May 6, 2020 - Technology

Exclusive: Google.org doubles COVID-19 donations to $100 million

Google.org granted $5 million to Opportunity Finance Network, which provides capital for underserved SMBs.
Google.org granted $5 million to Opportunity Finance Network, which provides capital for underserved small and midsize businesses. Photo: Opportunity Finance Network.

Google's philanthropic arm is doubling its planned coronavirus response donations to a total of $100 million, Google.org head Jacquelline Fuller told Axios.

Why it matters: The effort is in addition to coronavirus-related moves by the corporate side and, in some cases, also comes with hands-on technical support from Google employees to help organizations with the technical aspects of their efforts.

In an interview, Fuller acknowledged that "there's an overwhelming need."

Overall, she said, Google.org is doling out about $1 billion over five years and looks for places where it can truly make a difference and for partnerships with organizations that can make its dollars go further, Fuller said.

With COVID-19, that's meant a range of actions:

  • Cash grants for those most in need, through GiveDirectly.
  • Working with organizations, such as Opportunity Finance Network, that help women-led and minority-led businesses that may have more challenges getting traditional funding.
  • Support for distance learning efforts, especially those that work in languages other than English, as more than 1 billion students around the world are out of school due to the pandemic.

Google.org has already given out $50 million in grants, with $25 million going toward economic relief and recovery, $15 million to health and science and $10 million to distance learning projects. Google.org is now pledging a further $50 million, as well as 50,000 hours from Google employees to help with coronavirus-specific efforts.Y

es, but: Some have criticized Google for not opening its purse strings further. With the cash grants, for example, the company donated a portion of the target amount, relying on donations from Google employees and others to reach its goal.

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