Learn what your nonprofit can do to become eligible for Google Grants before applying.

Is Your Nonprofit Eligible for Google Grants? How to Apply

Did you know Google awards nonprofits with $10,000 in free Ads spending each month? It’s true, all thanks to a program called Google Ad Grants.

With Google Ad Grants, organizations just like yours get a monthly grant of $10,000 to spend on Google ads. When used effectively, this funding can go a long way to boost traffic to your nonprofit website and even increase donations.

If your nonprofit is looking to get started with Google Grants, the first step is to apply. In this post, we’ll walk you through 6 questions you need to ask during the application process to ensure your nonprofit obtains (and maintains!) your Google Grant:

  1. What are Google Ad Grants?
  2. Are all nonprofits eligible for Google Ad Grants?
  3. What can my nonprofit do to become eligible for Google Ad Grants?
  4. How does my nonprofit apply for a Google Ad Grant?
  5. Can my nonprofit lose its Google Ad Grant eligibility?
  6. How do I get started with Google Grants?

Applying for a Google Ad Grant doesn’t have to be complicated. Just follow our guide and you’ll be on your way to your new Google Ads account in no time!


1. What are Google Ad Grants?

Before you start the enrollment process, you need to be clear on what exactly you’re applying for.

Put simply, Google Grants (also known as Ad Grants or Google Ad Grants) is a program where Google provides eligible nonprofits with an in-kind donation of $10,000 in monthly ads funding.

But let’s back up even further—what exactly are Google Ads in the first place?

Google Ads are the paid search results that appear at the top of your search results screen based on the keywords included in your query. Here’s an example of what that might look like:

A Google Ad Grant allows nonprofits to place links labeled "Ad" at the top of search results - for free!

In order to see your ads appear here, your nonprofit must bid on relevant search keywords using your Google Grant money. 

There are certain parameters for Google Grant recipients, including a $2 cap on your maximum bidding amount and a requirement that all keywords must be relevant to your cause. These restrictions mean that you won’t be able to spend your money on exceptionally high-traffic terms (think: “animal rights organization” or “wildlife sanctuary”) or terms that are too general (think: “free eBook” or “donate to nonprofits”), but it also means that you’re likely to see greater results from the ads you do run.

Google Grants come with a host of benefits for organizations who know how to maximize their funding, including:

  • Greater visibility and reach for your nonprofit.
  • Increased traffic to key landing pages on your site (such as your donation form or volunteer information page).
  • Free promotion for your online content, including your blog or educational resources.
  • Potential for online donations, volunteer sign-ups, event registrations, and email list subscriptions!

Depending on how you plan your Ads strategy, you can use your ads to complete nearly any goal you have in mind. The options are endless!

The bottom line: Google Ad Grants is a highly profitable marketing tool that almost all nonprofits can take advantage of with very low risk. Through this program, you can put your name in front of thousands (if not millions) of new eyes every day—why wouldn’t you take advantage of that?

2. Are all nonprofits eligible for Google Ad Grants?

Google Ad Grants can be an exceptional resource for many nonprofits, but it’s important to know that not all organizations can take advantage of this program.

Specifically, the following types of nonprofits are ineligible for Google Grants:

  • Schools or educational institutions.
  • Government organizations.
  • Hospitals or healthcare organizations.

Google does have similar philanthropic resources for educational institutions, or you could check out our list of school fundraising ideas if you’re raising money for an educational organization.

Once you’ve confirmed you are an eligible organization, you’ll still need to meet other requirements Google has in place to ensure that all nonprofits receiving Ad Grants are legitimate charitable organizations. To qualify for a grant, your organization must:

  • Hold valid charitable status in your country. In the US, you’ll need to be registered as a 501(C)(3) organization.
  • Be registered with Google for Nonprofits and TechSoup. (Not registered? We’ll walk you through how to get started in the next section.)
  • Have a functional website as recognized by Google.
  • Adhere to program policies for using your Google Grant funding. For example, you can’t use your Ads money to promote anything outside the scope of your nonprofit’s mission, and you can’t use the money to sell products that don’t contribute to your organization’s charitable efforts.

Google puts these standards in place to make sure its grants are being given to valid, upstanding nonprofits who can actually benefit from the ads. Take some time to review their requirements as a team (or with your Google Grant management consultant) and make sure you’re up to code. If not, you can always look into alternate fundraising strategies!

The bottom line: Google Ad Grants are not given to all types of nonprofits. Your nonprofit must abide by certain criteria in order to receive Ads funding, so make sure you understand the eligibility requirements before attempting to enroll.

3. What can my nonprofit do to become eligible for Google Ad Grants?

If your nonprofit meets the baseline requirements for receiving a Google Ad Grant but isn’t quite ready to enroll, there are a few measures you can take to get your application approved on the first try.

If you’d like to apply for a Google Ad Grant, there are several approaches your organization could take: you could DIY it, you could hire someone onto your team to manage it, or you could work with a Google Grant management consultant who can walk you through the application process from start to finish.

Completing your Google Grant application yourself will be the least expensive option; however, it will require the biggest investment of your time. 

Google Ad Grant consultants (who often offer other digital marketing or fundraising strategy services) have experience identifying issues that might keep you from receiving a grant and can make sure you don’t get denied on a technicality or mistake.

Once you’ve been approved for your grant, the consultant can help you put together a strategy for maintaining eligibility and using your full $10,000 as effectively as possible!

Your team can take the following steps to get your organization ready for your Google Ads application:

  • Register with TechSoup. If you haven’t already, make sure your nonprofit is validated with TechSoup.org. You may need to set up a new registration or claim an existing nonprofit account. Either way, this step is vital to Google for Nonprofits (and therefore, Google Grants) eligibility. It may take a few days to receive your validation, so make sure you add some wiggle room to your timeline.
  • Make sure your mission is clear. Both on your website and your grant application, your nonprofit’s mission should be front and center. Make sure Google can quickly understand what programs or efforts you’ll be using Google Ads to promote. Note: it helps to have a concise mission statement on the front page of your site!
  • Update your nonprofit website. You’ll need to tie your Google ads to your website, so make sure it’s in good shape before launching your account. Your website should be optimized for both search and user experience, with relevant content that’s readable by Google. (Hint: follow our best practices and your site will be ready in no time.)

From there, you should be on your way to securing your Ads account and funding.

Keep in mind that these requirements may change according to Google’s current standards. To limit confusion and frustration, we recommend working with a consultant who can streamline the process. After all, it’s their full-time job to understand Google Grants, not yours!

The bottom line: There are steps nonprofits can take to increase their chances of receiving a Google Grant, such as optimizing their websites and double-checking their charitable status. For best results, it’s wise to work with an expert Google Grant consultant who can get your application approved on the first try.

4. How does my nonprofit apply for a Google Grant?

Once you’re confident in your eligibility, it’s time to start the application process!

Luckily, when it comes to managing your Google Grant account, the application is the easy part. As long as you’ve got your eligibility in order, just follow these guidelines to get your enrollment started:

  1. Sign up for Google for Nonprofits. Along with Google Grants, Google also offers other benefits to nonprofits as part of their Google for Nonprofits program. Once you’re a registered “Google Nonprofit,” you can also access the YouTube Nonprofit Program, Google Workspace, and more. This application is fairly straightforward, so expect questions about your tax ID, non-discrimination policies, and general contact and organization information.
  2. Register for Google Grants. After your application for Google for Nonprofits has been processed and approved (which could take several months!), you can access Google Grants from your Google account. You’ll need to log into your account, navigate to the “Products” menu, then select “Get Started” under Google Ad Grants. You’ll fill out the eligibility form and click the checkbox on the homepage to verify you completed the form. Hit “Activate” and you’re done!
  3. Accept the invitation from Google. After a few business days, you should receive an invitation via email from the Google Ad Grants team and set up your billing information. Now you’re ready to set up your Ads account!

Getting the application completed is the easy part; the real work begins when you set up your first campaign. As we’ll discuss below, there are a number of standards you have to maintain to keep your Google Grant funding. Keeping up with these is no small task. 

Your organization’s options are:

  • Use your existing staff to maintain your Ads campaigns, which may not be a great choice for smaller organizations already strapped for staff time. 
  • Bring someone on full-time to manage the Ads presence (this is the most expensive option).
  • Hire a consultant with experience in Google Grant management. 

For many organizations, hiring an external consultant will be the best choice. A Google Ad Grants consultant is generally less expensive than a full-time employee and has the benefit of working with lots of different organizations with all manner of goals. Chances are, they’ve seen an organization like yours, and know what strategies work and which ones to avoid. 

To learn more about how to vet your consulting firm, check out Getting Attention’s guide on hiring a Google Grants Agency to help with your grant management. 

Once you’ve decided what strategy for managing your Ads campaign is right for your organization, you’ll have to take the following steps to start your first campaign:

  1. Create your Ads account. Follow Google’s steps for account creation. You’ll need to enter some basic information first before you can get started creating your first ad campaigns, ad groups, and keywords. 
  2. Set up your campaigns. Remember there are a few key requirements Google mandates for its grantees: you need at least two ad groups per campaign, and at least two active ads per group. Be sure to choose your keywords carefully – they need to be high-quality and get a decent number of clicks.
  3. Have your account reviewed by Google. After you’ve finalized setup, you’ll need to submit your account for Google’s review using your account ID number (which you can find by clicking the person icon in the top-right corner of your account). Google will review your account to ensure it’s in line with its Ads policies, and you’ll be notified of your approval (or any errors that need to be addressed) via email.

That’s it! Your nonprofit should now have everything you need to get started managing your account and seeing the results of your new ads.

The bottom line: To set up your Google Grant, sign up for Google for Nonprofits first. Then, you’ll be ready to work through the Ads registration and approval process following Google’s guidelines (and with the help of your Google Grant management consultant).

5. Can my nonprofit lose its Google Grants eligibility?

Getting set up, managing your account, and maintaining your grant eligibility is an ongoing process. If you aren’t maintaining your Ads account to Google’s standards, your grant funding may be suspended temporarily or indefinitely. 

To keep your account in good standing, pay attention to a few key requirements for your Google Grant:

  • Account activity. Google doesn’t give money to organizations that aren’t using it! Show Google that you’re taking account maintenance seriously by logging in at least once a month and updating your account every 90 days.
  • Ad relevance and geotargeting. In addition to having ads that accurately reflect your nonprofit’s cause, Google also requires that all ads are targeted to a specific geographic location. That way, users only see advertising that’s relevant to them.
  • Monthly keyword evaluation. To keep your ads profitable, Google asks that you conduct their Keyword Performance Report once a month. This report can show you where your chosen keywords fall on Googe’s Quality Scale and help you optimize your keyword list for best results.
  • A minimum 5% click-through rate. To improve ad relevance and user experience, Google requires that all nonprofit accounts maintain a 5% click-through rate (CTR) after their first 90 days as a grant recipient. Accounts that don’t meet this requirement will be notified within their accounts, and the account will be suspended if this goal isn’t met for 2 consecutive months.

Though these are some of the most important eligibility and management requirements, they aren’t the only ones. It’s important that your team stays active in your campaigns and is consistently optimizing your Ads strategy in order to maintain your account. You’ll want to do this regularly to make sure you’re getting the most value from your Google Grant!

If these standards seem like a lot to keep track of, remember that you can always seek outside help from a consultant. They can manage your account for you, freeing up your time for other important tasks at your nonprofit.

The bottom line: Google requires that accounts meet certain requirements in order to remain active. By paying attention to these goals, you can make sure your account stays in good standing and is successful.

6. How do I get started with Google Grants?

Now that you know more about Google Grants eligibility requirements and the application process, you’re ready to get started! 

Improve your chances of getting approved on the first round, maintaining your grant, and seeing great results from your Ad campaign by working with a Google Grant consultant. Getting Attention offers free consultations to assess your nonprofit’s needs.

Once you’ve assembled your team and are ready to begin your application, head to Google’s Get Started page and click “apply” and you’re on your way!

The bottom line: Once you’re ready to start, get in touch with a consultant, or dive right in directly with Google!

Google Grants are one of the most valuable marketing tools your nonprofit can access. Now that you know how to apply for these grants, you’re halfway to Google Ads success!

Check out these resources for more insight into online marketing and fundraising:

  • Our Favorite Nonprofit Software. Finding the right technology can make a big difference in your nonprofit fundraising strategy. See our top choices for nonprofit software to find tools to complement your Google Ads strategy.
  • Getting Attention’s Nonprofit Marketing Plan. Need some help figuring out how to spread awareness of your nonprofit? Check out Getting Attention’s guide to creating a nonprofit marketing plan (and free templates!) to start.
  • NPOInfo’s Nonprofit Data Hygiene. A great Google Ads strategy starts with a strong data foundation. NPOInfo’s guide to data hygiene for nonprofits will help you ensure your fundraising data is working for you.