ThankThis: Donate $ without spending $

By Steve Outing

I’ve been in touch with and its CEO, Kurt Huang, for some time while he and his team have been developing a new revenue widget for online publishers. You can see it on this post, next to the Tweetmeme (“Retweet”) button at right: ThankThis.

Click on the button and you can financially support this site AND support a charity that you choose. But don’t worry: You will not spend a dime (or a cent) by clicking.

The money comes from sponsors, whose messages show up in a pop-up box after you click “ThankThis.” Money earned when a visitor to this blog clicks on an ad in one of these pop-ups goes into the system, and is later distributed among:

  • The site publisher (in this case, me)
  • The charity that the visitor selects when he or she has accumulated enough points
  • (which collects a small portion to run the service)

ThankThis is in private beta currently, and the ads you’ll see are from Google, so for now we’re not talking about much money changing hands. But if the service takes off and is able to sell enough sponsorships (or better, targeted advertising), I think this could turn into a nice extra revenue stream for online publishers.

ThankThis charity donation choices

ThankThis charity donation choices

An important point to note is that when you click “ThankThis,” the ad is not the prominent thing in the pop-up. Rather, it’s a note that tells you how many points you just earned; the ad is below that. To the right you should see how many points you have accumulated by clicking “ThankThis” on various participating websites and blogs.

When you get enough points to be ready to donate them, you click the “Donate Points” link and are presented with several options for spending them on a charity listed. (See the image accompanying this post.)

I like this idea, because … well, most people are cheap. They don’t want to donate money to a website that asks for a donation, and they most often ignore calls online to donate to charities. But with ThankThis, of course, donating money — yes, money — to a charity costs nothing.

Charity giving for cheapskates … what could be better?! (Count me among those online cheapskates, for the most part; but I do pay $5 a month for a Kachingle account and €2 a month for a Flattr account. Those services similarly aim to support multiple online publishers with user donations, but they distribute website users’ money while ThankThis distributes money from sponsors and advertisers.)

Will this work? I don’t know, but I like the concept and think that it has a chance of working. It’s not likely to support large newsrooms or anything like that, but, again, it might provide some extra money for the budget.

I’m disappointed that Kachingle and Flattr haven’t taken off in a big way yet, and I fear that ThankThis may suffer the same fate. If some BIG web publishers implemented any or all of these systems for networked user donations and put some marketing smarts into them, I suspect we’d see more money flowing. (I mean the likes of you,,, et al.)

Author: Steve Outing Steve Outing is a Boulder, Colorado-based media futurist, digital-news innovator, consultant, journalist, and educator. ... Need assistance with media-company future strategy? Get in touch with Steve!