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Google gets charitable

Janet Babin Sep 14, 2006

TEXT OF STORY

BRIAN WATT: What sets Google’s charity apart from that of other corporate giants? Like the rest of the company, Google.org could actually make money. Google’s hired Dr. Larry Brilliant — yes, his actual name — to define the organization’s mission, and preside over its unique for-profit balance sheet. From the Innovations Desk at North Carolina Public Radio, Janet Babin has more.


JANET BABIN: The New York Times reports today that Google’s philanthropy arm will start with $1 billion in seed money and it won’t be constrained by some of the rules that govern most charitable organizations, because Google.org will maintain its for-profit status.

Chris Low is an economist at FTN Financial. He says running a charity for profit can provide incentives to shareholders, and can lure top talent to a company. But it also has its downside.

CHRIS LOW:“Money taints people’s sense of what’s right I guess, and there’s always that worry I think when you look at a charity, that it ought to be run for the greater good, and not for personal gain.”

According to its Web site, Google.org will focus on global poverty, health, energy and the environment. It’s already handed out $7 million in grants and investments in philanthropic projects.

In New York, I’m Janet Babin for Marketplace.

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