Learn how to determine your Google Grants eligibility and get started with the program.

Google Ad Grants Eligibility: A Guide to Getting Started

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 questions you need to ask during the application process to ensure your nonprofit obtains (and maintains!) your Google Ad Grant:

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 Ad Grants account in no time! Stick around until the end, and you’ll also receive some targeted tips for making the most of your account.

Bonus! Already have your Google Ads account set up? Learn how to manage your Google Grant and see better results by reading this essential Google Ad Grant management guide from the Google-certified consultants at Getting Attention.

Get a free consultation with Getting Attention to determine your Google Grant eligibility.

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.

How do search ads differ from organic results?

Nexus Marketing’s guide to SEO for nonprofits explains that when users search keywords or phrases, Google delivers content based on what it assumes the user is attempting to accomplish. Below ads, Google provides organic results, which are pages that have demonstrated their authority and expertise to Google.

Paid and organic methods can both enhance your online presence, and each has its own benefits and challenges. Here are the key differences between Google Ads and organic search results:

A chart comparing the differences between Google Ads and organic results

  • Placement: Ads appear at the top and bottom of the search results page and are marked with a “Sponsored” label. Organic listings appear below the ads and are based on relevance to the search query.
  • Cost: You pay for each ad click, and costs vary based on keyword competitiveness. There’s no direct cost associated with SEO outside of choosing to hire a marketing agency. Rather, you invest time into SEO strategies and content creation.
  • Time to Rank: Ads start appearing on Google search results pages almost immediately. With SEO, results depend on search engine algorithms and ongoing efforts like backlink building, meaning content can rank highly early on or take some time.
  • Control: You have more control over which keywords your ads are shown for and who your ads are shown to. You have less direct control over organic rankings since they depend on the search engine’s algorithms and your content’s quality.
  • Duration: Ads run as long as your budget allows; Google will stop displaying your ads once your budget is depleted. Meanwhile, organic visibility can be sustained long-term with continuous SEO efforts, providing lasting value.

These strategies can complement each other with Google Ads providing immediate traffic and organic SEO building sustainable visibility. For the best results, leverage both methods to maximize your reach through search engine results.

2. Why apply for the Google Ad Grant?

Beyond adding extra funding to your marketing budget, Google Grants come with many benefits for organizations who know how to maximize their funding. Especially when you put time into effective Google Ad Grants management, you might experience:

  • 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).
  • Greater awareness for corporate giving opportunities.
  • 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 your exact Google Ad Grants management strategy, you can use your ads to achieve nearly any goal you have in mind. With a bit of creativity and a ton of research, 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?

3. 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 automatically ineligible for Google Grants:

For organizations in the education sector, Google has similar philanthropic resources for educational institutions, known as Google for Education. You could always check out our list of school fundraising ideas if you’re raising money for an educational organization.

Once you’ve confirmed your organization isn’t automatically ineligible, you’ll still need to meet other requirements Google has in place to ensure that all nonprofits receiving the grant are legitimate charitable organizations. Getting Attention’s guide to Google Grants eligibility breaks the requirements down into a few key pieces. To qualify for a grant, your organization must:

  • Hold valid charitable status in your country. In the U.S., you’ll need to be registered as a 501(C)(3) organization.
  • Be registered with Google for Nonprofits and Percent. (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 the program policies for using your Google Grant funding. For example, you can’t use your Google Ad Grant funds 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 it’s only funding valid, upstanding nonprofits who can actually benefit from the ads. Take some time to review their Google Ad Grant 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 funding, so make sure you understand the Google Grant eligibility requirements before attempting to enroll.

Should my nonprofit use the Google Ad Grant?

Even if you are eligible for the Google Ad Grant, whether or not you should apply and use the grant depends on your organization’s goals. While the grant can provide significant benefits, some objectives may be better suited to other marketing strategies.

Here are a few goals that benefit more from other strategies than the Google Ad Grant:

  • Selling Products and Services: If your nonprofit sells products or services such as curriculum, training, or camp registrations, leverage targeted email marketing, social media advertising, and SEO to directly reach potential customers. These channels drive long-term, organic traffic that’s more sustainable than short-term results from Google Ads
  • Boosting Long-Term Traffic: If your goal is to ensure steady traffic growth, SEO provides a more reliable approach in comparison to short-term ad campaigns. While paid ads require continuous funding, SEO efforts can yield ongoing benefits long after the initial work is done.
  • Becoming A Thought Leader: Building authority in your field is often achieved through high-quality content and backlinks. If your nonprofit produces detailed reports or educational resources, focusing on strategies like SEO can help these assets reach a broader audience.
  • Promoting Events: Promote events like charity runs or educational workshops using SEO, social media marketing, and influencer partnerships. These strategies help you reach a wider audience, generate buzz through engaging content and endorsements, and ensure your event is easily discoverable in search engine results.

The Google Ad Grant offers tremendous opportunities for many nonprofits, but you should determine whether it’s the best approach based on your organization’s goals.

4. 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 Ad 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 Ad Grants application:

  • Understand and prepare for the verification process. Historically, Google has worked with TechSoup to verify nonprofits’ legitimacy. Now, they list Percent as their preferred validation partner. Either way, getting validated is vital to Google for Nonprofits (and therefore, Google Ad 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 nonprofit’s 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 and your EIN in the footer 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 web design best practices, and your site will be ready in no time.)

From there, you should be on your way to securing your Google Ad Grants 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 Ad Grants management, not yours!

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

5. 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 Ad 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 other useful tools. This application is fairly straightforward, so expect questions about your tax ID, non-discrimination policies, and general contact and organization information.
  2. Wait for Verification. As we mentioned, Google works with Percent to verify nonprofits’ legitimacy. The organization typically reviews requests within 2-14 business days, but keep an eye on your email if they contact you for more information or documentation.
  3. Register for Google Ad Grants. After your application for Google for Nonprofits has been approved (which could take several weeks!) and Percent has verified your nonprofit, you can access the Google Ad Grants application 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!
  4. Accept the invitation from Google. After a few business days, you should receive an email invitation from the Google Ad Grants team to join the program and set up your billing information. Now you’re ready to set up your account!

This is the typical timeline for confirming your Google Grants eligibility and apply for the program.

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 Ad Grants funding. Keeping up with the compliance requirements is no small task.

Your organization’s options are:

  • Use your existing staff to maintain your ad 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 Ad Grant management.

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

We recommend Getting Attention. They’re a certified Google partner, so you’ll know you’re receiving expert help and insights into how to leverage your grant fully. 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.

Read this guide to learn how to apply for the Google Grant after determining your eligibility.

Creating Your First Campaign

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 one responsive search ad (RSA). 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 start managing your account and seeing the results of your new ads.

The bottom line: To apply for the Google Ad 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 Ad Grant manager).

6. 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 Google’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 nonprofit advertising 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.

We recommend working with a certified Google Ad Grant partner. That way, you’ll have a direct link to the Google Ad Grants team and can get your account working again if you fall out of compliance.

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.

7. 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 campaigns by working with a Google Grant consultant. Getting Attention offers free consultations to assess your nonprofit’s needs. Plus, they’re certified by Google, so you know you’ll receive Ad Grants account support from trusted professionals.

Their experts will handle every step of the process for you, even beyond the initial application. Here are their core services:

  • Google Grant eligibility check and application
  • Campaign creation, including keyword research
  • Ongoing account management to comply with the Google Grant rules
  • Campaign reporting
  • Account reactivation for lapsed and deactivated accounts

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!

Sign up for Getting Attention's newsletter to learn more about Google Ad Grants.


8. How can I make the most of Google Ad Grants?

Acquiring the Google Ad Grant is one thing, but making the most of your funding is another challenge entirely. Properly managing your account is a learning process that involves closely monitoring your campaigns and making adjustments based on what’s working.

From optimizing your website’s content to crafting compelling ad copy, there’s a lot you can do to generate more value from the grant. Here are some of our favorite Google Ad Grant management tips.

Make the most of your eligibility by practicing these Google Ad Grants management tips.

1. Optimize your landing pages.

Your landing pages are the web pages you’ll promote via Google Ads. When readers click on your ad, they’ll be directed to whichever page you choose on your site. It’s up to you to pick the ones that are most relevant to their needs.

For example, someone who searches “animal shelter volunteering” is clearly looking to volunteer, in which case,  you’d direct them to a volunteer signup page. Someone searching “donate to refugees” is looking to give, which means you’ll want to direct them to a donation form.

Beyond choosing the right landing pages, you’ll need to design your pages in a way that drives users to take action. To optimize each landing page, you’ll want to:

  • Include your ad’s keywords in the copy and headings of your page.
  • Feature a strong call to action (CTA).
  • Establish your brand identity by featuring your official colors and logo.
  • Include compelling imagery.
  • Have testimonials or other social proof that speaks to your legitimacy.

Your landing pages are what will be what seal the deal for your Google Ads. Make sure each one prioritizes the user experience and makes it incredibly clear that supporting your nonprofit is the right choice for each visitor.

2. Track meaningful conversions.

The primary purpose of the Google Ad Grant is to spread awareness of worthy causes and generate value for participating nonprofits. That’s done by achieving meaningful conversions.

A “meaningful conversion” is simply any action someone can take that your nonprofit finds valuable to achieving your mission. For example, Google breaks conversions down into a few primary categories:

  • Purchase or Sale: Donations, purchases, membership sales, ticket sales, and so on
  • Sign Up: Volunteer sign-up, email sign-up, new membership form completion, event sign-up, and so on
  • Lead Generation: Information downloads, clicks to call, clicks to social accounts, and so on
  • View of a Key Page: Time on site, pages per session, watching videos, and so on

Really, you can work toward any conversion goal so long as it supports your work. Think carefully about what types of actions are actually meaningful to your nonprofit, especially considering that the Google Ad Grants team will require you to report at least 1 conversion per month.

3. Carefully choose keywords to display your ads to the right audience.

Your keywords are an essential part of your Google Ads. Think about the terms your prospects are likely searching online to kickstart your brainstorming session.

You can use the negative keyword feature to refine your ads further. NXUnite’s guide to Google Ad Grants explains that “negative keywords are used to prevent your content from showing up in searches that contain certain words.” Adding negative keywords allows you to eliminate searches from people who aren’t looking for content related to your services.

For example, let’s say you’re running ads that target keywords related to saving endangered bears. In this case, you might notice that your ads show up for search queries like “Chicago bears,” “teddy bears,” and “the Berenstain Bears.” To prevent this, use negative keywords that eliminate irrelevant search queries, such as:

  • -chicago
  • -teddy
  • -berenstain

In turn, you’ll ensure your ads only show to qualified prospects, thus reducing wasted ad spend.

4. Keep SEO in mind.

To maximize your presence within search results and encourage engagement with your cause, integrate your SEO and Google Ad strategies. The right combination of outbound and inbound strategies can help you reach and convert more visitors into supporters. Here’s how to make these strategies work together:

  • Align keyword research. Conduct comprehensive keyword research to identify your highest-return keywords for both paid and organic strategies. When you actively target these keywords with both SEO and paid ads, you’ll maximize ownership over these terms.
  • Ensure consistent messaging. Consistency across your ad copy and website reinforces your nonprofit’s brand and provides a seamless experience for users transitioning from paid ads to your website.
  • Optimize your landing pages. High-quality, keyword-rich content improves your organic search rankings and provides a better user experience for visitors who click on your ads, potentially increasing conversion rates.
  • Create valuable content. Create valuable, keyword-optimized content that aligns with the themes of your Google Ad campaigns. This approach not only boosts your organic rankings but also provides users who click on your ads with relevant and informative content.
  • Enhance your site’s user experience (UX). A well-structured, easy-to-navigate, and mobile-optimized site with fast loading times positively impacts your organic rankings, keeps visitors engaged, and reduces bounce rates from paid ads.

By aligning your SEO and Google Ad Grant strategies, you can create a cohesive and powerful digital marketing approach that maximizes your nonprofit’s online presence and drives both immediate and long-term results.

The bottom line: Meeting the Google Grant eligibility requirements is only step one. You’ll need to take steps like optimizing your landing pages and picking the right keywords to make the most of your funding.

Additional Resources

Google Ad 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!

Remember, working with a professional can simplify your Google Ad Grant management and help you skip the learning curve that comes with the program. We suggest the certified professionals at Getting Attention for their attention to detail and dedication to helping nonprofits make the most of their $10,000 each month.

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

Get a free consultation with Getting Attention to determine your Google Ad Grant eligibility.