Google.org donates $3.7M to support civic-minded technologists

Google.org, the search giant’s philanthropic arm, will make a $3.7 million donation to cultivate civic participation and engagement through technology.

The organization will dole out $2.1 million to the Sunlight Foundation to increase access to government data, and to UK-based mySociety, a website with tools and open API’s developers can use to build new civic apps and services.

Google isn’t the only tech giant to take an active role in supporting the Sunlight Foundation, which was formed in April 2006 to improve accountability in government. Craigslist’s Craig Newmark sits on the foundation’s board, and Wikipedia cofounder Jimmy Wales, is an advisor. In recent years, the foundation has launched a spate of technology projects, including mobile apps with up-to-date information about members of Congress.

Both these organizations aim to promote collaboration between civic-minded technologists. For instance, the code for a civic app created in Finland can be made available to a developer in South America.

The news was announced today in a company blog post by Google.org vice president Matthew Stepka. In line with Google’s “do no evil” mantra, he writes that technology has helped people “engage and contribute to society like never before.” Stepka cites recent examples of internal efforts, like Google’s Civic Information API, which enables citizens to access election data, and Kenya Elections Hub, a recent effort to increase transparency around political candidates.

“Both organizations are working to bring together a larger community — governments, developers, companies, nonprofits, and citizens — with an interest in improving societies,” Stepka writes.

Through efforts like the Google Transparency Report, the Mountain View-based company has taken an active interest in improving access to data. Even better, it is fronting the requisite funds to affect change.

Transparency image // Sunlight Foundation Blog