Wednesday, February 21, 2007


Ash Wednesday begins the penitential season of Lent; it's a season of wrestling with oneself in order to improve one's moral and spiritual discipline. It has three parts: prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. One of the things I want to do around here for Lent is point out ways people can support various charities, whether by almsgiving or by participating in some sort of simple fundraising activity. (Let me know in the comments if you have any particular recommendations.)

Today the fundraising activity is GoodSearch. Search engine advertisements generate revenue; GoodSearch is basically a Yahoo! search engine with a twist: about fifty percent of the revenue generated by your search is directed toward the charity you select.

An example. Suppose I want to generate revenue for St. Jude Children's Research Hospital in Memphis. I go to the GoodSearch website, verify whether St. Jude is signed up to receive revenue from searches; it is. I select it, and then just use the search engine in the ordinary way. Part of the advertising revenue for the search is then directed to the St. Jude account. The amount is small, approximately a penny a search; but the point is that steady use by a large number of supporters will accumulate. (You can check how much a given charity has raised via searches; for instance, this year searches on GoodSearch have raised about $506 for St. Jude.) Plus, the amount of effort and inconvenience that you go through in order to raise money in this way is negligible; once you find a charity in the GoodSearch database that you like, you just use GoodSearch for your searches.

The primary drawbrack of the search engine is that there's no list of the 30000 charitable organizations participating, so you have to search individually. A small sample of interesting examples I've found of participating organizations that you might look into: Catholic Charities USA, Hebron House of Hospitality, The Hospitality House of Tulsa, Jewish Fund for Justice, The Holy Cross Institute at St. Edward's University, Sisters of the Holy Cross, Covenant House, Animal Welfare Institute. Of course, there are many more. Find one you like and stick with it for a while.

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