Google supporting non-profits in South Africa

Words by Anuschka Richards

Have you ever searched for something on Google and been presented with adverts at the top, bottom and right hand side of your page? Or noticed a huge flashing banner advertising the latest 40% off sale at Zando while you’re innocently browsing through your favourite website? That’s all thanks to Google AdWords. Now we know traditional advertising is usually associated with trying to push sales or product, but Google has been quite creative in learning how to leverage their online advertising service to raise awareness for non-profit organisations and help them meet their goals.

Google has been taking advantage of the power and reach it has to help non-profit organisations through a programme called Google Ad Grants. It’s been live in other parts of the world since 2003 and as recently as last year it finally made its way to South Africa. The motivation behind the programme is to empower non-profit organisations by giving them $10 000 per month to promote their initiatives on Google’s search engine. Essentially Google Ad Grants provides free online advertising opportunities, at absolutely no cost to the organisation itself.

If used correctly, this could be a huge advantage for non-profits in South Africa who often play a vital role in meeting essential needs and services where the government falls short. It’s usually non-profit organisations who actively play roles in improving service around education, social welfare, health and social enterprise initiatives. With the help of Google Ad Grants, these vital players in South African society can promote their websites on Google, raise awareness by creating unique ads that will highlight the work they do and track online donations, newsletter sign-ups, volunteer registrations and more.

To be eligible for the Google Ad Grants programme, organisations must hold current and valid charity status, as determined by their country. In South Africa organisations would need to be registered under the Companies Act 71 of 2008 or the Non-Profit Organisations Act 71 of 1997 as a non-profit company to be considered. They would also need to acknowledge and agree to the application’s required certifications regarding non-discrimination and donation receipt; as well as use and have a functioning website with substantial content. Government entities and organisations, hospitals and medical groups, schools, childcare centres, academic institutions and universities are not eligible for the Google Ad Grants programme.

Our team at DigifyZA are in their last month of an intense three-month digital training programme and have started running their own Google Ad Grants campaigns. They are currently working with four non-profit organisations; Activate!, the Steve Biko Foundation, Cheesekids and Princess Alice Adoption Home. An example of an organisation that has used the programme successfully is AIESEC with their ‘Travel to Impact’ campaign. Google Ad Grants helped them expand their student registrations to 10 new universities, acquire 1200 new student registrations, reach out to students outside their physical location and establish a strong online presence. Live SA has also just joined the Google Ad Grants programme.

For more details about Google Ad Grants and whether you qualify, visit

Follow Anuschka on Twitter @nushtush

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Digify is an innovative training journey developed by Livity Africa, with support from Google and IAB SA, aiming to create the next generation of job-ready digital upstarts. Meet our first Digify crew based in Johannesburg. For more updatesm visit or follow us on Twitter @livityafrica #digifyza.

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