Innovation That Matters

Google alternative helps rainforest regeneration through ad clicks

Nonprofit & Social Cause

Germany-based search engine Ecosia enables users to generate income for rainforest programs by directing ad revenue to charities.

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Vast amounts of time are spent browsing and searching the internet every day, and we’ve already seen initiatives such as Ark help turn that activity into funding for charities and social causes. Hoping to win a slice of the search engine market, Germany-based Ecosia is now offering an alternative to Google and Bing, enabling users to generate income for rainforest programs by directing ad revenue to nonprofits.

Given current news about the US government’s NSA using Google data to collect information on citizens both at home and abroad, it seems perhaps a good time to take advantage of consumers wanting to switch. Ecosia works in much the same way as its major competitors, but rather than keep any income from advertising and sponsored links, the site donates around 80 percent to charities involved in the replanting of trees in Brazilian rainforests, such as the Nature Conservancy. The site currently has nearly 2.5 million active users per month, has helped plant more than 150,000 trees — equivalent to one every 60 seconds. The search engine also offers eco data for company and organization searches, giving each business a green rating out of five, and regularly publishes its donation receipts.

According to the site, its userbase grew by 40 percent since a relaunch in August, and considering Google has policies which disallow this kind of charitable redirecting of advertising funds, Ecosia could stake a veritable claim in the alternative search engine market. Are there other ways to challenge the stronghold of giants like Google and Microsoft?



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