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Donating a portion of ad revenue to charity

Like Everyclick users here in the UK Hotmail customers worldwide can now elect to join the i’m initiative and have part of the ad revenue generated by their usage of the service is given to charity (see Techcrunch).

In the case of Hotmail users who opt in get an i’m specific ad at the end of their emails and then choose which of the ten supported charities they want to support. Microsoft then makes a small donation for each message sent. The i’m Initiative works in a similar way across a bunch of other Microsoft services and in total $1.4m has been donated since the service went live in March 2007.

In the case of Everyclick the idea is that you use them to search instead of Google (results powered by Ask) and they donate half of the paid search revenue to the charity of your choice – and they have just about all the UK charities on their list. So far £434k has been raised for charity through Everyclick.

Clearly this is good news for charities and good news for the world as a whole. Furthermore as integrity and genuineness become more important these initiatives could become big business.

I genuinely welcome these developments, but do so with a little nervousness, because money given to charity means lower margins and hence less profit in the industry as a whole.