Innovative website offers socially responsible web marketing

Since launching two years ago, has raised $2 million for a wide variety of good causes, while inviting advertisers to choose which ones to align their messages with.

Somewhat akin to a dating service, but with loftier goals, Vancouver-based is an online community that teams up charitable organizations and other good causes with donors.

The charities create on-line profiles where they can collect pledges for activities, which range from simple walk-athons to more ambitious goals. Recent successes include helping a British Columbia women’s centre purchase a new computer plus high-speed Internet access, sending Ugandan war refugees to school, and helping build a playground for a Honduran orphanage.

Meanwhile, web advertisers get in on the action by choosing which of the charitable projects best align with their brand identity, and also appeal to their target demographic. In addition to their ads, companies can link banners to their own websites, to their corporate social responsibility reports, or to community relations pages that highlight their own charitable works. An added advantage for advertisers is that GiveMeaning donors repeatedly visit the site to track mounting donations, so brand messages are seen by their target audiences over and over.

Among the companies that have advertised on are CIBC, Mountain Equipment Co-op and Patagonia.

GiveMeaning, which launched during Christmas 2004, is the brainchild of former computer gaming prodigy Tom Williams, who worked for Apple Computer pioneering interactive music technology. He was also a strategist for Intel and News Corp, after which he created GiveMeaning as an ad venue for companies that want to project a socially responsible image while doing business online.