Charityware web site founder and charityware developer featured in the Hamilton Spectator

On November 28, 2003, charityware developer Bill Menees and the charityware web site founder, Adam Warren, were featured in the Hamilton Spectator. The article is no longer available on their web site, so it is reproduced here:

Nov. 28, 12:53 EDT

McMaster PhD student catalogues 'charityware'

Andrew Dreschel, Steve Buist
The Hamilton Spectator

When Adam Warren stumbled onto an Internet-based software program for a calculator, he soon became more intrigued with the philosophy of the software developer than the device he created.

The calculator program was developed by a man named Bill Menees, and in return for downloading his piece of software, he asks only that you donate $5 to a charity of your choosing. Menees doesn't care which charity, as long as it helps other people, animals or life itself.

On his download website, Menees includes this message: "I'll never know if you don't follow this licensing policy, but the negative karma from illegally using this software will be far worse than giving $5 to help someone else out. And if you do follow this policy, the good karma you accumulate will be much better than anything else you could get for $5."

"I wrote this software to help everyone out," says Menees' message, "and all I ask is that you return the favour by helping someone else out."

Warren, a 30-year-old chemical engineering PhD student at McMaster University, decided to go one step further.

He discovered that there were other examples out there of computer software programs known as "charityware." Unlike shareware, where a user is asked to send money to the developer of the program, charityware users are asked to donate their money to a worthy cause.
In some cases, the developer has a specific charity and a specific amount in mind. In others, it's left to the user.

But Adam discovered that charityware wasn't easy to find.

So he created a website that brings together all of the charityware programs he could locate into one central clearing house.

"I thought, 'This is a neat idea, why haven't I heard about this?'" said Adam. "When I started digging around a bit, I found these people, and then it's like anything, once you get the ball rolling, people contact you."

Adam now has almost 200 pieces of charityware by more than two dozen developers catalogued on his site. The programs are arranged by categories, such as Home and Business Tools, Educational and Academic, and Software and Web Development.

"Now we're trying to talk people into 'If you have a free software package that's very useful, why not make it charityware, or why don't you come help us make some new charityware?'" said Adam.

"We want to get some publicity for this idea because I think it's a concept that most people don't know about."

Adam grew up in Amarillo, Texas, and completed his undergraduate degree at Texas A&M University. He then joined the research and development division at Frito-Lay headquarters in Texas, which also had a research consortium connected with McMaster. When Adam decided to pursue his PhD, he headed north to Hamilton.

"It was really for the weather and the winters," he joked.

Also heading north was his wife, Amy, a transplanted Texan as well who now teaches in Waterdown.

Adam's charityware website is his attempt to help others as best he can.

"When I returned to grad school, I knew I wasn't going to be able to give much money, so I thought this was a good way to do something philanthropic," he said.

"And I learned a little bit about how the whole Internet thing works as well."

He's hoping other software developers will join in and provide new charityware products.

"There's already a lot of free software out there so we might as well be raising money," said Adam. "Even if it's only five or 10 bucks here and there, it can make a big difference.

"It's just like a bake sale, but instead of selling cookies for charity, you're selling some software."

The article gave the address to the old web site at charity-ware.org which has since been moved to http://charityware.info/ .