Google Brings The Telethon Online With First-Ever “Hangout-a-thon”

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On Tuesday – aka Giving Tuesday - Google will repurpose its video broadcasting service called Google+ Hangouts to help host an online “Hangout-a-thon” that aims to connect those interested in making charitable donations with a worthy cause of their liking. Like a modern-day telethon, the “Hangout-a-thon” will feature celebrities, including  Jennifer Garner, Chris Daughtry and Sophia Bush, plugging their favorite non-profit or charity, says Google.

Organizations like Unicef, Charity Water, Save the Children, the Malala Fund, The Trevor Project, and several others will be involved, asking donors to give to help improve clean water access, eliminate bullying, provide disaster relief in the Philippines and more, Google explains in a post this morning announcing the event, that will take place tomorrow starting at 9 AM ET on the “Giving Tuesday” Google+ page.

In addition to the usual round-up of organizations doing good, the Hangout-a-thon will also have a tech angle, it seems. Google notes that viewers will also get a “quick coding lesson” from Code.org, Girls Who Code, and Code2040, who will also be there to inform viewers about the topic of digital literacy.

The event will be 12 hours long, and include 24 charities and brands in total, a full list of which has not yet been released. Viewers watching the event will be invited to donate directly to the organizations doing the fundraising, or support the organizations via the “Shoppable Hangouts” app which will allow viewers to buy “goods for good” (i.e. actual products) during the event.

For example, Hucksley, a curated marketplace for emerging brands that typically gives 25% of profits to charity with each purchase, will join with Google, Pencils of Promise, and Sophia Bush to donate 100% of profits during the event which will go toward helping build 25 schools in Guatemala.

This is the first time organizations have ever used Hangouts to power a charitable event like this, Google says. But it’s not Google’s first foray into giving. Not only does the company have a charitable arm called Google.org which develops tools that use technology for social impact, it also this year launched its inaugural attempt at mobile giving with the Google One Today Android app, which encourages users to donate $1 toward causes they like.

It should be interesting to see what kind of reach an online telethon-like event can generate – although it takes place on a social platform that’s available worldwide, it’s also competing with the vastness of the internet for your attention, while the old-school TV telethon generally took place during a time when there weren’t that many other choices in terms of programming. Still, for those wasting time online during the holidays, there are far worse destinations to mindlessly click through to than an event for giving, of course.