Painless giving – Using search engines to donate to good causes
-Image courtesy of rawpixel
Finally managed to make a small donation to help Maui, but it took a while to find an organisation that uses PayPal. The Sierra Club has a list which includes some which do. For more places and ways to help, click here. By the way, if you had planned on going there for a holiday, this will only make recovery efforts more difficult. Hawaiian Airlines and Alaskan Airlines are happy to rebook at a later date or if you must go now, Hawaiians would love you to visit one of the other islands instead, which I am sure are just as lovely.
New ways to donate
While doing that, I came across another easy way to help organisations you care about without having to spend a cent. Since I do a lot of searches and have also been experimenting with Bing Chat, I have just joined Microsoft Rewards which automatically donates to reputable charities of your choice via Give with Bing. Since it started in 2021, Give with Bing has donated $27,136,820 to various causes.
When I asked Microsoft about data security and privacy when using Give with Bing, they said that they collect search terms, IP address and location, the time and date of your search and your browser configuration. According to the website Microsoft is committed to protecting your privacy and will give you choices about how it will use your data.
Your Bing search points will be automatically donated to the cause of your choice and forwarded at the end of the month, though I'm not sure of the conversion rate of points to funds.
Based on various threads on the Microsoft FAQs it looks like you need 1000 points to make a $1, but if you are a gamer or an otherwise heavy user, they would add up very quickly, as would getting together with a few friends or say, other members of an organisation you care about, so that you can pool your efforts. You do need to join Microsoft Rewards to start Giving with Bing. Organisations seeking funds need to be nominated and registered first, but users can change their preference at any time. Find out more here.
We all know data centres are hungry beasts, and given that Ecosia, another search engine I use, generates twice as much renewable energy as it uses, I asked Bing about this too. According to an article in The Verge, Microsoft has been buying renewable energy for its data centres since 2012, but changes in supply mean that it isn’t always 100% renewable. However, Microsoft is hoping to change that by 2030 as part of a broader push by tech companies to have power companies switch to renewables. Some of the tech giants are even setting up their own renewable energy projects.
I still use Ecosia the tree planting search engine mentioned in an earlier post because it's very good for European news and places outside the English - speaking world. According to my dashboard it has planted 2028 trees on my behalf in the two years I've been using it, so you can see how quickly searches add up. Apparently all of Ecosia’s profits now go towards environmental restoration. In 2022, it spent €11.5 million on regenerating landscapes in 14 biodiversity hotspots and planted 41.6 million trees based on those searches. They say that this is the equivalent of removing over 1000 times more CO2 than the company emitted.