Free Google Ad Money For Nonprofits

The Google Ad Grant Program

Imagine walking into a casino and the manager coming up to you and offering you $10,000 cash. He says you can use it however you want as long as you use it in his casino. How could you say no?

Well that’s what Google is offering nonprofits. They aren’t giving free casino handouts, but they are offering charities, nonprofits, and 501c3’s $10,000 of in-kind advertising every month in Google’s online advertising platform, Google Ads.

Google Ad Grants originated from Google’s co-founders, Larry Page and Sergey Brin, in April 2003. Their core desire was to “extend Google Grants to as many organizations as possible—to share [Google’s] philosophy of community service to help the world.” 

With that said, here are 5 things to know about the Google Ad Grant.

#1. The Google Ad Grant Helps People Find Nonprofits

In short, the purpose of Google Ads is to help nonprofit organizations reach audiences that are interested in the products or services they offer. When someone performs a search that is relevant to a product or service, an ad will be shown in a highly visible page position. This provides an individual the ability to go straight to the website, regardless of where they rank organically. 

To the right is an example of three different nonprofit ads that were shown for the search “earthquake relief” (ads are signified by the green “Ad” box under the headline). It is likely that the individual searching for this phrase has intent on finding a way that they can get involved with earthquake relief efforts. You can see that even though the American Red Cross ranks at the top organically, World Vision has the first ad placement.

nonprofit using google ad grant

#2. The Grant Helps Nonprofits Achieve Their Goals

Many times, the listings shown at the top of the page are served by Google Ads, offering a result that the searcher is likely looking for. Let’s look at World Vision again for an example. 

If the searcher decides to click on their ad that was shown in the search results they would be immediately taken to the World Vision Disaster Relief Fund donation page (see the landing page below). Through digital marketing, via Google Ads, the searcher was connected to relevant content and World Vision was able to potentially get a donation. Both parties’ goals were accomplished. 

google ad grant landing page

Below are some additional conversions or goals that the Google Ad Grant can help your nonprofit achieve, depending on your organization’s needs:

  • Raise awareness for your cause – Reach supporters when they use Google Search. With Google Ad Grants, your ads can show up when people use keywords relevant to your nonprofit.
  • Drive more website views and activity – Drive online traffic to your website for fundraising, recruiting volunteers, and more. 
  • Track nonprofit marketing efforts – Combine Ad Grants with Google Analytics to measure and understand your organization’s marketing performance. 
  • Reach people who need your help – Make sure people searching for your organization on Google can find your nonprofit. 

#3. There Are Specific Qualifications For The Program

Google does have a few requirements for those that are interested in participating in the Google Ad Grant program:

  • You must be a registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit formed for charitable, educational, religious, literary, scientific, or other tax-exempt purposes. 
  • Your organization must acknowledge and agree to Google’s required certifications regarding nondiscrimination and donation receipt and use.
  • You must own the domain that users land on when they click your ad. 
  • Your organization must have a high-quality website that meets the Ad Grants website policy.
  • You must get approved through the pre-qualification process after your organization is enrolled in Google for Nonprofits.
nonprofit qualified for the google ad grant

#4. It Can Be Tricky To Stay Qualified

Staying qualified for the Google Ads Grant can get a little tricky, especially if you do not have an individual within your organization that is well versed in Google Ads. Google does require certain performance minimums from nonprofits that are in the Google Ad Grant program

  • Google Ad campaigns must maintain a 5% click-through-rate (CTR) each month at the account level. If the CTR isn’t met for two consecutive months, the nonprofits Google Ads account with be deactivated.
  • Your account must have meaningful conversion tracking set up, following tailored requirements intended to suit the needs of your nonprofit. Meaningful conversion goals include donations, purchases, ticket sales, membership registrations, email sign-ups, volunteer sign-ups, new membership form completions, petitions signed, quizzes completed, information request submissions, calls to your organization, or engagement with content on your website.  
  • Valid conversion tracking must be in place and you will need to accrue at least one conversion per month.
  • You must use conversion-based Smart bidding for all campaigns, unless using Smart campaigns. 
  • Each campaign must use either Maximize conversions, Maximize conversion values, Target CPA, or Target ROAS bidding. 
  • Keywords must have quality scores of 3 or higher.
  • Each AdWords campaign must include at least two ad groups with at least two ads running.
  • AdWords accounts also must have at least two sitelink extensions.
  • You must have geotargeting active within your account.

If you think the above sounds a little overwhelming, you are not alone. Google increased its performance requirements in January 2018. A large amount of nonprofits that were in the program for years lost their grant eligibility due to not being able to meet the new performance standards.

#5. Untitled Can Help

Untitled is experienced in maintaining and optimizing Google Ad campaigns. If you are interested in looking into the Google Ad Grant program, we can help you in a variety of ways:

untitled firm
  1. See if your nonprofit is eligible

  2. Apply for Google For Nonprofits

  3. Submit the Ad Grants pre-qualification form

  4. Create your account

  5. Run traffic, maintain and optimize your account on a monthly basis

We help nonprofits set up and run Google Ad Grant accounts so that they can show up when it matters most. If you are interested in discussing the Google Ad Grant program with us, reach out through the “Start With Untitled” page.

Katie Van Zant

Author Katie Van Zant

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