Google is known for many things, with an interesting dynamic constantly playing out between those who believe the “don’t be evil” motto is hypocritical at best and the groups who praise the ground Google walks on. For those of us who prefer to take a middle-ground, however, there are still plenty of elements that are praiseworthy. One of these is Google’s dedication to philanthropy. Recently, a Google representative by the name of Megan Smith, the General Manager of Google’s charitable division (Google.org) gave an interview where she discussed Google’s perspective on charity.
Smith begins by discussing her optimism on what technology can do to help in philanthropic efforts, largely to the the fact that collaborators are no further than “a text away.” Smith states that the technological end is part of what Google can contribute, but that they also want to contribute their “knowledge and skills to help use technology to address humanity’s greatest challenges.”
As for what that means, the qualifications certainly seem to vary. However, projects like the Google Earth Engine appropriately demonstrate how technology, creative engineering, and noble causes can be combined. To Smith, however, it doesn’t matter what the exact nature of the project is. Instead, “the key is to take advantage of Google’s strengths.” Additionally, Google has “charitable giving programs supporting, for example, education (especially K-12 science and math programs, university research, communities where we work, and technology solutions for under served groups.”
Google isn’t a company that simply talks. Last year, their charitable projects reached over 140 million (and a substantial chunk more if you include Google Grants), and they just recently pledged $5 million to help upgrade and enhance schools in India. Other projects are coming in all the time, and the Google.org newsletter works as an excellent resource for those who want to stay up to date.