A Matter of Impact: September updates from Google.org

Jacquelline’s Corner

The pandemic laid bare existing inequalities across gender, race, class and country lines. And at the same time, other disasters — like hurricanes, wildfires and earthquakes — continue to affect people globally and strain already tight resources. To have the greatest impact, we rely on strong relationships with nonprofit organizations around the world that are working on disaster preparedness, relief and recovery — like the Center for Disaster Philanthropy and GiveDirectly, that you’ll hear more about below. We learn about their needs and search for where our philanthropic capital — coupled with technology, data and an eye toward equity — can help make the biggest difference.

But we’re also asking ourselves this: what if cities and organizations could predict disasters and be better prepared with resources before they even happen? With a changing climate, we know there’s more to do in advance of crises to mitigate loss of lives and livelihoods. That’s why we’re betting more and more on the role that technologies like AI and machine learning can play in generating the data we need to be better informed and prepared ahead of disasters.

Last year, our grantees provided 6.9 million people around the world with crisis relief support and resources for long term recovery. An additional 2.8 million people were better prepared with resources and supplies, and nearly three-quarters of our grantees are developing tools to improve the availability of information during a crisis. Together, we can ensure that those who are most vulnerable during a crisis are more protected — before, during and after it hits.

In case you missed it 

Kent Walker, Google SVP for Global Affairs, recently announced a $1.5M grant to The United Nations Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affair’s (UN OCHA) Centre for Humanitarian Data. The grant will go toward supporting their “Anticipatory Action” work that focuses on developing forecasting models to anticipate humanitarian crises and trigger earlier, smarter action before conditions worsen.

Hear from one of our grantees: Center for Disaster Philanthropy

Regine A. Webster is the founding executive director and vice president of the Center for Disaster Philanthropy (CDP), an organization that seeks to strengthen the ability of communities to withstand disasters and recover equitably when they occur. Since 2010, CDP has provided donors with timely and effective strategies to increase their disaster giving impact, and they work to amp up philanthropy’s game when it comes to disaster and humanitarian assistance giving.

A woman with a short bob haircut smiling at the camera.

Regine A. Webster, founding executive director and vice president of the Center for Disaster Philanthropy (CDP).

“In 2020 alone, with support from Google.org and other donors, the Center for Disaster Philanthropy (CDP) awarded $29.9 million to 173 organizations. These grants helped communities in 50 countries, including the entire United States and its territories, respond to COVID-19, hurricanes, typhoons, wildfires, flooding, earthquake, complex humanitarian emergencies and other disasters. The partnership we have with Google.org allows CDP to implement what we know to be effective disaster grantmaking around the globe. Perhaps more importantly though, philanthropic funding from Google.org and Googlers gives our expert team the freedom to test the way that race and power play themselves out in the disaster recovery context as we award grants to historically marginalized populations. We can test our assumptions on how to direct dollars to lift up Black, Indigenous and other communities of color and the organizations that serve them even in the face of disaster adversity, and how to work with disaster-serving organizations worldwide. We seek to inform the future of disaster philanthropy.”

A few words with a Google.org Fellow: GiveDirectly

Growing up in a family of community advocates, I developed both a strong sense of social justice and an interest in using my skills for the community. This made me excited to work with GiveDirectly for my Google.org Fellowship. GiveDirectly gives no-strings-attached cash to its recipients, empowering people to improve their lives.

A man standing in front of greenery, smiling at the camera.

Janak Ramakrishnan, is a software engineer and Google.org Fellow .

“The fellowship focused on expanding GiveDirectly’s work into a new sector: Americans affected by hurricanes. With climate change, hurricanes are becoming deadlier and more frequent. In their aftermath, aid organizations struggle to get help to affected areas; cash aid can be a great option in those cases. We worked with GiveDirectly to use Google’s expertise in big data and mapping, like Google Earth Engine, on this problem. Our project helped GiveDirectly quickly identify the most affected people right after a disaster hits, when every hour counts.”