Google will host its first-ever "Hangout-a-thon" on Dec. 3 to allow online visitors to make donations to their favorite charities as part of the annual "Giving Tuesday," which was begun in 2012 by New York City's 92nd Street Young Men's and Young Women's Hebrew Association (92nd Street Y).
The second annual event helps to raise money for a wide range of organizations, and Google is helping to promote it this year through a special Google+ Hangout created so that donors and fundraising groups can be brought together online.
"Tomorrow, on Giving Tuesday—an annual one-day event that encourages people to make donations to their favorite charities—we're making it easier for you to connect with a worthy cause through the first-ever 'Hangout-a-thon' on Google+," wrote Ramya Raghavan, head of politics and causes for Google. "Starting at 9 a.m. EST tomorrow on the Giving Tuesday Google+ page, you can join nonprofit organizations working to improve clean water access, eliminate bullying, and provide disaster relief in the Philippines."
Participants who join the Hangout to make donations will be able to talk with celebrity guests who will be standing by at the other end to take the donations, wrote Raghavan. "Learn more about their work, ask questions and connect directly to the people they're helping," wrote Raghavan. "Celebrities such as Jennifer Garner, Chris Daughtry and Sophia Bush will stop by to join in on the fun, and you can also donate to the charity of your choice while watching the Hangout."
The online event will continue from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. EST.
Among the charities that will receive donations through the event are Save the Children and UNICEF, which are helping the victims of the recent typhoon in the Philippines; the Africa Yoga Project in Kenya; the Malala Fund, which is working to promote education as a peace-building tool in developing nations; and Code.org, Girls Who Code and Code2040, which are working to support digital literacy.
"We hope you'll participate by watching the Hangout-a-thon, donating to a cause you care about and posting about the event with #givingtuesday on Google+," wrote Raghavan. "And to keep the giving going throughout the holiday season, download One Today, our Android app that lets you donate to a different nonprofit every day."
In February 2013, a Google+ Hangout was used by the crew of the International Space Station to take questions from citizens about life in Earth's orbit. It marked the first time that NASA has used a Google+ Hangouts session for an International Space Station mission. Also in February, President Barack Obama used a Hangout two days after his State of the Union speech to answer questions from the American people in what was essentially a virtual fireside chat.
In October 2012, Google created capabilities for voters to hold their own Google Hangouts debate-watching parties for their friends to watch the debates during the presidential election, which featured Obama and his challenger, Mitt Romney.
Google+ Hangouts was launched in June 2011, originally as a video chat app that allowed up to 10 users to communicate together in an online session. Later Hangouts was expanded with a wide range of new features, as Google sought to promote the services.