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Helping Canadian nonprofits connect with local communities



COVID-19 is expected to drive 49 million people around the globe into extreme poverty, with social issues such as unemployment, food security, housing, mental health, domestic violence and racial inequality being amplified by the pandemic. In Canada, searches for 'how to help' and 'where to donate' have reached an all-time high, as Canadians across the country look for ways to give back. As a result, many nonprofits are responding to the call to action, despite also struggling to stay afloat with typical fundraising activities impacted due to social distancing. 

One way nonprofits can get their message out to a wider audience, so that they can continue to attract donors, raise awareness and recruit volunteers is to use in-kind advertising on Google Search through Google Ad Grants. Launched in 2003 as Google's first philanthropic effort, Google Ad Grants offers nonprofits $10,000 USD a month to spend on search ads. Today, there are over 85,000 nonprofit organizations in Canada that are eligible for Ad Grants. 

To help onboard nonprofits who may not be aware of Ad Grants or don't know how to get started, Google employees across Canada's three sites in Toronto, Waterloo and Montreal created a nonprofit accelerator program, led by 90 volunteers. Through the accelerator program, nonprofits are provided recommendations on how to fully optimize their Ad Grants and are given training on how to improve organizational productivity with easy to use G Suite tools like Gmail, Docs, Calendar, Drive, and Meet.

For Food Banks Canada, an Ad Grant recipient and participant of Google Canada's nonprofit accelerator program, feeding those experiencing food insecurity is difficult in the best of times. New challenges brought on by the pandemic, such as decreases in community-based fund and food raising events, supply chain challenges, and less volunteers, make it even more difficult to ensure everyone that needs it, receives support. 

During the pandemic, Food Banks Canada launched the 'I Ate' campaign to ensure all Canadians from coast to coast can say “I Ate”. With the help of Google Ad Grants and our agencies Skylar Media Group and The Local Collective, the campaign saw a 690% increase in personal donations in the first 3 weeks, over that same time period the previous year,” said Tania Little, Chief Development and Partnerships Officer. “We have been so grateful for the outpouring of support from Canadians during these times.”

With community organization needs and volunteer roles changing rapidly as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, Volunteer Canada responded quickly by compiling and developing resources to help nonprofit organizations, companies and individuals navigate volunteer engagement and related topics. Google Ad Grants have allowed them to further extend their reach to provide relevant and up-to-date information on evolving volunteer engagement practices. 

“Google Ad Grants provided us with a new tool to get timely information into the hands of those who needed it most,” shared Karine Diedrich, VP Public Engagement and Knowledge Mobilization at Volunteer Canada. “It helped us reach nonprofits who were looking to thank and celebrate their volunteers, connect with companies seeking guidance on how to support community partners, and guide individuals looking to give back in their communities. As a fairly new recipient of the grant, the support we received through the accelerator program was just what we needed to refine, target and adapt our ads.”

In Quebec, nonprofit organization Immigrant Quebec uses Ad Grants to make sure they are communicating the most up-to-date and reliable information to newcomers in need of support. 

“Google Ad Grants give us the opportunity to increase our communication towards immigrants who are looking for information in this uncertain period. We are very grateful that Google gives us the opportunity to reach many more people than usual,” said Christophe Berthet, General Manager, Immigrant Quebec. 

For nonprofits looking to reach a wider audience and enhance their productivity, here are some tips on how to get started: Posted by Natasha Walji, Director, Telco, Public Sector & Tech, Google Canada