The Ongoing History of Google Grants

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My brothers and I like many kids during a long car ride liked to have our parents turn up the music on the radio. By the time we were in high school, we were jamming to 102.1 The Edge, a local Toronto rock music station. The Ongoing History of New Music with Alan Cross, a regular radio program on that station, inspired this blog post. The radio program would take us back through time and throw the most interesting factoids about the history of alternative rock at us. Now with all the changes happening to the Google Grants program, I thought it’d be nice to go back down memory lane ourselves and take a closer look at its history, what inspired its creation, and what Google Grants has been able to accomplish in its 10 years of existence.

In October 2000, Google launched the first version of Google AdWords with 350 initial advertisers. The original self-service ad platform provided online credit card activation, keyword targeting, and performance feedback. Google and its advertisers saw the value of AdWords immediately. By February 2002 there were already additions and overhauls being made to the program and the new cost-per-click pricing system that we are familiar with today was introduced. This new model made search advertising cost-effective for both small and large businesses.

Throughout the initial successes of Google AdWords, Google’s co-founders, Larry Page and Sergey Brin, and their executive team wanted to find a way to share their new found power of search advertising with the nonprofit world. Google decided to provide nonprofits with free ads using the AdWords platform so that they may reach a wider audience and make it easier for people to discover their cause using search. Thus, Google Grants was created in April 2003 to facilitate the provision of in-kind ad campaigns for nonprofit organizations. The core objective was to “extend Google Grants to as many organizations as possible—to share [Google’s] philosophy of community service to help the world.”

At that time Google took on the responsibility of building and managing the accounts for every initial nonprofit that joined the Google Grants program. You can imagine that this took up a lot of time and human resources, keeping in mind that in 2003 there were only 500 Googlers providing support to the thousands of advertisers joining the successful Google AdWords platform each and every day. It was tough to ask Googlers to volunteer extra time to assist in launching and supporting non-revenue generating accounts, however, true to form, Googlers stepped up to answer the call immediately. Today, Google Grants is more of a self-service program where each individual nonprofit is responsible for building and managing their own account and ad campaigns.

Now if you aren’t familiar with Google Grants, I should probably stop and explain what the program is all about. Google Grants provides charities with up to $10,000 worth of pay-per-click search engine advertising month after month with no fixed end date. Pay-per-click ads are the link-based text ads you see at the top and right hand side of your Google search engine results page. These ads help nonprofits connect with the people searching for their cause online. Here are 6 reasons why charities should get Google Grants and ways nonprofits are using the grant to respond & recover from COVID.

In December 2010, Google introduced Grantspro to the nonprofit community. This was an opportunity for nonprofit organizations with high-performing AdWords accounts to apply for additional ad spend. Eligible charities could receive an additional $30,000 per month on top of their Google Grants funding for a total of $40,000 of free online advertising per month. Unfortunately, as of late 2012, acceptances for Grantspro applications have been halted indefinitely. March 2011 saw the introduction of Google for Nonprofits in the US. This new program included Google Grants, Youtube for Nonprofit, Google Earth, and Google Apps for Nonprofits all under one umbrella for US-based nonprofits. I hope that Google introduces this program to more countries soon.

Today, 10 years after its launch, Google Grants now serves nonprofits in more than 25 countries. The program has grown so quickly over the past couple of years. From 2003-2008, 1,000 Googler volunteers supporting more than 4,000 grantees resulted in generating about $273.3 million worth of clicks. In 2010, Google has helped nonprofits by providing $600 million in advertising since the start of the program in 2003. In 2011, the total value of clicks provided to nonprofits since the start of Google Grants has gone up by another $260 million. It will be amazing to see where the program is headed next.

Google Grants is such a valuable resource for nonprofits. By tapping into the search advertising provided by Google, a nonprofit’s online presence can grow rapidly. The past couple of years have seen a faster turnaround period and streamlining of the program requirements, the application, and the review process. All nonprofits should consider applying for a Google Grant. If interested, take a look at our Complete Guide to Google Grants for more information.

Google Company History –
Google Economic Impact –
Google for Nonprofits Blog – “Why I Volunteer with Google Grants” –
Google Grants Blog – “Google Grants Turns 5” –
Google Jobs – Toronto image –
Webrageous Studios – What is Google Grants? –

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A $499 Setup Fee May Apply

Before you apply for the Google Ad Grant, nonprofits require:

  1. Access to an approved Techsoup account
  2. Access to an approved Google for Nonprofits account
If you have both of the above, we will waive the $499 setup fee and complete the rest of the Google Ad Grants application process on your behalf. If you already have the Google Grant but lost administrative access or has been deactivated, we will apply this fee toward helping you getting your account back and reactivated.

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