Google Grants Turns 5

Wednesday, April 2, 2008 | 10:13 AM

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This week we're celebrating the fifth birthday of Google Grants—the company's inaugural philanthropic program—and we thought we'd share with you the story of its early days.

In early 2002, Google's self-service advertising platform AdWords relaunched with a new cost-per-click (CPC) pricing model. This model made search advertising as cost-effective for small businesses as for large ones.

As AdWords took off, our co-founders Larry and Sergey, and other Google executives, wanted to extend the power of search advertising to non-profit organizations by giving them free ads on They thought that, through AdWords, non-profits too could reach a wider audience and connect with the people who were searching for information about their specific cause or programs. No laborious meetings or extended discussions were necessary: that desire to support non-profits led directly to the idea of Google Grants.

But how to manage a new program for this audience? Back then, we had only about five hundred Googlers developing the infrastructure and tools to support the thousands of advertisers who began flocking to Google AdWords.

Now imagine asking these people to volunteer extra time to help launch and support this non-revenue-generating project! Yet, true to form, many Googlers did just that. By the end of 2002, our employees were referring their favorite non-profits to our nascent program.

After a couple of meetings with our founders and other executives about how to choose the most worthy applicants, we decided our goal would be to extend Google Grants to as many organizations as possible—to share our philosophy of community service to help the world.

Over time, this goal has meant that we're
able to say "yes" a lot more than "no." We support a myriad of organizations, large and small, around the globe. Along the way, we've learned a lot about working with non-profits, and with that knowledge we've continued to make changes to the program.

So where are we today? Since activating our first account on April 1, 2003, we've launched Google Grants in 15 additional countries (with more to come). With the help of nearly 1,000 Googler volunteers worldwide, we currently support more than 4,000 grantees with free AdWords advertising. To date, the combined value of the clicks accrued by grantee advertisers on is approximately $273.3 million. But the impact on our grant recipients is immeasurable. We'll be sharing some of these success stories in future posts.

Please join us in celebrating this milestone by sharing your own Google Grants experience via our Help Center form. We all enjoy reading your success stories as much as I hope you've enjoyed this post.

Here's to the next five years. We look forward to our continued work together with you!