revenue this year. Almost all revenue is generated by advertisements. Google pays out about 40%. That is $4 billion. I assume that this idea is a long tail idea and it’s aimed at the end of the tail. The end of the tail is the last 0.5% of the revenue or $20 million a year. 99.5% gets paid to people that have an Adsense-account. But even if it was only 0.1% or less, it’s still an interesting amount of money.

Google has replied to my suggestion, that they will look into it. This is great, but I would prefer hearing that they will implement it. The sooner, the more money there is for charity.

What can readers do?
Spread the word! Blog about it! Send it on to a Google manager you know! And help me find better ways to get attention to this idea. All your comments and ideas are welcome.


PowerYogi said...


i just came across your post. I am currently participating in the Global Social Venture competition organized by UC Berkeley with a similar proposal. Our plan made the second round, and I found your post while doing research to write a full business plan. I definitely think it has a lot of potential.

I have talked with 3 different Google managers about this idea over the last year and a half. All of them said they loved the idea, but I never heard back from anyone.

I blogged about it way back when, march 2005 actually! - much similar to your post:

cheerio. oh, and this is not spam. Will update you via your comments if we make any further progress in the b-plan competition, if you'd be interested.

Ian Herrick said...

maybe this is stating the obvious..... but why not approach the charities direct to see if they have an adsense account... or if they could set one up... then it would simply be a case of entering thir id on the adsense or entering their details into the 'revenue sharing' plugin etc etc