Google Ad Grants is a program sponsored by Google that provides select nonprofit organizations with $10,000 per month of free, in-kind advertising.
The program was launched with the goal to assist nonprofits in increasing awareness, attracting donors, and helping people across the globe. With the difficulty that many small nonprofits have in extending their reach, Google Ad Grants was designed to give a voice to those that might otherwise go unheard.
Since 2003, the program has provided roughly 115,000 organizations with more than $9 billion in free ad dollars. To date, Google Ad Grants works with organizations throughout more than 50 countries.
“Nonprofits play such a critical role in our communities, so naturally, we bring the best of Google to support them, offering products, people, and philanthropy.” —Michelle Hurtado, Global Head of Google Ad Grants, in an interview with AFP Global
How Does Google Ad Grants Work?
Google Ad Grants works in the same way as traditional Google Ads online advertising. When you launch a campaign, your message will be displayed in Google search results to those who are looking for nonprofits like yours.
However, there are some guidelines that nonprofits should keep in mind:
- No videos or images may be used in ads—only text.
- The purpose of each ad is to generate clicks, not awareness.
- Campaigns must be keyword targeted.
- The maximum CPC (cost per click) for manual bidding is $2.
- Ads appear only on Google search results pages, below paid ads.
How Do I Know If I Qualify for Google Ad Grants?
In order to be eligible to receive a grant, your organization must be based in one of 51 designated countries. Additionally, it must hold valid charity status according to your country’s requirements.
Government agencies, schools, hospitals, and similar entities are not eligible. However, philanthropic arms of educational institutions are eligible.
Note: For churches and ministries based in the United States, official recognition of 501(c)(3) tax exemption from the IRS must be obtained.
To qualify, your organization must also…
- Apply to Google for Nonprofits and verify nonprofit status
- Acknowledge and agree to Google’s required certifications regarding donation use and receipt
- Have a high-quality website that adheres to the program’s website policy
- Get approved through the pre-qualification process
What Do I Need to Have Set Up Before I Begin the Application Process?
Once you’ve determined that your organization meets the eligibility requirements for a grant, you should address the needs below before starting the application process.
1) A Google for Nonprofits Account
As mentioned previously, your organization must have a Google for Nonprofits account set up in order to qualify for a grant.
Chances are you have an account set up already. If not, it’s in your best interest to create one now and register your organization with TechSoup—the company Google uses to verify nonprofits.
2) Google Analytics
To help streamline the application process, make sure you have Google Analytics installed on your organization’s website.
You’ll need the program to set goals so you can track how potential donors, volunteers, and other visitors are interacting with your website after you’ve started advertising.
3) An SSL Certificate
One of the eligibility requirements for Ad Grants is a high-quality website that adheres to the program’s website policy. However, it’s worth highlighting that your organization’s website must have an SSL certificate to move forward.
How Do I Apply for Google Ad Grants?
There is a 2-part process to apply for Google Ad Grants.
After you’ve applied to Google for Nonprofits, verified your organization, and received access to your account, take the following actions:
- Create an Ad Grants account using the same user name as your Google for Nonprofits account.
- Submit the pre-qualification survey.
- Watch the Ad Grants training video and take the quiz.
- Submit your account for pre-qualification review.
Once you’ve received an email that your pre-qualification has been approved, follow the steps below:
- Set up conversion tracking.
- Create your first campaign.
- Set up ad groups with keywords.
- Submit your account for review.
Your account will then be reviewed to ensure that it complies with the program’s policies. You should receive an email within 10 business days. However, it may take longer depending on the current volume of applicants.
Note: The application process takes roughly 21 days in total (more if your organization has not been verified by TechSoup beforehand), so your team should plan accordingly and look for outside help if necessary.
Once I’ve Been Approved, What Will Happen Next and Where Will the Grant Money Go?
When your organization has been approved to participate in the program, the grant money will be applied to your account.
Note: If you’ve followed the activation guide to the letter, you will have skipped the billing section when you set up your account. If not (and you entered credit card information), you will be financially responsible for any charges.
Your daily budget for Google Ads will need to be set at $329, and you must adhere to the $2 CPC maximum for keywords (with the exception of some Smart Bidding strategies).
If you don’t spend the $10,000 you receive each month for advertising, the balance will not roll over to the following month. That’s why we encourage nonprofits to do thorough research on relevant keywords and advertising best practices prior to launching their campaigns.
Doing so will help you make the most of your ad budget.
What Do I Need to Do to Maintain My Qualifications for Google Ad Grants?
There are a few things you’ll need to do to keep your account in good standing.
- Continue to abide by program policies.
- Make sure that all ads link back to the approved URL.
- Log in to your account at least once every month.
- Ensure that ads reflect your organization’s mission.
Participating in the program also means you’re unable to do global targeting or use single-word keywords.
Other stipulations include making sure you’re not selling financial products, advertising for-profit products, or displaying ads from Google AdSense on your website.
Additionally, you must maintain an average CTR of at least 5% each month. This may seem difficult, but it simply means that you need a solid strategy in place for people to get engaged and click through.
What Can Receiving This Grant Money Do for My Nonprofit?
Participating in the Google Ad Grants program can provide a number of benefits for your organization, which is why we encourage our not-for-profit friends to take advantage of it.
With the grant money you receive, your nonprofit can…
- Develop a stronger online presence
- Encourage more volunteers to get involved
- Increase the amount of donations received
- Put funds currently allocated for ads toward other areas
- And more…
Ultimately, the program can have a tremendous impact on your organization—far beyond its monetary value.
If you’ve been looking for a better way to educate individuals about your organization, provide helpful resources, grow your staff, and increase funding for your cause, Google Ad Grants is definitely worth looking into.
Want some help getting approved for the program? Schedule a free consultation with Viral Solutions today!