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Google Extends Its Reach Into World of Charitable Giving

Google.org, the philanthropic division of Internet giant Google, Inc., announced plans Thursday to distribute $26 million in grants to support initiatives in a variety of fields, ranging from disaster prevention to renewable energy. Larry Brilliant, head of DotOrg, discusses the company's efforts to expand its charitable giving.

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  • JIM LEHRER:

    Finally tonight, Google's efforts to become a big player in the world of philanthropy. Ray Suarez has that story.

  • RAY SUAREZ:

    With the unofficial corporate slogan "Don't Be Evil" and a high-flying stock value, search engine giant Google is using its vast wealth to tackle some of the world's biggest challenges: global warming, disease, and poverty.

    Just as Google says it strives to be a different kind of company, so, too, is the company's charitable arm, Google.org, trying to be a different kind of charity.

    The company has said it will dedicate 1 percent of its profits annually to its philanthropy, after getting it started with three million Google shares. At the moment, that's worth nearly $2 billion.

    Here to tell us more is Google.org's executive director, Larry Brilliant, a physician and epidemiologist who worked on the successful campaign to eradicate smallpox. He's also a co-founder of the online community The Well.

    And, Dr. Larry Brilliant, how is Google.org different from a conventional charity?

  • LARRY BRILLIANT, Google.org:

    Ray, thank you very much for inviting me on the program.

    Google.org was started by Larry and Sergei, the founders of Google, at the time of the public offering with an idea that Google's goal was to try to make the world better by organizing all of the world's information.

    But Google.org would have a chance to work on intractable problems of poverty, climate change, global health. And they created a unique or a different structure.

    Instead of being a foundation using tax-advantaged funds that had already had a tax advantage, they created an organization that lets us make investments in companies, perhaps start industries, do public advocacy, a lot of things that are more difficult for a regular foundation. It's a hybrid philanthropy.

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