Google commits additional $200m in ad grants for non-profits fighting racism and Covid-19

This has increased the California-based company’s annual ad grants commitment to $1bn

FILE PHOTO: Small toy figures are seen in front of Google logo in this illustration picture, April 8, 2019. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration/File Photo
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Google rolled out an additional $200 million (Dh734m) in advertising grants for non-profit organisations, especially firms that are fighting against racism and social injustice and those that are struggling to survive due to the coronavirus pandemic.

"Non-profits are taking swift action to confront these challenges, but many are struggling to stay afloat with typical fundraising activities cancelled due to social distancing," Michelle Hurtado, head of Google ad grants, said in the company's blog.

“Further compounding these challenges, they are seeing sharp increases in the demand for services, which makes fundraising and volunteering online especially critical,” she added.

This announcement has increased the California-based company’s annual ad grants commitment to $1 billion to support non-profits and other businesses. Last month, Google’s chief executive Sundar Pichai committed $800 million in ad credits and loans to help government organisations and small businesses respond to the Covid-19 crisis.

Since 2003, Google has provided non-profits with up to $10,000 per month in free search ads to help them attract donors, recruit volunteers and promote their missions.

The increased funding will go towards non-profits tackling pressing issues like Covid-19 response and recovery, especially in hard-hit developing economies, and fighting racial injustice around the world, the company said.

“As of this week, eight million people have been infected with Covid-19 and additional crises are worsening in mental health, domestic violence and social stigma … society is also reckoning with longstanding racial injustices, both in the US and abroad,” said Ms Hurtado.

Covid-19 is expected to drive 50 million people around the globe into extreme poverty, and developing countries will be particularly impacted, said Google, citing World Bank's figures.

“For this reason, we will award additional ad grants to non-profits serving vulnerable populations in developing economies such as South Africa, Kenya, Brazil, Mexico, India and Thailand,” said Ms Hurtado.

This week, Google introduced a $175m racial equity initiative with a focus on supporting black business owners, start-up founders, jobseekers and developers.

The announcements have come in response to recent protests in the US and elsewhere that call attention to long-standing discrimination against African-Americans, following the death of George Floyd in police custody last month.

The tech giant is also aiming to improve diversity within higher levels of its own workforce.

“We are working to improve black representation at senior levels and committing to a goal to improve leadership representation of underrepresented groups by 30 per cent by 2025,” said Mr Pichai.

Other big tech businesses such as Amazon and Facebook have also announced increased funding for black causes, while Apple introduced a $100m racial equity and justice initiative that will start in the US and expand globally over time.