Why (Almost) Every Nonprofit Should Be Using Google Ad Grants

How much would $10,000 a month in advertising change the game for your nonprofit? 

No, really. What would happen if 100 Benjamin Franklins were pumped into your online presence every month? Would it be transformative for your organization? For most of you, the answer is simple: absolutely! If you’re a nonprofit, chances are you’re eligible to find out through Google Ad Grants. 

 Already have a Google Ad Grant but need help using it successfully? Read “You Have a Google Grant—Now What? A Guide for Nonprofits.”


What are Google Ad Grants? 

The Google Ad Grants program is like Google AdWords, but for nonprofits. More than that, it’s a grant from Google to your nonprofit designed to bolster your online presence—driving engagement, donations, and awareness of your mission. Over 20,000 nonprofit organizations in over 50 countries are currently using Google Grants to increase visibility, and yours could be the next! 


Is your nonprofit eligible? 

Google Ad Grants for nonprofits is part of the Google for Nonprofits program. To start taking advantage of this amazing opportunity, you’ll need to: 

  • Apply to Google for Nonprofits. 
  • Ensure that you hold valid charity status. See the Google For Nonprofits website for definitions of charity status. 
  • Agree to Google’s required certifications regarding nondiscrimination and donation receipt and use. 
  • Ensure that you have a live website with substantial content. 

 Important note: Government agencies, hospitals, schools, and academic institutions are not eligible for Google for Nonprofits. Philanthropic arms of educational institutions are eligible. 


Program Details for Google Ad Grants for Nonprofits 

Google Ads is Google’s targeted pay-per-click (PPC) advertising product. When you search using Google, Google Ads advertisements are the first search results atop the page, usually with a small, green “Ad” icon next to them. 

Here’s how the Google Ad Grants program for nonprofits works: 

  • You’ll have a set monthly budget of $10,000 (or $329 daily). 
  • You are limited to a $2 maximum cost-per-click (CPC). 
  • You are not eligible to appear on search partners or the display network. 
  • Your ad will only appear on Google.com, which means text ads are the only available format. 
  • If you don’t use the $10,000 monthly budget, you lose it. Your budget does not carry over month after month. 

Learn more about the Google Ad Grants program on our recently-updated Insider’s Guide to Google Ad Grants, including how to structure your Google Ads account and track your ads in Google Analytics. 


Free advertising? What’s the catch? 

Does this all feel too good to be true? I mean, come on. Free ad campaigns? Online advertising at no cost to your nonprofit organization? Why isn’t everyone doing this? Technically, there is no catch. If you’re eligible you can cash in at any time! However, earning Google Grants does come with a dose of reality for your organization. What you earn in advertising dollars, you spend in time. 

Digital advertising is time-consuming. There’s the work that goes in on the front end to get a successful ad campaign off the ground, and just as much work in monitoring and maintaining those ads after the fact. A small nonprofit should be prepared to devote a big chunk of time upfront to do keyword research and set up ads. From there, you’re looking at an hour or two a week minimum for maintenance. We work with plenty of small and scrappy nonprofit marketing teams to know that’s not feasible for everyone. 

If you don’t have the resources to execute on these ad campaigns, you should consider hiring someone to do it. There’s no point in doing a half-baked job yourself. Chances are if you don’t have the time to commit to building your ads, they won’t be strong, which is bad for business (and maybe worse than doing nothing at all!). So while Google Ad Grants are free, you may have to pay someone to help you maintain them. 

Keep in mind that one of the requirements for your ad campaign is that it must link to a landing page. Does your organization already have high-quality landing pages built out? Remember: These are real people performing Google searches, clicking your ad, and going somewhere. If the user feels lost, angry, or frustrated—that’s a reflection on your brand. 

There are also a few baseline success metrics that must be maintained. If not, funding is cut off. A few of those metrics include: 

  • A 5% click-through rate (CTR) on your ads every month 
  • No keywords with a quality score of 1 or 2 (you can check this in your Google Ad Grants account) 
  • Valid conversion tracking, where applicable (and at least one conversion per month) 

There are also some requirements for your account structure. For example, you must have at least two ads per ad group, two ad groups per campaign, and at least two sitelink ad extensions (or simply put, each ad must have multiple opportunities for the user to click on your ad and land somewhere on your site). 

These are just more reasons why dedicating anything less than 100% to your ad campaigns won’t fly. Ultimately, you may be wasting your resources—and that’s not a position any nonprofit organization wants to be in. 

The bottom line is, Google Ad Grants has benefited thousands of nonprofits through increased awareness and fundraising, including some of our own clients. We’re a big fan! But we’re an even bigger fan of making sure your organization sees the success it deserves. 


Want to learn more? Our Complete 2020 Guide to Google Ad Grants, written by Mighty Citizen’s Google-certified experts, is free to download.