At a time when software mogul Bill Gates and wife Melinda Gates are declared ‘Persons of the Year’ by ‘Time’ magazine for their philanthropic work along with Irish rocker Bono, the soft corner of another new media giant, Google, is coming to the fore, slowly but steadily.
Not to be left behind, Google has established Google Foundation to “focus on several areas like global poverty, energy and the environment.” In a letter accompanying Google’s April, 2004, IPO filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, the founders said that the company would donate 1 per cent of its profit and stock to innovative philanthropic efforts aimed at solving global problems. And thus, Google.org came into being, which includes the work of the Google Foundation.
Google is setting aside three million shares, worth more than $900 million, to fund Google.org. It is separately putting about $90 million into Google Foundation.
Google’s founders are very optimistic about its Samaritan role. “We hope that some day this institution will eclipse Google itself in overall world impact by ambitiously applying innovation and significant resources to the largest of the world’s problems,” said Sergey Brin and Larry Page.
Among the many projects helped by Google, one interesting project is in India, called Planet Read. Planet Read is a non-profit organisation seeking to improve literacy in India and world over. The NGO, established by Dr Brij Kothari, an associate professor of IIM-Ahmedabad, is working towards literacy improvement through its unique method called Same Language Subtitling (SLS). Through adding subtitles to Bollywood films and videos of popular folk songs, the project aims to provide an easy way of regular practice to semi-educated masses.
The unorthodox of way of spreading literacy has brought many international awards to Dr Kothari and Google’s funds too. Google is also supporting Planet Read with free advertising through ‘Google Grant’ programme and content hosting on Google Video. Google Grants is a unique in-kind advertising programme. It harnesses the power of flagship advertising product, Google AdWords, to non-profit organisations seeking to inform and engage their constituents online.
Google Grants has awarded AdWords advertising to hundreds of non-profit groups whose missions range from animal welfare to literacy, from supporting homeless children to promoting HIV education. Google Grant helps recipients use their award of free AdWords to advertise on Google.com to raise awareness and increase traffic.
While many of Google’s recent initatives like Google Earth and Google Print have invited scathing criticism from many quarters and are leveled as part of its evil motives, Google seems to be wishing to showcase its philanthropic side to the world to avoid any PR disaster. And don’t forget its official tagline: ‘Don’t be evil’.