Google Donated $8 Billion Worldwide to Nonprofits Through Google Grants

Mary Ellen Coe, the president of Google Marketing Solutions, recently wrote an article on Google’s economic impact report for American businesses. From the report, you can further drill down into information that is unique to your state.

Google obviously has skin in the game, as do I, admittedly, so you might be dubious of this self-reporting. However, Google explains their methodology and provides four case studies for each state, which comes to a whopping total of 204 (Washinton DC is included) unique businesses with demonstrable improvement from using these tools. They also include an outside study from Deloitte.

Even Very Small Organizations can Benefit from Google AdWords Marketing

Not every campaign in AdWords is gonna be successful, but the beauty of the platform is the multitude of ways in which it can be customized. I encourage nonprofits and small businesses not give up on AdWords, but to tweak the campaigns to their needs. The most obvious way that it can be adjusted is with budgets. You might think you are too small to play the Google AdWords marketing game. You are not. It is free to get an account and you can set your budget at any price. You can even pause all of your campaigns completely.

Leverage the Account For Research

Further, this account has built-in tools for you to do an immense amount of market research. Getting an AdWords account and then pausing all campaigns just to use the built-in tools of the AdWords platform has been a long-time tactic of marketers. Google released updates that restrict some information when no campaigns are running, but you can still get tons of great information even from an account with only paused campaigns. Two great things you can do in this platform are research how frequently people in a region search something and see what a search engine results page looks like in a different city.

When you have campaigns running and your account linked to other platforms (such as Google Analytics), you can see an immense amount of information, for example, what someone who searches something does on your website. Out of privacy concerns, Google restricts what the search term was for a person who comes to your website when they come through an organic listing on the search engine. However, as of now, they do not do that when someone comes to your website when they click on one of your advertisements on the search engine.

The Google Grants Stats

Given that this is a nonprofit blog and as of now my only service is Google Grants management, when I saw this I immediately jumped to the Google Grants stats. It’s great for me when talking to nonprofits to be able to use stats that come directly from Google. Thus far, Google has given out over $8 billion in free advertising to nonprofits. Last year, in only the U.S., Google has given out $692.92 million in free advertising to nonprofits.


In looking at the data for each state, I was curious as to what states have been really taking advantage of this. Simply looking at who got the most money isn’t very helpful since anyone could guess it would be California simply due to the population. So I entered the info into a spreadsheet along with the population of the state to get the per capita amount that Google has contributed to each state through Google Grants. You can download it to follow along with the rest of the blog by submitting this form. When you click submit, the file will be added to your downloads folder as well as show up at the bottom of most browsers. Feel free to reach out if you have any trouble.

Who Won?

Washington DC has by far the highest donation per capita with $60.09. However, I see this as an outlier and not just because it is technically a district and not a state. Washington DC has a relatively small population but is also the logical headquarters for nonprofits who work in collaboration with the federal government. Further, being a small district by land area as well with large populations just across its border, it is likely their initiatives cross into Virginia and Maryland.

Excluding Washington DC, the highest donation per capita was Colorado with $5.12. Congrats, Colorado! Way to take what’s yours!

Who Lost?

The lowest donation amount per capita was Idaho with $0.36. Better luck next year, Idaho. Comparing the values of Idaho to Colorado, Idaho received one-fourteenth per capita of what Colorado received through the Google Grants program. Comparing Idaho to the U.S. average of $2.15, Idaho received one-sixth per capita of the national average.

But This Isn’t Real Money, Right?

No, at least in the sense that it can’t be spent on anything in the same way that cash can. But it has value. This money feels very real to me and my clients. We use this money to promote our initiatives on the internet, which we would have had to pay for with real money in the same way that for-profits do if it weren’t for this extremely generous donation.

Is This Estimated In-Kind Value the Same Value that The Nonprofit Receives From It?

Maybe. Maybe not. It depends on the nonprofit. Some nonprofits may even get much more than this estimated value from it. The in-kind amount is a calculation based on a bidding system for clicks on the nonprofits advertisements. Whether the visitor to the site takes an action of that value or greater is not something that Google currently has good data on. Even if they were to mandate that data be collected through the e-commerce tool in Google Analytics (which is currently recommended but not yet mandatory), that would only apply to financial transactions. What is the monetary value of getting useful and truthful information to someone that your organization’s mission is dedicated to helping? The answer is clearly subjective and will vary drastically depending on the specific nonprofit’s goals.

However, despite the calculation being imperfect, it is the most accurate in-kind calculation that I’ve ever seen. The value for a click is calculated based on these free-market bids that exist in that very moment. How does that compare to when you drop some stuff off at Goodwill and try to estimate the value on your receipt? Was that shirt from high school worth $2, $5, or $50 because someone somewhere considers it vintage?

Economic Impact of Business Development

A comprehensive economic impact study for the value of the Google Grants program for each state would be beyond the scope of this blog, but I at least want to talk about economic impact in a big-picture sense. States often compete against each other when it comes to their economic development. They do this by providing business resources, business grants, and tax breaks. John Oliver had a great bit on a Kansas City business that jumped from the Missouri side to the Kansas side and then back, over and over again, depending on the tax incentives. If you watch the full video, you’ll see that oftentimes the economic impact of the multiplier effect is overstated by those with skin in the game, sometimes so much so that the state loses more in tax revenue than they gain by the program. However, there’s no denying that there is a verifiable benefit to bringing more business to your state.

What do you think these stats mean for Colorado’s economic development? Though some of this donation likely went toward promoting non-revenue generating initiatives, there are a lot of opportunities to generate revenue with Google Grants. With that in-kind donation used for advertising, the nonprofit can sell things. Using that sales revenue,  they can alleviate poverty (or whatever their mission is) in their neighborhood and pay their employees. With employees getting those wages, they can buy their kids ice cream at a local shop. And on and on.

That $8 billion dollars of in-kind donation from the second largest corporation in the world has to go somewhere. Why shouldn’t it be going to your state? So once again, congratulations to Colorado.

Michael Rasko is a nonprofit marketing consultant who specializes in Google Grants. If you work with or for a nonprofit who is interested in starting or improving a Google Grants account, contact him to learn more about a one-month, no-commitment free trial. Included in the free trial is application assistance for new accounts and re-activation assistance for accounts that have been suspended for policy violations.

You can contact him for this reason or any other reason by filling out the contact form below or calling (503) 558-6500. If you do call and get voicemail, remember to leave a detailed message to differentiate yourself from the many robocalls that publicly listed phone numbers receive.