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Charities net cash from e-mail service

A charitable couple have pioneered an e-mail provider that enables computer users to do their bit.

Simon Martin and Lorraine Hurst of Helmdon will donate 45 per cent of profits from their new venture, ippimail.com to charities of users' choice. Similar to hotmail, ippimail.com provides a website-based e-mail service.

It is free to join, with money raised through advertising on the site.

Founded by the couple and their friend Kate Plumb from London, the service is thought to be the first of its kind and Save the Children, the Born Free Foundation and Breast Cancer Care have already signed up.

"This exciting new venture allows people to make a difference in an empowering and unique way," said Mr Martin. "It's open to everybody all over the world, and just by using an ippimail address users will be contributing to their chosen good causes on a daily basis."

When users sign up they are offered a tick box list of the charities that have agreed to associate with the site from which to choose.

As well as established national organisations, Mr Martin is hoping local charities will get on board too as well as those set up for temporary causes such as natural disasters. One of these thinking of joining the scheme is the Banbury and District Samaritans, which welcomed the initiative. "It's an excellent idea and I'm all for profits going to good causes rather than some nebulous commercial organisation," said deputy director Maurice, whose surname cannot be revealed for confidentiality reasons.

"As a local charity you never have enough opportunities to take in donations and something like this could really help."

Users are asked to fill in an anonymous questionnaire about tastes and lifestyle. This information will be used to help generate advertising.

Ippi is a Japanese phrase meaning "to do one's bit". The idea of ippimail was born from the ethos of Open Source (OS) and a further ten per cent of the service's profits are being donated to the OS community. OS software is left in the public domain where it can be read, redistributed and modified by programmers for the benefit of the computing community.

Mr Martin, who works in the photographic industry said "I wanted to contribute more to the OS community and Lorraine has worked for many charities over the years so the two sides just merged into one It will provide all the usual functions that you'd expect from an internet provider and offer some of the latest OS software. No junk mail will be generated from the site with every effort being made to eliminate external spam."

He said profits not donated to charity will be ploughed back into the company.

Becky Burrell, marketing executive for Save the Children said: With e-mail becoming such an everyday form of communication it makes sense for us to link up with a service which gives something back to society."

The Banbury Guardian - 6th April 2006

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