So it seems GoodSearch has a new competitor: GoodTree. I’ve previously discussed GoodSearch’s business model, and my pleasure when they quickly responded to my questions. So when GoodTree popped up I thought I’d revisit the “space”.
Just a refresher, GoodSearch allows you pick a NGO of your choice (as long as it’s a registered 501(c)(3) in the US) and donate $.01 to that group for each search you conduct. Only Yahoo search is available (big downside), but you can install their searchbar in your Firefox or IE toolbars. Goodsearch is a for-profit company, and they donate 50% of their revenue to the nonprofit orgs on their site.
GoodTree is pretty similar. They donate “about a penny” (not to be confused with the actual penny donated by GoodSearch) to the cause of your choice. Notice I didn’t say “charity”. You don’t get to pick any charity, you only get to pick from their list of 50 or so NGO behemoths. They say you can suggest one, but I suggested Interplast and it hasn’t appeared, nor have they acknowledged my request. There is a search bar you can place on your blog/website and your causes get the benefit from whoever uses your searchbar. They say they use a combination of search engines for their results, but that sorta sounds sketchy. I trust the search from folks like Google and Yahoo, I don’t trust the search for the thousands of websites out there that seem to offer the bastard lovechild of spam and search. Since GoodTree doesn’t really specify how they derive their search results, I have to assume the worst. GoodTree does have personalized homepages that allow you to add links to sites like CNN or iTunes, which seems sorta cool. They donate 25% of their revenue to the causes they support.
I like GoodSearch better for two reasons. First, they let you pick any organization. GoodTree claims that they only allow groups that have been vetted by “independent third party watchdog organizations”. Maybe so, but all of the orgs they picked don’t really seem like they’re hurting compared to the millions of grassroots groups struggling to get by who could actually use donations in the range (three digits is my guess) that GoodTree will realistically produce. Sucks that they want to help the world but only with large, bureaucratic organizations.
Another downside, and this one is pretty selfish here, is that they are unresponsive to emails. When I email GoodSearch, I get a response written by a human being within 24 hours. So when I asked each of them what the difference between their products were, GoodSearch gave me their schpiel. GoodTree didn’t. That influenced my opinion. I don’t expect the Googles of the world to respond to my emails, but if you’re small, young and nimble, responsiveness is one of your key advantages.
For all you startups out there, the way to my heart is pretty simple. Create a good product, make it simple, make all or most of it free and act like you care what I think. You don’t even have to really care what I think, just give me that impression. The big boys have an inherent disadvantage with the last one; auto-generated emails just piss me off. So when I write an email, you can ignore me if you want, but for every few Joe Schmos who you ignore, one is going to blog about your product. Like me.
GoodTree seems legitimate, just a little top-heavy. Many people have only heard of orgs that advertise in the media (translation: big groups with big PR departments), and if you want to help out those Big Boys, GoodTree is fine. But in every respect GoodSearch seems to be just a little better. They guarnatee one penny, which is a more than “almost a penny”. They let you pick the org of your choice, not just a big player in a particular area. They donate twice as much of their revenues. They have a cooler logo.
I’d be really excited if either offered Google, Technorati or Wikipedia search (my choice, not a mishmash). Other things that would impress me would be increasing the percentage of revenues donated and offering bonuses for click-throughs as another means of revenue generation for the orgs. Maybe I’m asking too much though…
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