SearchScene – Origin Story

The charitable search engine that puts people over profit.

SearchScene is a charitable search engine. Like Google, SearchScene makes its profits from the ads that appear at the top and bottom of your search results. Unlike Google, SearchScene donates 95% of its profits to charity. We focus on environmental and humanitarian charities that help tackle climate change and the suffering it causes. 

SearchScene was started by husband and wife team, Dr. Neil Williams and Dr. Ciara Muldoon. Neil, who is originally from Wales, worked as an Aerospace Engineer in the space industry in Germany for many years. When the spacecraft that his team had been working on failed to make orbit shortly after launch, he had some time to reflect on his career path. He decided to make a change and start an internet marketing company in 2006. 

Ciara is originally from Inishmore, a small island off the Atlantic coast of Ireland. She holds a degree in Physics, a PhD is Science Studies, and worked as a science communication consultant before joining Neil’s company, shortly before they were married, in 2009. Since then, they have helped to promote hundreds of websites online and have enjoyed working together from their home in Devon in England. 

They decided to do something more meaningful with their work, around the time their daughter was born in 2017, and so started a search engine that would benefit wider society and the living planet (instead of just Google’s shareholders). 

The idea for SearchScene came about after reading about the massive profits that companies like Google, Facebook, Amazon and Apple make, the complicated tax avoidance schemes they use in order to avoid paying their fair share of taxes, the billions of dollars paid out to their shareholders every year, and the hundreds of billions of dollars they hoard in banks. Some of the shareholders and executives of these trillion-dollar companies enjoy a pampered life of private jets, luxury yachts, and multiple mega-mansions. 

In contrast, impoverished people live precarious lives, often in war-torn countries, ravaged by the impacts of extractive capitalism, famine, drought, and disease. The social injustice of the world that we live in is truly staggering. The plight of these poor people will only become worse as the effects of climate change hit them the hardest. 

Everyone who uses the internet uses a search engine. That search engine is usually Google, who enjoy a market share of over 90% in Western countries. Creating a rival search engine that donates 95% of its profits to charity empowers all of us to help in a very small way to improve the lives of the world’s most impoverished people. 

We support WaterAid, UNICEF, Oxfam and UNHCR, who are helping people gain access to proper sanitation, clean water, and life-saving food, whilst supporting refugees who have been displaced by climate disasters and human conflicts. We also support Eden Reforestation Projects, who plant trees that help absorb CO2 from the atmosphere, while also giving farmers a living wage that helps lift them and their families out of extreme poverty. Meanwhile, our support for WWF helps save animals and habitats that are in danger of being wiped out by deforestation, forest fires, receding ice sheets and many other effects of climate change. Many of these organisations also lobby governments to bring in new environmental and humanitarian laws to protect vulnerable people, wildlife, and habitats. Prevention is always better than cure!

SearchScene is mainly powered by Microsoft Bing, so delivers accurate, comprehensive search results. It has also been enhanced by bespoke knowledge panels, instant answers, and widgets, that vastly improve the search experience with a variety of data pulled from a number of different sources. Users can choose the charities they wish to support on SearchScene. Each search raises one token for charity, the value of which is split between the charities they’ve elected to support. Users can also create groups and collect tokens together, so you can join a group for your business, university, school, class, sports team or just start a private group of friends or family. Then you can view your collective impact, e.g., how many trees you’ve planted, how much CO2 you’ve absorbed, or how many water pumps you’ve donated whilst working together as a group. This is also a great way to help meet your company’s CSR (corporate social responsibility) goals for free!

SearchScene is also extremely private in relation to Google. Unlike Google, SearchScene doesn’t track you around the web, doesn’t store your searches, doesn’t store your personalised user data, serves up non-personalised ads and search results and even automatically deletes its own server logs every day.

SearchScene is all about scalability – it’s about what we can achieve when we all work together for the common good. Whilst solving the climate crisis will take a lot more than just changing your search engine, using SearchScene instead of Google is a simple, free and easy way to make a small difference. And if enough of us do it, that can really add up to a lot. You only need to look at Google’s eye-watering annual profits of $86 billion to see this – a figure that is increasing by around 36% year-on-year. Just imagine how that money could be used differently!

Our vision of the future is a world where people use SearchScene as much as they use Google, allowing us to raise billions for charity, without any of our users having to donate a single cent! However, given how entrenched Google is in everyone’s lives, that’s unlikely to happen. Still, it doesn’t stop us dreaming of what could be achieved if we all worked together and put people over profit!

Add SearchScene to your desktop browser or download our app for your phone or tablet and give it a try. You’ll have the peace of mind of knowing that your searches are not being tracked and you’re helping to save the living planet and create a more equitable world with every search you make.

You can find out more about SearchScene and how it works by clicking here.



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