Google Asks Users To Help Fight Ebola — And They Answer With Cash : Goats and Soda For the first time ever, Google reached out to users in a matching campaign to help fund Ebola treatment and prevention. The company's philanthropic director explains why.

Google Asks Users To Help Fight Ebola — And They Answer With Cash

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RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

A surgeon from Sierra Leone, who contracted Ebola there, has arrived in the United States for treatment at the Nebraska Medical Center. As the virus continues to spread, Google has decided to help out by asking its users for money. Something the tech giant has never done before. Specifically, Google said it would match each dollar donation to the Ebola crisis with two of its own. And last week, Google met its matching limit, $7.5 million.

Jacquelline Fuller is the director of Google's philanthropic organization google.org. And she says the company stepped in because the rest of the world hasn't stepped up.

JACQUELLINE FULLER: The thing with Ebola is that we're seeing that globally speaking, it's underfunded. And the public has not yet responded in the ways that we saw in the past with things like the Haiti earthquake. So we thought, you know what? - let's make it easy for the general public to learn a little bit more about Ebola and to give if they want to.

MARTIN: You've now raised $7.5 million for Ebola. Can you talk a little bit about where specifically the money is going to?

FULLER: Well, one thing that's been interesting for us, whenever we fund, we always look and see if there are specific technologies or new, innovative approaches that can be tried. And in this crisis, for the first time, we're also sending a team of our engineers to go work directly with Doctors Without Borders to help develop mobile tools that help with - within the clinics that help with contact tracing; that sort of thing.

MARTIN: What does contact tracing mean?

FULLER: Well, anytime someone's sick and has been diagnosed, you need to find out, as soon as possible, every single person that they've been in contact with so you can go warn those people, and test them, and see if they've been infected as well.

MARTIN: I mean, I imagine that there would be all kinds of organizations and charities that would love if Google adopted their cause for a day and asked for donations. How are you going to go about deciding when to engage this way?

FULLER: Well, we ask ourselves a series of questions. But the first one is really could Google make a differential impact? Do we have a unique role to play? Is there something that we can add that otherwise just wouldn't be done? Because if others are going to step to the front and do it, we can certainly just, you know, step back and let them do it. And what you see, it's interesting. It's not - it doesn't necessarily follow a logic train. Sometimes you'll see governments and the major international NGOs stepping up in a big way. And sometimes you'll see something like Ebola where you think, wow, the global response has not really been commensurate with the need.

MARTIN: Jacquelline Fuller is the director of google.org. Thank you so much for talking with us, Jacquelline. We appreciate it.

FULLER: Thanks, Rachel.

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