Is the Google Ad Grant Right For Your Nonprofit?

August 4, 2020

12 mins

We love partnering with passionate people who are making a difference in the world and helping our nonprofit clients find creative ways to maximize their marketing activities. Our nonprofit clients range from churches and private schools to humanitarian and conservation organizations.

These nonprofits often have questions about getting the most out of their marketing dollars, like “how can we increase our website traffic on a budget?” And while not all nonprofits are created equal, we bet that all of them would like the chance to add more money to their marketing budgets! 

One way nonprofits can drum up more dollars for advertising is through the Google Ad Grants program. Google Ad Grants give nonprofit organizations the opportunity to apply for grants totaling $10,000 per month in free Google advertising. This means that qualifying nonprofits can leverage opportunities to promote their work on Google for a fraction of the cost, and in many cases, for free. 

We want to help nonprofits understand how Google Ads work and determine whether or not a Google Ads Grant would be a good choice for your organization. This post could get a bit technical, so lets cover a few terms before we dive in: 

  • SERP: Search Engine Results Page. This is the page that appears after you type in a query on Google. 
  • PPC: Pay-Per-Click advertising. This means that you’re only charged when a searcher clicks on the ad. Google calls their pay-per-click functionality Google Ads. Google Ads always appear at the top of the SERP. 
  • SEO: Search Engine Optimization. This applies to a specific strategy to create website content that Google recognizes as meaningful and relevant and results in a higher placement on the Google SERP. Organic results always appear below the paid ads. 
  • Google Ads: A paid advertising opportunity to get top placement on Google’s SERP by bidding on specific keywords. 

What’s a Google Ad and Why Would a Nonprofit Need a Grant?

In order to understand how Google Ad Grants work, it’s important to first understand how Google Ads work. Google Ads is Google’s version of PPC advertising that gives businesses and organizations the opportunity to bid for the top spot on the search engine results page (SERP). Anytime you run a query on Google, you’ll see two different kinds of results: paid results and organic results. The paid results are always at the top and are based on how much money a company is willing to spend on specific keywords. The organic search results appear below the paid results and are ranked by Google based on an ever-evolving set of terms. Notice in the image below, the search term is “child sponsorship programs” and the first 4 results are Ads.

Organic results are very difficult to manipulate and require intentional search engine optimization (SEO) to be successful. On the other hand, it’s much easier to achieve top placement on the SERP if you’re paying to be there. But most nonprofits don’t have unlimited budgets to bid on popular words. Recognizing this, Google offers nonprofits the chance to qualify for $10,000 a month in Google Ads. This generous opportunity can give nonprofits a headstart in getting their message in front of the right people. 

Are there Eligibility Requirements for Google Ad Grants? 

Google requires each nonprofit wishing to make use of Google Ad Grants to meet a certain set of criteria and maintain that benchmark for the duration of the grant. The first requirement is that your nonprofit be based in one of the following countries:

Next you must apply for a Google for Nonprofits account. This is similar to a Google My Business account, but designed with tools and resources relevant to the needs of nonprofits. Again, you must meet a specific level of eligibility to qualify and be formally registered and in good standing with the country within which your nonprofit is based. Please note that governments, medical organizations, schools, academic institutions, and universities are not eligible for Google for Nonprofits, however philanthropic arms of educational institutions are eligible.

Once your organization has an approved Google for Nonprofits account, you can then apply for the Google Ad Grant from within that console. At this point, Google will evaluate your website to see if it meets a certain quality standard. Some of the things Google will look for include: 

  • Website security, load-time, clean code, and broken links  
  • Quantity and quality of useful and meaningful content
  • Limited commercial activity including the use of ads on your website 

When Google approves your account, you then must maintain eligibility by keeping the account active. You’ll need to abide by rules such asrunning ad campaigns that are relevant to the content on your website and not selecting your competitor’s name as a keyword. After you’re approved for the grant, Google makes it very easy to ensure that you remain in compliance and make the best use of the resources they’re providing. 

Is the Google Ad Grant Right For You?

If you’re able to keep your account active and have the manpower to manage it, we see no reason why your nonprofit shouldn’t pursue a Google Ad Grant. The most important thing to remember is that Google is going to monitor whether or not you’re actually using the grant. If your account is inactive they will pull the money and discontinue the service. So before you do the work of applying for the grant, make sure that you have a plan in place to actually use the services provided. This will take some time to set up, learn, and maintain. You may want to consider putting some of those marketing dollars you saved toward hiring someone to manage your ad grants for you. 

Got Questions? Give us a Call! 

There is a lot of highly technical information involved in understanding Google Ads and applying for grants, but you don’t have to do it alone. If you have questions or want help navigating the process, please give us a call. We would love to help you evaluate whether or not this opportunity would benefit your organization. If you want to learn more about other PPC or SEO opportunities we can talk about that, too. Let’s schedule a time to meet and discuss how to make the most of your nonprofit marketing budget! 


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Cross & Crown is a team of creatives who are passionate about solving problems through design and technology, taking what is there and making it better. Based in Chambersburg, PA, we strive to help educate, advocate, and thrive in a digital world.

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