How to use online ads for a good cause

When adverts were added to this site in 2007, it was done as much out of curiosity as the hope that the revenue would cover the cost of hosting, the domain name and various software tools. It quickly became apparent that even a single unobtrusive ad in the right-hand column would indeed cover those costs.

I didn’t mind having ads on the site, even though web ads are still far from being as interesting as print ads can, on occasion, be. More on that later…

Google Adsense peanuts revenue

The problem with this kind of revenue is that Belgian tax laws don’t make it easy for people to earn a bit of money on the side. Once the income exceeds around 100 euros per month, you have to deal with a lot of paperwork and regulation. Additional taxes eat away a significant chunk of the profits. I ended up deactivating the ad from time to time to make sure I was only earning ‘legally acceptable peanuts’ to stay under the tax radar.  That annoyed me so I kept looking for alternative ways to make use of the opportunities that the site offered.

  • One of the first things I looked into was redirecting ad revenue to a good cause. I mailed the Red Cross, Caritas and Doctors Without Borders, asking them if they’d be interested in getting the ad revenue from my site. None of them bothered to answer my email. I guess they are pretty set in their ways when it comes to fundraising.
  • I then looked at it from the opposite point of view. Surely there is some kind of ‘good cause Adsense’, a web service that inserts ads for good causes into your pages, such as ads for fundraisers after major disasters or for setting up new schools? Why wouldn’t NGOs get together and set up a service so that any website can promote their good cause? Sadly, I did not find any such services.

In 2016 I had a new go at it. This time I simply filled in the Doctors Without Borders bank account number in Adsense. Google will then transfer a small amount and add a code to the payment to check if the bank account is valid. I then mailed Doctors Without Borders and asked them ‘Did you just get some money from Google Ireland and if so, what was the number in the message field?’ I guess actually receiving money changes things because this time I did get a reply and that number. I then mailed Doctors Without Borders to inform them they would get regular payments in the future and I used the security code to confirm in Adsense that their bank account number was valid.

So that is how the advertising on works today: Some months I collect the Adsense payments for the two ads but the amount is limited to cover operating costs, keep a bit of pocket money and stay within the boundaries of our tax legislation. The remaining months the revue goes directly to a good cause. All I have to do is alternate between the two bank account numbers on the payment settings page.

If you stumbled upon this page looking for advice on using Adsense to make a buck, I hope this inspires you to also use your site or blog for a good cause!


… and since this site is all about print and the article is about advertising, why not show some nice print ads for various good causes? Click the ads to enlarge them.


Horrifying – More horrifying

ad - endangered species

Sexual predators can hide in your child’s smartphone.

ad - sexual predators

Stop the violence. Don’t drink and drive.

ad - drink and drive

Don’t talk while he drives.
ad - talking while driving

We don’t sell Kinder chocolate eggs in the interest of child safety. Why not assault weapons?

ad - gun control

Every 60 seconds a species dies out.

ad - endangered species

I’d like to finish with an ad that is not for a good cause, but that is simply funny. I stumbled upon ‘Blocked Nose?’ while working on the article about ‘lorem ipsum’ and ‘the quick brown fox’.

print advert