When Larry and Sergey laid out their vision for Google.org, they hoped that this "experiment in active philanthropy" would one day have an even greater impact on the world than Google itself. They committed resources from Google's profits, equity and substantial employee time to this philanthropic effort, and they created the mission: "to use the power of information and technology to address the global challenges of our age." They structured Google.org so that in addition to traditional grant making, it can also invest in for-profit companies, advocate for policies and, most important, tap into Google's strengths: its employees, products and technologies. At first I was skeptical about "going corporate," but I came on board convinced that Google could make real progress on these issues. I think we have made an excellent beginning, but it is just a very few steps on a long path.
Now, three years after Google.org was founded, we've been reviewing our progress, and how best to take things forward. It's clear that I am most effective in helping to identify "big ideas" and potential partners, as well as raising awareness about society's biggest challenges. I am therefore very excited to become Google's Chief Philanthropy Evangelist. I think this is the highest contribution that I can make both to Google.org and to fighting the urgent threats of our day: from climate change to emerging infectious diseases, to issues of poverty and health care. By focusing my energy outwards I hope to be able to spend more time motivating policy makers, encouraging public and private partnerships, and generally advocating for the changes that we must make as a global society to solve these problems. Long-time Googler Megan Smith will take over day-to-day management of Google.org, joining as General Manager to lead us through this transition, in addition to her existing role as Vice President of New Business Development.
One of the first things that Megan will focus on is how Google.org can best achieve its mission. During our review it became clear that while we have been able to support some remarkable non-profit organizations over the past three years, our greatest impact has come when we've attacked problems in ways that make the most of Google's strengths in technology and information; examples of this approach include Flu Trends, RechargeIT, Clean Energy 2030, and PowerMeter. By aligning Google.org more closely with Google as a whole, Megan will ensure that we're better able to build innovative, scalable technology and information solutions. As a first step, Google has decided to put even more engineers and technical talent to work on these issues and problems, resources which I have found to be extraordinary. In this global economic crisis, the work Google.org is doing, together with our many colleagues around the world, to help develop cheap clean energy, find and fight disease outbreaks before they sweep the globe, and build information platforms for underserved people globally, is more important than ever. We stand behind the commitment made in 2004 to devote 1% of Google's equity and profits to philanthropy, and we will continue to iterate on our philanthropic model to make sure our resources have the greatest possible impact for good.