The Beginner’s Guide to Google Ad Grants | 2024 Updated
Google Ad Grants offers nonprofits up to $10,000 in ads per month. This virtually free advertising can help nonprofits acquire website visitors while furthering their organization’s impact. Google Ad Grants also has a simple application process. We’ve pulled together all the basics to help set up your Google Ad Grants account and get the most out of the program.
Long gone are the days when direct mail and door-to-door were sufficient to get the word out about an organization. The reality of nonprofit advertising today is far more complex. Nonprofits can’t bring in the funds needed to fuel their important work without it.
However, having an extra budget for advertising expenses is oftentimes out of reach for many nonprofits. This is where the Google Ad Grants program comes in. For many organizations, Google Ad Grants for nonprofits serve as a strong foundation for advertising. The virtually free advertising that the program offers can help your nonprofit acquire website users while furthering your organization’s impact. Unlike most grants, Google Ad Grants also has a very simple application process.
Every nonprofit has unique goals. Whether you are trying to build awareness, recruit volunteers, attract new donors, or increase donations, Google Ad Grants can help you achieve them.
We’ve put all the basics together here in our guide to Google Ad Grant management for nonprofits. We hope it will help you set up your Google Ad Grants account and get the most out of all that the program has to offer.
Google Ad Grants Webinar
Check out this webinar on Google Ad Grants with Nonprofit Megaphone. It’s a must-watch for all Nonprofits who want to capitalize on Google Ad Grants!
What are Google Ad Grants?
Google Ad Grants offer eligible nonprofits $10,000 each month (daily limit of $329 USD) to spend on Google search ads. The goal of these ads is to increase the number of targeted visitors to your website every year. Let’s see how Google defines its Ad Grants program:
“Google Ad Grants provides up to $10,000 USD per month of free Google Ads advertising on Google search result pages to eligible nonprofit organizations. The program is designed to help people connect with causes to make a greater impact on the world. The program is open to organizations who join Google for Nonprofits, meet Ad Grants’ eligibility and program policies, and are approved through the Ad Grants pre-qualification process.”
As mentioned in Google’s definition, the first and foremost requirement for getting the grant is to join Google for Nonprofits.
Google for Nonprofits – Must-Have for Google Ad Grants
Your eligibility for Google for Nonprofits is a must to ensure you get the Google Ad Grants. With Google for Nonprofits, nonprofits get to leverage Google’s technology to make a difference in the world. You get access to the following resources with Google for Nonprofits:
An organization won’t be eligible if it is a governmental entity or organization, hospital or healthcare organization, school, academic institution, or a university.
Who’s Eligible for Google Ad Grants?
To be eligible for Google Ad Grants, an organization must:
Hold current and valid charity status in your country (for example, in the U.S. you must have a current 501(c)(3) status). Not in the U.S.? Check your country’s definition of charity status.
Acknowledge and agree to Google Grant’s required terms regarding how to receive and use donations obtained from the grant.
Have a website that is both functioning and provides adequate detail on your nonprofit.
The following organizations are not eligible for Google Ad Grants:
Governmental entities and organizations
Hospitals and medical groups
Schools, childcare centers, academic institutions, and universities
How to Apply for Google Ad Grants
You can apply for Google Ad Grants on the respective Google website page by logging in with your nonprofit account. Here are the specific steps you need to follow –
Once you’re registered with your own Google for Nonprofits account, you’ll need to sign in with the same credentials you used to register.
From your Google for Nonprofits account, click “Activate Products,” then “Get Started” under Google Ad Grants.
You’ll then need to supply further information to confirm your eligibility for Google Ad Grants. This will include a link to your website and more information about how you intend to use the Ad Grants.
Once you’ve completed those steps, click “Activate.”
That’s all! Once your activation is approved, you can start building your first ad campaign.
Learn more about launching your first ad campaign in this video series.
Website Requirements for Google Ad Grants
In order for your activation to get approved, your website will need the following features:
You must own the domain users land on when they click your ad.
Your website must be “high quality.” This means it must have a detailed description of your mission and activities. It should also have updated events and information, clear calls to action, and substantial content to create a great user experience.
Your website should load quickly, contain no broken links, and have an HTTPS security certificate.
Commercial activity cannot be the goal of your website. You’re allowed to have limited commercial activities, but you must describe how they support your mission (i.e. you sell products to increase your fundraising). You must show how you use these funds on your website, which can be accomplished through your annual report.
Any advertising on your website must be relevant to your mission. You cannot include any Google AdSense ads on your website.
You can find more information about these requirements here.
7 Best Practices to Ensure You Make the Most of Google Ad Grants
Here’s how to make sure your grant maintains compliance and you get the most out of your advertising credit.
1. Nail the keywords
It’s important to get the keywords right both in your account and for your ads. Don’t waste your time on broad keywords like “donation,” “nonprofits,” or “San Francisco.” If you do, it’s likely that your ad won’t be shown since there are already huge organizations and other companies that are bidding on that same keyword.
Also, shift the focus from quantity to quality. Use long-tail keywords in your Google Ad Grants strategy. The more specific you get, the more likely your ad will be seen.
Find your keywords by brainstorming a list of topics that are important to your organization. These can be anything: problems that your nonprofit is tackling, communities that you serve, issues you stand for, or services that you offer. Conduct data-driven keyword research. Take one of your keywords and enter it into Google’s Keyword Planner.
From there, create a list of keywords that are relevant to each topic (eventually, you’ll commit to focusing on one keyword per topic). Your keyword research should involve SEO tools, conversations with customers, and data from your web analytics software.
Focusing on these longer, more nuanced keywords can help you rise to the top of a specific market.
Use the keyword in your URL. Example: www.website.org/animals/volunteer-at-shelter
Place the keyword in the page title (H1).
Use the keyword in the body of the text. Focus on 1 keyword as your article’s main theme, then include two to four other relevant keywords.
Use keywords in the meta description.
Rename image file names (alt) to reflect the keyword.
2. Work out the “negative keywords”
Simply put, negative keywords are the keywords for which you don’t want your nonprofit ad to be displayed. They are the exact opposite of keywords. Using them allows you to eliminate the searches from people who aren’t looking for your organization or your programs and services.
Find related search terms and add them to the “negative keyword” list. Go to “search terms” and look for searches that are driving traffic to your site, but aren’t actually related to your content.
When the relevance of your ads is improved, your audience will find them more interesting. This means that there will be fewer wasted impressions on your ads. That translates into higher conversion rates and click-through (CTR) rates. When your CTR increases, your Quality Score for your account will also improve.
3. Pay attention to campaigns and ad groups
Organize your keywords into general categories. A helpful rule to follow is that all of the ad groups within a campaign should lead to the same landing page. This will create a more relevant customer journey for your audience.
An ad group in Google Ads contains one or more ads that all share a set of keywords. This is in between a campaign and an individual ad. At the ad group level, you can set up:
Demographics of your target audience including age, gender, parental status, or household income
Where you want your ads to show at the ad-set level through keywords, topics, and placements
Each ad group carries its own bid, which is the highest amount you’re willing to pay to get the ads within that ad group served. For search network campaigns, this number would be your maximum cost-per-click or Maximum CPC. Note that the overall budget, bidding strategy, geotargeting, and start and end dates are all set at the campaign level, not the ad group level.
4. Get those landing pages right
The messaging and objective of your landing page must match the keyword and ad copy. In other words: it must accurately reflect what is promised in your ad. Ensure your landing pages are fast, functional, and relevant. Constantly test your ad copy to improve your expected click-through rates.
Also, don’t drive all your traffic to your home page. To get the highest Quality Score possible from Google Ads, make sure the landing page assigned to your keyword is pulled from the most relevant option on your site. If you don’t have them, build them. Your headline is what your audience will see first. Optimize this by including your target keyword, and specific numbers where possible.
Building out your website landing pages for specific keywords benefits SEO as well. Search engines like seeing new, content-rich pages added to your site.
You should be sending people to the best pages on your site, based on what your ads promise them. Do you want people to go to a donation page, an event page, a volunteer page, or a newsletter sign-up page? Deliver on your promise and send visitors to specific pages based on the keywords used.
On your landing page:
Have a clear and compelling title and your logo.
Have one strong call to action (CTA).
Speak directly to the people who will click your ads.
For example, if you work with families in Atlanta there’s no sense in serving ads to searchers in New York. If you’re a large international nonprofit, you might benefit from targeting entire countries. Consider using more precise targeting if your nonprofit doesn’t run programs in all regions or cities, or if you’d like to focus your advertising efforts on certain areas within a country.
Target radius around a location if you’re locally based and your beneficiaries and supporters’ base is in a radius around your location.
6. Focus on Conversions
Google Ads pushes more toward higher conversion rates – focusing on driving high-quality traffic to your website, rather than just driving a high quantity. Whatever your CTA (Call to Action) is – donation, newsletter sign-up, volunteer application – Google wants you to take advantage of more bidding strategies like Target CPA, Maximize Conversions, and Enhanced CPC to optimize for conversions.
Together with your team, pin down which calls to action are the most effective at driving a visitor to act.
Pro tip: Don’t forget to set up conversion tracking. By utilizing conversion tracking in Google Ads, you’ll be able to see and measure the visitor’s journey from the moment they click on your ad to when they complete an action on-site, such as signing up for your newsletter or donating.
7. Measure, analyze, repeat
Great campaigns are built on clear data, so it’s important to know how to analyze the results of your advertising efforts effectively. Link your Google Ads account to Google Analytics so you can analyze which campaigns and keywords are performing the best.
Pause or remove any irrelevant keywords that are overspending. Replace paused keywords with new ones. Pause, decrease bids for, or remove any keywords that have lots of cost or clicks, but no conversions. In Google Ads, look at Search Terms and add relevant or high-performers (high CTR or conversions) as keywords.
Since Grant requirements mean you must have at least two ads per ad group, this allows you to test ad copy. Over time, you can determine which ad has the best CTR. You can then choose to replace the lesser-performing ad.
Constantly measure and evaluate the success of your campaigns and ads and change them as needed. Furthermore, conduct an account audit every six months to ensure that it is still structurally sound and performing.
Most nonprofits simply can’t compete in the crowded marketplaces of social media and digital advertising. Google Ad Grants are helping thousands of organizations reclaim their spot in the front of users’ minds. The grants have been helping nonprofits get an equal playing field in the online dialogue for over a decade.
Google Ad Grants are the most effective way to serve targeted ads to your organization’s most important audiences, increase your organization’s reach by getting new visitors to sign up for your emails, increase donations and product sales, and raise awareness about your nonprofit by sending new visitors to your website each month.
If you run into something you don’t understand, Google has free helpful resources that can help you get back on track.
At Donorbox, we strive to make your nonprofit experience as productive as possible, whether through our online fundraising solution, advanced fundraising features, premium solutions, donor management, or tips and resources in our Nonprofit Blog.
Ilma Ibrisevic is a content creator and nonprofit writer. She’s passionate about meaningful work, sustainability, and social movements. If she’s not working, she’s obsessing over coffee or cooking. You can connect with her on Linkedin.