Did you know Google awards nonprofits with $10,000 in free AdWords spending each month? It’s true, all thanks to a program called Google Ad Grants.
With Google 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 5 questions you need to ask during the application process to ensure your nonprofit obtains (and maintains!) your Google Grant:
- What is Google Grants?
- Are all nonprofits eligible for Google Grants?
- What can my nonprofit do to become eligible for Google Grants?
- How does my nonprofit apply for a Google Grant?
- Can my nonprofit lose its Google Grants eligibility?
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 AdWords account in no time!
Bonus! Already have your AdWords account set up? Learn how to manage your Google Grant and see better results by reading this essential Google Grants management guide from the consultants at Getting Attention.
1. What is Google Grants?
Before you can 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 AdWords Grants) is a program wherein Google provides eligible nonprofits with an in-kind donation of $10,000 in monthly AdWords funding.
But let’s back up even further—what exactly is Google AdWords in the first place?
Google AdWords 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:
In order to see your ads appear here, your nonprofit can bid on relevant keywords using your Google Grant money.
Of course, 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 entirely 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 out your AdWords strategy, you can use your ads to complete nearly any goal you have in mind. The options are endless!
The bottom line: Google 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 Grants?
Google 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.
If you’ve made it past this first barrier to entry, you’ll also need to consider 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 AdWords money to promote anything outside the scope of your nonprofit’s true cause, 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 that 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 where it counts. 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 AdWords funding, so make sure you understand their eligibility requirements before attempting to enroll.
3. What can my nonprofit do to become eligible for Google Grants?
If your nonprofit meets the baseline requirements for receiving a Google 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.
The best strategy? Work with a Google Grant management consultant who can walk you through the application process from start to finish.
These consultants (who often offer other digital marketing or fundraising strategy services) have experience identifying any issues that might keep you from receiving a grant and can help make sure you don’t get denied on a technicality or mistake.
Plus, 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!
With your consultant’s guidance, your team can take the following steps to get your organization ready for your Google AdWords 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 AdWords 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 as optimized for both search and user experience as possible, 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 shouldn’t have much stopping you from securing your AdWords account and funding.
However, keep in mind that these requirements may change according to Google’s current standards. To limit any confusion or 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!
Bonus! Want to learn about the nonprofit consulting process before you find your own Google AdWords consultant? Learn what to look for in a web consultant by reading this post from DNL OmniMedia.
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 always wise to work with an expert Google Grant consultant who can get your application approved instantly.
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:
- 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 One Today, and more. This application is fairly straightforward, so expect questions about your tax ID, non-discrimination policies, and general contact and organization information.
- 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 simply need to choose whether you’d like to register for Google AdWords or AdWords Express, a lightweight version of AdWords that requires less hands-on management. For optimum results, we suggest choosing AdWords.
- Create your AdWords 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. (Note: while you can set up your campaigns and ads yourself, a nonprofit consultant can provide greater insight into which keywords and campaign strategies can deliver the best results.)
- 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 AdWords policies, and you’ll be notified of your approval (or any errors that need to be addressed) via email.
That’s it! In just 4 simple steps, your nonprofit should 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 AdWords 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?
After setting up your account, managing your account and maintaining your grant eligibility is an ongoing process. If you aren’t maintaining your AdWords 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 out money to organizations who 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. In order 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 AdWords strategy in order to maintain your account.
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.
Google Grants can be one of the most valuable marketing tools your nonprofit has access to. Now that you know how to apply for these grants, you’re halfway to Google AdWords 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 AdWords strategy.
- DNL OmniMedia’s Top Nonprofit Websites. No matter how successful your ads are, you won’t see any boost to your online engagement if your website isn’t ready for visitors. Get inspired by checking out DNL OmniMedia’s favorite nonprofit websites.
- DonorSearch’s Top Fundraising Consulting Firms. Ready to bring on the help you need for a stellar Google Grant strategy? Find a firm that can fit your needs by taking a look at the best fundraising consultants according to DonorSearch.