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Tech giant rebuffs DEC appeal for help

This news post is about 9 years old

The ​Disasters Emergency Committee is spending millions in advertising with Google - but would like to reach a cash saving agreement with it instead

The Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC) has been rebuffed by tech giant Google in its bid to work together to raise cash to help some of the world’s most desperate people.

It is understood that the umbrella group – which represents 13 major aid agencies and charities – has asked the search engine company if it could publish appeals on its UK websites or strike a deal to reduce its advertising costs, but each time it has been declined.

The DEC spent £1.5 million on advertising through Google during its appeal for those affected by Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines in 2013 and a similar amount was also spent during the recent appeal following the Nepal earthquakes.

A DEC spokesman said this was good value for money as the Typhoon Haiyan appeal brought in £90m.

The cash was spent on Google AdWords, which works by charging groups to display their advert in the ads section of the Google search.

The DEC always seeks to raise the largest possible income for the lowest cost, so we would be delighted to have Google as a partner

Advertisers only have to pay when someone clicks on the link, but during a major DEC appeal this can happen hundreds of thousands of times, hiking up costs.

Google does provide free advertising to the DEC through a grant scheme where charities can have up to £6,800 worth of AdWords clicks for free.

But this is a tiny amount compared to the clicks generated during a DEC appeal.

During the Philippines appeal, the DEC spent 4.6 per cent of the funds raised, approximately £4.14m, on advertising, fundraising and communications.

Figures for the Nepal appeal have not yet been released.

The spokesman said attempts to come to an agreement with Google had so far foundered, and added: "The DEC always seeks to raise the largest possible income for the lowest possible cost, so we would of course be delighted to have Google as a partner as we seek to achieve this.

"We are usually at the top of the organic search results for the terms we advertise against so we are paying Google for our adverts to appear above our own organic results."

A spokeswoman for Google said: "We’re committed to supporting disaster relief agencies in as many ways as we can. The Google Crisis Response team provides online tools, satellite imagery and other services to ensure critical information is easily accessible in emergencies.

"We also provide advertising grants to tens of thousands of charities to help them raise awareness and funds, and in the last year alone we’ve donated tens of millions of dollars to non-profits in response to disaster situations."

She added that Google has had partnerships with charities such as Médecins Sans Frontières and Save the Children and in the past year had provided more than $21m to non-profits in response to global disasters such as the earthquake in Nepal and the Ebola crisis.

The company has given more than £20m to UK charities through programmes such as Google for Nonprofits – recently launched in Scotland - and The Impact Challenge, which encourages the use of new technology.