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  • Google Finds It Hard To Reinvent Philanthropy

    It declared that DotOrg would not be “conventional” — a four-letter word in Google-speak.

    JUST before Google first sold its shares to the public in 2004, Larry Page, one of its founders, excited the nonprofit world with a bold commitment to philanthropy.

    He vowed to dedicate about 1 percent of Google’s profits, 1 percent of its equity and a significant amount of its employees’ time to the effort, which became known as Google.org, or simply DotOrg. “We hope someday this institution may eclipse Google itself in terms of overall world impact by ambitiously applying innovation and significant resources to the largest of the world’s problems,” Mr. Page wrote in a letter to potential investors.

    Although Google intended to tackle major problems like climate change, global poverty and the spread of pandemic diseases, it declared that DotOrg would not be “conventional” — a four-letter word in Google-speak. For starters, the organization would operate in part as a business, thus freeing itself from various constraints placed on nonprofit groups.

    Google hired Larry Brilliant, a public health expert and Silicon Valley entrepreneur with no experience running a major philanthropy, to lead DotOrg, which was set up as a business unit within the company. It then poached prominent experts in development, energy and public health from prestigious institutions like the Aga Khan Foundation, Goldman Sachs and the International Water Management Institute.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2011/01/30/business/30charity.html?hpw

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