Humanitarian Coalition Pledges Restraint on Google AdWords | Humanitarian Coalition

Humanitarian Coalition Pledges Restraint on Google AdWords

May 7, 2015

As part of its joint appeal for survivors of the Nepal earthquake, the Humanitarian Coalition today announces that it has refrained from engaging in overbidding on Google AdWords. We hereby pledge to cap our bids on Google AdWords at an amount that will not exceed $5.00 per click for the duration of the current appeal and beyond.

Based on our founding principle of collaboration among peer agencies, we reject competition during emergency appeals and invite our peers in Canada’s humanitarian sector to take the same pledge and limit their AdWords bidding.


What is Google AdWords? Global search engine Google offers a wide range of online services to companies, charitable organizations, and individuals. Some are free (Gmail, People Finder, Google Grants, etc.), others, such as Google AdWords, have to be purchased.

How the Google AdWords program works: On a very basic level, the program operates much like an auction. The price of any given word rises proportionally to the number of bids it receives. During humanitarian emergencies, many groups rush to bid on selected keywords for their organization’s name to be associated with them and therefore appear in search results when online users put those keywords in a search engine. Most users may not be aware of this, but clicking on an AdWord translates into a payment to Google for the organization whose name is clicked. The practice is called pay-per-click (PPC).

Why organizations use Google AdWords: The advent of the Internet in the nineties, with its rapidly spreading reach, and exponentially growing capacity to connect people, places, and ideas, has caused a dramatic shift in how people access information. As a result, advertising deserted the classified sections of traditional newspapers and moved online. The lost revenues in turn drove an unprecedented and sustained decline in newspaper circulation. In short, online is where individuals, corporations, organizations, and groups of all kinds go to find each other and engage.

Google AdWords and the Nepal Crisis: Since a magnitude 7.8 earthquake hit Nepal on April 25th, humanitarian organizations around the world have been bidding on keywords such as ‘Nepal earthquake’, ‘Nepal emergency’, ‘Nepal help’ and the likes so that their name would appear in the search results and people would know they are accepting donations for relief efforts. Within a few days of the disaster, we observed that some Nepal-related keywords were going for as much as $26 dollars. That is, an organization paying that price would be at or near the top of search results, by being charged that amount for every click on its ad.

The Humanitarian Coalition’s Position on Google AdWords: As an umbrella group representing five major humanitarian agencies active in Nepal, we recognize our responsibility to inform Canadians about the urgent needs of survivors. We also have an obligation to our members to explain the nature and scale of their respective responses to the public. Finally, we are committed to helping the people of Nepal by raising funds to support the programs being implemented to assist them. All this means that we must ensure that Canadians are aware of the Humanitarian Coalition’s joint appeal. One of the best vehicle for doing this is Google AdWords.

The Humanitarian Coalition’s Fundraising Model: It is very simple. When a major disaster strikes, instead of competing with each other, our member agencies come together to launch a joint appeal. The funds raised are allocated to them according to a pre-established formula that takes into account respective areas of expertise and response capacity on the ground. As this country’s only joint fundraising mechanism for international disasters, we are dedicated to reducing the duplication of costs and ensuring that the largest percentage of donations is used to help those in need.

For more information on how the Humanitarian Coalition operates, go to:


For more information:
Marg Buchanan
Communications Advisor
Humanitarian Coalition
marg.buchanan at

The Humanitarian Coalition is Canada’s only joint appeal response for international disasters and emergencies. It is made up of 7 leading humanitarian agencies: Canadian Lutheran World Relief, CARE Canada, Islamic Relief Canada, Oxfam Canada, Oxfam-Québec, Plan International Canada and Save the Children Canada. Collectively, they are present in more than 150 countries. Together, saving more lives.