Selling charitable eyeballs: Kiwi start-up Donate Your Desktop looks for the win-win-win with screen rental scheme

  • Advertising
  • May 7, 2012
  • Josh Martin
Selling charitable eyeballs: Kiwi start-up Donate Your Desktop looks for the win-win-win with screen rental scheme

An Auckland start-up is combining digital advertising and charitable causes to help improve the world—one desktop at a time. And the founders of hope they can soon put the screens of many millions of computers around the world to better use.

Although the triple bottom line concept—people, profit and planet—is nothing new, the founders are passionate about the idea of “personalised digital promotion”. Devised by ex-Colenso digital creative and Spitfire Creative digital art director Nelson Rayner, the model allows users to downloads an app that gives their computer a new desktop background daily (as the website says: "Don’t expect ugly promotions either; our branded desktops are attractive full-screen images that should be a pleasure to have as your desktop background"). And user profiling means advertisers (such as HP, Huffer, Subway, MediaWorks, Disney and are matched with user demographics.

The backgrounds are paid-for promotions, but 75 percent of the fee goes to either Starship Foundation, New Zealand Breast Cancer Foundation, Oxfam or WWF New Zealand. The remainder goes to Rayner’s limited company.

As director David Hillier puts it, you're essentially renting out your desktop as advertising space, with the majority of the proceeds going to a good cause and none of it coming from the computer user's pocket. So the always-hard-up student or businessman who snubs street collectors can become a catalyst for good in the world, without spending a dime, and getting rid of rolling green hills or tropical island scenes.

Hillier says the concept appeals to ad agencies because they are “guaranteed to hit almost 100 percent of your intended audience because nearly everyone is on a computer everyday, whether it's at home at work or on their lap".

"This frequency makes the medium great for time-conscious product launches, movie premieres and product sales," he says. "We thought it was a clever way to redirect advertising budgets to charities."

If each user receives a branded desktop image daily, one computer can generate more than $13 annually for the chosen charity and if you install the app on another computer, the donation is doubled. This may not sound like a lot but could add up if committed user figures continue to grow rapidly (there are currently over 1000 registered users and almost 16,000 desktops have been donated).

Hillier says it is their goal to reach 100,000 users in the New Zealand market and at that size he claims it will generate more than $1 million for its partner charities a year. It plans to expand to new regions internationally, too.

In an age where advertising is creeping further into each facet of society, this intrusion to home and office life is perhaps balanced by the feel-good factor of giving to charities in need.

This is a community discussion forum. Comment is free but please respect our rules:

  1. Don’t be abusive or use sweary type words
  2. Don’t break the law: libel, slander and defamatory comments are forbidden
  3. Don’t resort to name-calling, mean-spiritedness, or slagging off
  4. Don’t pretend to be someone else.

If we find you doing these things, your comments will be edited without recourse and you may be asked to go away and reconsider your actions.
We respect the right to free speech and anonymous comments. Don’t abuse the privilege.

Social responsibility: Facebook in the aftermath of the Christchurch mosque terror attack

Social responsibility: Facebook in the aftermath of the Christchurch mosque terror attack

Friday 15 March started out as a day of hope in New Zealand. Social media was awash with posts, images and stories about the nation’s teenagers taking to the streets to demand action on climate change. Tens of thousands of school students took part in the demonstrations, which stretched the length of the country from Southland to the Bay of Islands. However, by late afternoon, social media was filled with a completely different nationwide movement: an outpouring of grief about the Christchurch mosque terror attack.

Next page
Results for

StopPress provides essential industry news and intelligence, updated daily. And the digital newsletter delivers the latest news to your inbox twice a week — for free!

©2009–2019 ICG Media. All rights reserved.
Use of this site constitutes acceptance of our Privacy policy.


Contact Vernene Medcalf at +64 21 628 200 to advertise in StopPress.

View Media Kit