Would you donate your desktop to charity?

Would you donate your desktop to charity?

Would you donate your desktop to charity?1

Fundraising | Kirsty Weakley | 4 May 2012

Would you hand your PC desktop background over to advertisers if it was fundraising for a good cause? That is just what one New Zealand organisation is asking. Kirsty Weakley takes a look.

Four big charities in New Zealand are now raising money from individuals renting out their computer desk-top background to advertisers. Is this a revolutionary new way of raising money for charity or an invasion of personal space that is one step to far?

Oxfam New Zealand, New Zealand Breast Cancer Foundation, Starship Foundation and WWF New Zealand are the four charities that have an exclusive six-month arrangement with Donate Your Desktop so far. Once individuals have signed up, chosen a charity and downloaded the application, their background wallpaper is renewed each day with one that is sponsored by a different advertiser.

Three quarters of the amount paid by the advertisers is donated to the charity with the remaining 25 per cent kept by Donate Your Desktop, so it can "fulfil (its) vision and expand Donate Your Desktop globally".

Since it launched three weeks ago, more than 1,000 users have registered and can add the application to any computer. Donate Your Desktop predicts that it can raise more than $1m (almost £500,000) in one year for each charity if it reaches its goal of 100,000 users.

Advertisers who have signed up include Subway, Sky TV and a travel insurance advisor (click on the images at the bottom of the page to see some examples of backgrounds). They pay 5 cents per day per active desktop meaning that the cost per day is about $50 at the moment and will rise to $5,000 per day if the organisation reaches its target number of users.

Will it succeed?

I’m torn about whether it will succeed. On the one hand it sounds like an innovative way to donate to charity at a time when everyone’s finances are stretched and I can see how it might reach people who might not normally donate to charity.

On the other, I’m sceptical about the number of people who will sign up to it, I like many others change my desktop background something I want to see (at work I’ve got Stonehenge for my inner Druid, and at home I have photos from a recent holiday on a rolling timer) it might sound selfish but I’m not sure I want to give that up.

But maybe that’s silly, after all how much time do you spend looking at your desktop, within a couple minutes of logging on I’ve usually opened my email, web browser and word processing application I often don’t see the desktop again until the end of the day. Would it really be such a trial to be faced with an advert for that short time, especially if it meant a worthy cause was benefitting?

David Hillier, one of the directors has promised that, “we endeavour to provide a visually attractive desktops promoting brands you want to see”. Click on the images below for some examples.

Obviously it’s early days and we’ll have to wait and see. Although if you are considering it Donate Your Desktop has  got a form on its website to fill in so that you will be notified when it launches in the UK.


Adam James
14 Oct 2012

Hi - where do I find a list of charities that have desktop apps such as "SETI at home". Would like one to share computer time with Water Aid or similar environmental funds... (yes, have googled)


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Kirsty Weakley is a reporter at Civil Society Media.

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