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Short on funds? Buying via these Web sites boosts local charities

POSTED: December 22, 2008 5:00 a.m.

It has been described as giving without giving and for some charities already has generated thousands of dollars.

Two Web sites, www.goodsearch.com and www.goodshop.com, allow Internet users to make donations to charity without really spending a dime.

The sites are the brainchild of Ken and JJ Ramberg, a California brother and sister who had experience in both the Internet and philanthropy.

Using goodsearch.com as your search engine can generate a penny for your selected charity every time you ask for information on an orthodontist in Oakwood or a hotel in Hiawassee.

The newer site, www.goodshop.com, provides a click-through link to major shopping sites, including amazon.com, eBay and hotels.com. If you make a purchase, a portion of the sale, from a fraction of a percent to as much a 25 percent or more, goes to the charity.

"We wanted to find a way for people to support their favorite causes even if they didn’t have extra time or money," JJ Ramberg said in a telephone interview with The Times. "In our own experience, we came across so many nonprofits that really needed help with funding and awareness. When we saw how much money search engines were making, we thought about finding a way to redirect some of that money to good causes."

Presently there are more than 70,000 nonprofit organizations available for selection, ranging from animal rights groups to churches.

A number of a Hall County groups are listed as charities on the site, including Good News Clinics and United Way of Hall County.

A lack of awareness of the program has resulted in few donations for the local entities.

"There are so many nonprofits who need and rely on things like these sites," said Tracy Whitmire of United Way of Hall County. "We would rather promote that for the agencies we serve."

Search engines make most of their money from companies that pay an advertising fee when users click on links during a search. The Internet commerce sites traditionally pay a percentage of sales from sites generated by search engines.

Ramberg said 50 percent of the fee generated, usually a penny, is donated to the selected charity.

New nonprofit agencies must be vetted by the company and then can be listed along with the 70,000 others.



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