Google gets on the Ebola donations drive

Google (GOOG) is jumping into the fight against Ebola, promising to help raise $7.5 million in relief aid. It's also giving $10 million to seven nonprofit groups working on the cause.

"Our hearts go out to everyone whose lives have been touched by this tragedy," CEO Larry Page wrote in a blog post. Page said his family foundation will also be donating $15 million.

Google is the latest company to donate money to combat Ebola as the disease continues to ravage parts of West Africa. Facebook (FB) CEO Mark Zuckerberg and his wife announced a $25 million donation last month, and the company added an Ebola charity donation button to its site to encourage users to contribute.

Johnson & Johnson (JNJ) has committed up to $200 million to develop a vaccine that it hopes will protect people against the virus. The company has also contributed $1 million in cash, as has hospital operator HCA.

Paul Allen, the billionaire co-founder of Microsoft (MSFT), may be the largest personal donor to the Ebola cause, increasing his commitment to give organizations fighting the disease more than $100 million. "The Ebola virus is unlike any health crisis we have ever experienced and needs a response unlike anything we have ever seen," he said in a statement about the donations.

The World Health Organization estimated last week that 4,950 people have died out of 13,241 Ebola cases in Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone, the countries where Ebola has hit the hardest. The U.S. is building 17 Ebola treatment centers in Liberia, where more than 2,700 have died, hoping to stem the outbreak before it spreads further around the world.

Google said it plans to donate $2 for every $1 people contribute until its campaign hits a $7.5 million cap. The money will be evenly distributed to four nonprofits working in West Africa: Doctors Without Borders, International Rescue Committee, Partners in Health and Save the Children. Google also said it will pay for all transaction fees associated with the donations.

Video-game developer Blizzard has announced an unusual way for players of "World of Warcraft" to donate to Ebola relief. It has created a ram-like virtual pet that players can adopt for $10 in the game, and 100 percent of the proceeds will go to the American Red Cross.

So far, Americans have given very little money to the Ebola fight. The American Red Cross has received just $3.7 million in Ebola-related donations. Americans tend to donate more to the Red Cross to help with natural disasters such as earthquakes and hurricanes, and experts say it may be hard for them to relate to a disease outbreak on the other side of the world.

  • Kim Peterson

    Kim Peterson is a financial journalist covering business and the economy. She has written for several online and print publications, including MSN Money and The Seattle Times.