The Houston Food Bank

The Houston Food Bank sees a 12x increase in donations using Google Ad Grants during disaster relief.

Marketing goals

  • Drive donations for disaster relief
  • Generate awareness for increased demand
  • Recruit volunteers

Success Metrics








The Houston Food Bank is a solution to both hunger and food waste, distributing 122 million nutritious meals through its network of 1,500 community partners in southeast Texas, and feeding 800,000 individuals each year.

The Challenge

In 2017, the flooding caused by Hurricane Harvey resulted in mass evacuations, and many found themselves in need of water, food, clothing and other nonperishable essentials. The Houston Food Bank distributed these items to shelters in Houston and surrounding areas to assist in disaster relief. Due to the sudden increased demand for food assistance, the organisation needed to generate awareness for their services, raise funds and recruit volunteers quickly.

The Approach

The Houston Food Bank was advised by RKD Group, a fundraising and marketing agency, to rapidly optimise their Ad Grants account, to capture the increased search interest surrounding food needs, donations and volunteer opportunities related to the hurricane. Optimisation strategies included updating the branded ad copy, creating a Hurricane Harvey specific campaign and implementing sitelinks. Conversion tracking data allowed the organisation to understand the direct impact of their Google Ads in disaster relief efforts.

The Results

The Ad Grants account efficiently generated awareness, and connected those displaced by the hurricane with the organisation's resources under urgent circumstances. Overall, donations driven by Google Ads increased 1,211% and calls to the organisation increased by 187% compared to the same month the previous year. The updated ad copy in the branded campaign resulted in an increase of 1067% in conversions, successfully capturing the increase in brand traffic due to the news coverage of the organisation’s relief efforts. Conversions driven by Google Ads focused on recruiting volunteers saw an increase of 500%. Overall, conversions across all campaigns increased 741%. Implementing optimisation strategies to maximise the impact of Google Ads during the disaster was critical to driving donations, recruiting volunteers and raising awareness quickly.

'RKD Group’s work on our Google Ad Grants account during Hurricane Harvey allowed us to reach people who were hurting in our community, and reach those who wanted to help rebuild our community. Google Ads were critical to driving impact for disaster relief efforts.'
Adele Brady, Director of Communications, The Houston Food Bank