Google Commits $800 Million, Mostly in Ad Credits, to Coronavirus Relief Efforts

Todd Spangler

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Google and parent Alphabet are pitching in to help small businesses, health organizations and governments dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic.

The internet company has earmarked more than $800 million for coronavirus relief, about three-fourths of which ($610 million) is in the form of Google Ad credits to small and midsize businesses and governmental orgs, Alphabet and Google CEO Sundar Pichai announced Friday.

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In addition, the company is working with supplier Magid Glove & Safety to produce face masks for health workers battling COVID-19, with the goal of providing 2 million-3 million in the coming weeks to the CDC Foundation, Pichai wrote in a blog post.

Google itself is expected to take a big hit because of the crisis: For 2020, the company’s total net revenue is projected to be about $127.5 billion, according to a Cowen & Co. report this week, down $28.6 billion versus Cowen’s prior estimate (an 18% decline).

But make no mistake, Alphabet has plenty of money to help with coronavirus relief, as well as weather the looming ad downturn. The company reported $119.7 billion in cash and equivalents on its books as of the end of 2019.

The company is making $340 million in Google Ads credits available to all small and midsize businesses (SMBs) that have been active advertisers since Jan. 1, 2019. According to the company, credit notifications will appear in eligible Google Ads accounts and can be used at any point until the end of 2020. (Google didn’t spell out how much in ad credits individual SMBs can expect to receive.)

Google also is extending $250 million in ad grants to the World Health Organization (WHO) and more than 100 government agencies worldwide, to assist efforts to publicize ways to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and other measures to help local communities. The internet giant is providing $20 million more in ad grants to community financial institutions and nongovernmental organizations, specifically to run public service announcements on relief funds and other resources for SMBs.

The company furthermore has set up a $200 million investment fund that will support NGOs and financial institutions globally to help provide small businesses with access to capital, in addition to the $15 million in cash grants Google.org is providing to nonprofits to help bridge budgetary gaps for SMBs.

Google has established a pool of $20 million in Google Cloud credits for academic institutions and researchers to use for studying potential therapies and vaccines, track data and identify new ways to combat COVID-19.

Finally, Google upped its annual gift-matching program for employees, from $7,500 to $10,000, so that employees can now donate up to $20,000 to local organizations, according to Pichai.

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