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Surfing for dollars – Web users view ads for charity

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A new Internet company, OnGiving.com, enables Web surfers to raise money for charity by looking at advertisements while they are online, the Associated Press reports.

Computer users download a software application that creates an inch-wide screen called a “GiveBar” on their desktop. The screen shows advertising and displays a running count of how much charitable money the user has raised, AP says.

Each minute users are online, a donation is made to one of 600,000 available charity options. Founder Dennis Bailey explains that if advertising rates are $1 per hour, and 1,000 users spend an hour a day online, charities could reap $1,000 in profits per day, AP reports.

The six-month-old firm takes a 15 percent cut from advertisers and hopes to begin making a profit in 2001, AP says.

Gene Tempel, executive director of the Indiana University Center on Philanthropy, worries that individuals will replace gifts of money and time with this new fundraising method, AP says.

Daniel Borochoff, president of the American Institute of Philanthropy, warns that commercializing donations could also embarrass recipients. For example, health groups could benefit from tobacco company ads, he told AP.

On June 15, about 800 nonprofits will receive their first charitable distribution – surprising many groups that don’t even know they were chosen to receive money, AP reports.

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