Google.Org, the for-Profit Charity

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Google.org brings a new approach to corporate philanthropy, one that provides freedom and flexibility while also introducing new issues to work out. As a “for-profit charity”, Google.org has an opportunity to create a charitable organization that is self-reliant and not constantly scrambling to raise funds through donations. The biggest problem with this strategy is that they face the same set of rules and objectives as a regular business would face; mainly, taxation and the desire for profitability. Google’s motto “don’t be evil” may suggest that this company really is about charity and not profit, but with shareholders involved it will be difficult to ignore the possibility of this being a “business-first” organization. Dr. Brilliant faces a difficult challenge in making Google.org truly about the “charity” aspect in spite of the for-profit status of the company.

The main cause of this issue is the potential conflict of interest that arises between the goals of the company and the satisfaction of the shareholders. Google.org is a philanthropy project, but it is also for-profit. The goals of Google.org as outlined in your mission statement conflict with one of the fundamental goals of a business – and that is to make profits. This may result in a compromise of Google.org’s core values if a scenario arises where they would have to choose the “lesser of two evils”, as was the case of Google’s expansion into China. It is clear that shareholders favoured the decision due to China’s large population, which provided more users (and thus, more money) for Google. If this is the case, then shareholders of Google.org may apply pressure, which will force the company to make more compromises. Some of the projects taken on by Google.org will be attractive to shareholders, such as the research and development of more efficient batteries for plug-in hybrid vehicles. Most shareholders would be content with this decision because plug-in hybrids are generally accepted as the...
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