Weaving Web of Donations

Weaving Web of Donations

After selling his Santa Monica career website JobTrack to Monster.com in 2000, Ken Ramberg looked for a way to give back.

His solution: launching a site that allows Internet surfers to contribute to their favorite charities just by searching online.

Companies pay an advertising fee when users click on links during a search, and GoodSearch LLC devised a way to give half of that money to charities – charities each searcher chooses. In its five years in existence, GoodSearch has signed up 92,000 non-profits and schools that get that money. Just last month, Ramberg received a patent for the technology that powers the site.

“When I first looked into this, I was amazed that there was nothing like this out there,” said Ramberg, 45, who co-founded the business with his sister, J.J. Ramberg, the host of MSNBC show “Your Business.”

The patent may come in handy, though, now that the idea has caught on. Competitors, from InfoSpace’s Do Great Good to Search Kindly, offer similar services.

Ken Ramberg won’t say whether he will seek any royalties, although he noted, “We put a lot of time and effort into building our brand.”

Ramberg also runs an online shopping site, GoodShop.com, through which companies such as Amazon.com and Macy’s on average contribute 3 percent of online sales to charities designated by consumers.

The largest beneficiary from the two sites is animal welfare group ASPCA, which has earned more than $34,000 over the years. Among the local groups benefiting is Free Arts for Abused Children, a West L.A. organization that offers therapeutic arts activities to abused children.

The organization only received $165.70 in 2009 – a fraction of its $500,000 annual operating budget – but Executive Director Karrah Lonpa said she’s happy to take it.

“It may not be a lot of money, but I don’t have to do anything to raise it other than activities I already do – so I think they are fantastic,” Lonpa said.

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