In a remote village in West Africa, a family carries plastic jugs of clean water to their home for the first time, and somewhere in India a schoolgirl thirstily gulps fresh water from a newly installed pump. In a war-ravaged town, a teacher receives stacks of untouched books and learning material, making the dream of education a reality.
And you? You’re surfing the web right now. But what if every click of your mouse provided for these people, and you made a difference in the life of someone else by opening a tab?
This is what Alex Groth and Kevin Jennison — two university students from California — wanted to find out when they launched Tabs for a Cause in August 2011.
“Thinking about this we realized that new tab pages are pretty much blank real estate for us to capitalize on and allow charities to reach people,” said Jennison, who graduated from Grinell College in 2012.
Together, he and Groth, a 2012 Ponoma College graduate, decided to craft a way for everyday people to make an impact in the world — one tenth of a cent at a time.
Tabs for a Cause is an extension which can be downloaded on Google Chrome and Firefox, and this is how it works: every time you open a new tab, the extension takes users to specifically-designed pages with advertisements and content that donate money to the partner charities. Essentially, the online advertisements we see every day are the ones that pay for the donations. According to Groth, each new tab generates approximately one tenth of a penny for the charities.
With over 3.2 billion people actively utilizing the internet according to the United Nations, the numbers have the potential to exponentially add up. In 2015, the money donated to partnering charities exceeded $100,000.
“The best part is that it is such an easy way to make a positive difference,” said Kayla Fischer, a biology junior. “When thousands of people are opening hundreds of tabs, it adds up quickly. It’s also a plus that we don’t have to change anything about our daily lives to do it.”
Tabs for a Cause is currently focused on global issues such as clean water, human rights, education and the environment. They’ve teamed up with Educate, Water.org, Room to Read, Human Rights Watch, Conservation International, International Peace Institute and Save the Children and are working on adding more charities as their funding grows.
Users are able to prioritize which charities they donate to with the tabs, which is a unique feature to the growing organization. Groth, Jennison and their team have also created a way for one charity to receive an extra $500 donation four times a year when they select the “tabber” who has been the most active online. They allow the winner to choose which charity will be donated the extra money.
Besides hosting individual competitions for the purpose of charity, Tabs for a Cause has also introduced a contest between participating American universities to see which university can open the most tabs and subsequently raise the most money.
UH even has its own tabbing community, which has raised enough money to provide 19 people (and counting) with a lifetime of clean water.
“The best part is definitely how simple it is to make a difference,” said health sophomore Zeel Vora. “It literally requires no additional effort, so students really have no excuse to not help make a difference and possibly help UH win the (tabbing) championship.”
Joining Tabs for a Cause is simple and practical: go to their website at http://tab.gladly.io and allow the extension to install. From there, start tabbing and improving lives around the world.
The Tabs for a Cause team is located in California and all of their extra expenses are paid out of pocket. Groth said they look at these expenses as way for them to personally invest in the organization and the global difference it is making.
“In college it doesn’t seem like any donation I can give to a charity is going to be very impactful,” Groth said. “I kind of wanted to create a way where everyone can be giving to charity regardless of your monetary worth at that time.”