Google Ad Grants Overview and Tips


What if you had $10,000 a month to spend on AdWords, Google’s online advertising platform? Could you find more donors? Solicit more volunteers? Drive more traffic to your website? Would that make a difference in how you budget each year?

One of the biggest struggles a nonprofit organization can face is how much to budget for advertising. The day-to-day expenses of running a charity or philanthropy often push marketing efforts to the back burner, making it a struggle to spread the word about your cause.

But what if you had $10,000 a month to spend on AdWords, Google’s online advertising platform? Could you find more donors? Solicit more volunteers? Drive more traffic to your website? Would that make a difference in how you budget each year?

While the larger GrantsPro program is on hiatus, Google still allows approved 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations to utilize up to $10,000 per month in AdWords advertising as part of their regular Google For Nonprofits program. As of June 2010, Google had awarded over $600 million in grant money to nonprofit organizations, making it one of strongest supporters of nonprofits out there, and your organization can easily take part. Below are the basic requirements:

Google Grant Requirements

  • Be an eligible 501(c)(3) registered nonprofit
  • Apply for a Google for Nonprofits account
  • Create an Ad Grants account
  • Create a Google AdWords account
  • Submit them for review

Once you’ve completed these steps (and be patient – it can take up to four months to get a reply) and you are approved, you can build your campaign as you would for any business, using relevant keywords that will trigger your ad to appear on Google’s search results page. Below are some of our favorite tips, tricks and things to remember when working with a Google Grant account.

Google Grant Tips

  • Whatever email you use to sign up with, make sure it’s not unique to a single user – with volunteer turnover being common, something like will allow another authorized user to access the account if changes need to be made.
  • Your may only run text ads on the Search Network. If you would like to run ads on the Display network, you would need to set up a separate AdWords account and fund it yourself.
  • Keep in mind that you have a maximum bid of $2.00 per keyword, and a maximum budget of $329.00/day. By choosing your keywords wisely, you’ll be able to stretch your budget and get a better click-through-rate.
  • As of January 2018, click-thru-rate is crucial to monitor, as all Ad Grants accounts must maintain at least a 5% CTR, or run the risk of having the account canceled.
  • Also as of the January 2018 update, account structure must also meet certain guidelines, by utilizing geo-targeting relevant to your non-profit, as well as a minimum number of ad groups, ads and sitelink extensions per campaign.
  • Keywords must be relevant – if your charity works with rescue dogs, don’t use keywords that are unrelated (like “basket weaving”) just to get traffic.
  • Ads can only go to the pre-approved website, so you won’t be able to send traffic to a partner organization or supporter. (Feel free to set up a landing page for them on your domain, though!)
  • Consider your audience and write ads that appeal to them, and make sure your landing pages speak to your mission, with clear calls to action (donate/volunteer/sign up/etc).
  • To promote goods or services, all of the proceeds must go to your nonprofit programs. You may not promote financial services – even if your nonprofit offers free tax preparation as part of its services.
  • Accounts must be accessed and maintained monthly – this means making some changes on a regular basis to show that there is active attention being paid to the account.
  • If you’re a local charity, make sure you have a Google My Business account set up to take advantage of location extensions.
  • If you don’t have Google Analytics set up on your account, this would be the perfect time to do so, as it will help you discover more about the traffic you’re attracting and if it’s relevant to your cause. By setting up goals and conversion tracking on your site, you can accurately judge results.

The Google Grant program is not a set-it-and-forget-it option; you’ll need to have someone manage it who has an understanding of pay-per-click advertising in order to ensure success. But with the right person, your nonprofit can spend much less money on advertising, and dedicate those funds to the core cause that really matters.

To learn more about how we help non-profits work with Google Grant program, contact us today.

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